Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Just Tell Me Why!

Another little observation for, admittedly, temporary filler -- if I do pick up a regular writing schedule (or end up perishing in a ditch): Why do some people, when asked questions, tend to give extremely broad answers that are virtually meaningless without any explanation, and then neglect to give the explanation?

I can only think to make it clear through example. One time as a very young child I walked into a gas station shop and asked the cashier for some scratch-off lottery tickets. My mother let me scratch them on a regular basis, so I was totally unaware of any age laws or anything. When the cashier said "I can't do that" I was absolutely baffled and totally believed there were no such rules against my request. When I asked for an explanation, she just smiled and chuckled. After repeating my request she would, again, say "I can't do that" and smile plus chuckle when asked for an explanation. (Eventually she relented, which, if she ever hoped to persuade me I was acting against the law, only served to solidify my belief that what I was doing was perfectly legal.)

Regardless of my age at the time, it confuses me as to why she didn't even bother to attempt to give an explanation as to why she wasn't allowed to fulfill my request. By offering a floating statement, "I can't do that," all she appeared was random and arbitrary, which she was being just by those words. Geez, even a kid that young back then would know there is such a thing as laws, so why she didn't cite them is beyond me.

Though, I ask this question because I've seen this mentality more than once. When I went to a Cracker Barrel restaurant once I asked for a medium-rare steak, and the waiter said he couldn't fulfill the request because, well, he didn't say. He just said he couldn't, which was extra confusing since I was able to get such at visits before and after this waiter, so I suppose he was informed of work rules other weren't, otherwise there's other factors. I think he denied such a request because perhaps the restaurant is paranoid by food safety and the legal risks, and so mandates that meats be cooked to medium at least, anything lesser too risky. Now that's going overboard I think, but why couldn't the waiter say this to me? Again the floating and arbitrary statement.

At my last job at a pizzeria I recall being instructed to offer such statements when I asked why the restaurant would be unable to fulfill a particular request. By gosh, why no reasons? Is it not clear that offering statements in this way is just going to cause confusion and beg for follow-up questions.

To be clear, though, I don't think these are examples of dictatorial mentalities. That is, people who give statements and then *don't want* them to be challenged or questioned, and want you to accept them idly; just simply don't give reasons. For what reason, I'd like to know.

So to all of them I ask: Why?

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