Tricky Questions

You’ll see them on busy street corners, in areas of high pedestrian activity, malls, parks, thoroughfares and so on. Must I keep giving examples?

They wear bright coloured t-shirts. Green, purple, yellow. Nothing is too much!

They are fresh faced and full of enthusiasm. They have clip-boards and a shame deficit.

Up until a year ago they would say to me “excuse me sir, would you be interested in saving the [some animal/place/way of life I don’t care about]?” A closed question.

“No thanks” is the correct answer.

Then one day this changed. “Hi there sir, how are you doing today, off to work?”

“No thanks” is still the correct answer. It feels odd, but don’t let them fuck with your brain. You’re not saying “no thanks” to what they just said. You’re saying “no thanks” to the next thing they will say if you enlighten them as to the quality of your day. They have their second question locked and loaded; they know it, you know it, so there is nothing wrong with answering it. And for the love of baby Jesus don’t slow down.

I actually had one of these rodents say to me “but I didn’t ask you that.” Indignantly! Like, they promised him in interrupting-people’s-personal-thoughts school that if he asked an open-ended question he would get the person to stop walking and engage him in conversation.

Today I was waiting to cross at the lights (green = go, that’s how I remember) and the normal human next to me produced a clipboard, a smile and an air of superciliousness.

Bam, just like that, they could be anywhere. She asked me “what was your favourite sport as a child?”.

That is not a lie. I paused; I was flummoxed.

After a moment, I put my hand on her shoulder. Squeezed it ever-so-gently…


Her pupils looked like the black pool ball getting closer to the pool table hole from the perspective of the pool table hole.

I breathed out heavily. I’d just eaten a banana and figured the smell would make it just that much more uncomfortable. She breathed in and furrowed her brow. She turned slowly and looked at my hand caressing her shoulder. She looked at the other one, it was doing ‘peripheral jazz hand’.

I feel recently that I’ve lost the ability to wrap up storie