You Are Special?

Many of the questions I get at the library start like this: “Okay, I’ve got a really weird question…” or “You’ve probably never heard this before.” More often than not, it is a question that many, many people have asked at the very same desk. Of me.

Part of our incomprehensible strategic plan at work is making every single person feel special. If I told every single person “You are special,” I think I’d probably get a raise, rather than rolling eyes.

I do not tell these people “Oh, I’ve heard that a million times.” I usually react with: “Oh, I can’t wait!” Part of me does perk up every time I think I’m about to get something unusual.

Doesn’t happen as often as people think.

I have been wondering why so many people insist on stating that they have an unusual question, or why they think the question is unusual. Honestly, it can be something like “Can you help me find the 1-800 number for the Citibank corporate offices?” or “I’m trying to find the bus that will get me down to South Jordan.”

Maybe it has something to do with the need to feel special. Unique. Maybe it is reassuring to suggest that we are capable of asking questions that nobody else asks. That thoughts occur to us that do not happen in other people’s minds.

I don’t know about that. I do know that I enjoy being surprised and wish it happened more often.


2 thoughts on “You Are Special?

  1. Well, if I’m ever in the neighborhood, I will have to stop by. I’ve got some doozies.

    I have actually delighted some librarians with my off-the-wall requests. And their delight seemed genuine; I don’t think they were merely playacting in hopes of getting a raise.

    I don’t know if people actually think their questions are weird or unique or special, or this is just a colloquial tool to make them seem submissive or apologetic or abundantly polite. I hate when people constantly apologize too. Like when they apologize in advance for how stupid their question is going to be. I guess that is kind of the opposite of what you are saying; rather than overselling what is coming next, they undersell. Both annoying. I don’t know why people don’t just say “excuse me, could you tell me where the IRS forms are?”

    I do think everyone wants to feel special. I know I do. I want to feel smart too, and like I am asking questions no one has ever thought of asking. The longer I am alive, the more I realize how rarely that is going to be the case. But I keep trying.

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