Friday, May 25, 2007

Save the Planet...Don't Ask!

The other night, I stopped at a Coldstone Creamery to buy an ice cream milkshake. While one of the employees was pouring my shake into a "love it"-sized cup, her co-worker punched my order into the cash register. To decide which button to push, she yelled over to her friend at the shake machine: "What's he having?"

Answer: "A shake."

Without lifting her eyes from the cash register, the check-out girl asked: "What size?"

At this point I cut in and said: "The size of cup she's holding in her hand."

Now, my cashier had a direct sight-line to what her co-worker was doing. She just couldn't be bothered to turn her head; instead, she asked to be spoon-fed the information.

The girls laughed, the one at the shake machine in a "What have I been telling you?" kind of way, the cashier in a "Shucks, you got me there!" way. But they both gave me a blank look as I propounded my theory: "Unnecessary questions give off greenhouse gases."

When you need to know something, and you can find out for yourself as quickly as you can ask and get an answer, then you shouldn't ask! This really explodes the theory that "the only stupid question is the one no one asked." Some questions really are a waste of time and, yes, resources! This is a tendency I have to check in myself from time to time. Because, when you think of it, asking a co-worker and getting an answer costs twice as much as spending the same period of time looking up the answer for yourself!

And when all you have to do is show an interest in the world around you (such as, turning your head slightly to see what size of shake girlfriend is making), you impress the customer as a smart, energetic, friendly person. Whereas the cashier at Target who accidentally calls you "Miss" (when you have a beard and a baritone voice), or who says "Good morning" when it's 8 p.m., impresses you as a careless jerk who is too lazy to think.

Of course, there is a corollary to the principle that stupid questions are destroying the environment, and that is: If you want to help save the planet, be "johnny on the spot" with the information your customer wants, and don't make him ask someone else.

A couple weeks ago I drove up to the curb outside one of the restaurants I named in my previous post. I wasn't sure the place was open at the time. So when a young man came out the front door (taking out the trash or some such chore), I assumed he was an employee and so I asked: "Is this place open?" He said, "I don't know. You can ask inside."

I didn't want to damage the atmosphere by repeating my question, so I refrained from asking inside. I had dinner somewhere else instead. It would have been in the interests of that young man's workplace, and the planet as a whole, if he had taken just so much responsibility as to know whether his workplace was open or not. He would also have impressed me, once again, as a go-getter who cares about what he does. Such seemingly-intelligent and fully-engaged help creates an atmosphere customers enjoy breathing...which, in turn, creates a freer flow of dollars that enable those who work there to breathe more freely too.

You see? Knowing the answers is good for the air!

No comments: