On asking questions

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone starts a question with, “Don’t you think…”

To me, that is almost always a lazy ass, passive aggressive way of throwing one of your preconceived notions in my face. You veil it as a question to me because you are not yet prepared to defend your position and/or you are simply trying to make yourself look smart.

Know that any question to me that begins with “don’t you think” is going to get a response from me that is “I don’t know, what do you think?”

When you’ve answered I am going to walk away. You will have said the same thing twice and I don’t like redundancy.

If you genuinely want my opinion on something or are seeking to understand me then by all means ask away. Just don’t start with “don’t you think” implying 1) you know what I think or 2) that what comes after “don’t you think” is what my answer should be according to you.

Don’t you think that was an excellent blog post?

To speak or not to speak?

When you’re in an open space with a group of strangers, a party for instance, and there is a pause in the conversation it is referred to as an “awkward silence.” When you get on an elevator everyone is quiet and usually staring down at the floor (or their phone). Any sound on an elevator is awkward and typically uncomfortable for most people. This dichotomy has always puzzled me. Why is silence preferred in one awkward situation and frowned upon in another?

I am introverted by nature and not usually the boisterous one who will jump into small talk with any old stranger. However, for some reason I find it extremely entertaining to be the one who causes awkward stress on elevators. It’s as if my alter ego knows the pain of speaking out will last only a few minutes – the length of time until everyone on the elevator exits and parts to go their separate ways.

So how does this manifest itself? Most of the time my attempts to discomfort people are humorous in nature. A few examples:

Scene 1
Stranger: “I see you on the elevator almost every day. What do you do for a living?”
Me: “I am a professional clown fighter. I know 43 ways to kill a clown.”

Scene 2
Goofy woman in all yellow dress enters elevator. She “accidentally” hits 4 floors of buttons between us and the lobby.
Goofy Woman: “Oh! I’m so sorry. Please don’t kill me.”
Me: “I only kill people I am going to eat, and I don’t like bananas.”

Scene 3
Woman enters elevator wearing Michigan State T-Shirt. She turns around and the back reads “Today is game day at Michigan State”
Me: “Who are they playing?”
Her: “What?”
Me: “No, who?”
Her: “What?”
Me: “Second Base”

Other times I intentionally try to creep people out by appearing serious.

Scene 4
In a very crowded, full elevator…
Me: “I bet you’re all wondering why I’ve gathered you here today?”

Scene 5
Ever notice how no one wants to make eye contact on the elevator?
When I am the last to get on an elevator and it is packed I like to stand with my back to the doors and look at everyone…and see how many I can make eye contact with. Sometimes, if ones looks up and sees me, I will put my finger to my mouth in the common “shhhhh” motion.

Scene 6
Once again, crowded elevator, everyone looking at ground or staring at phone.
I pickup my phone and act like I am speaking to someone.
Me: “No! The doctor says it’s not contagious unless you are within a couple of feet of me.”

And that, my friends is how an introvert entertains himself. Truth be told, many times we all end up laughing and acknowledging the awkwardness of it all. There are, however, a few folks who will avoid getting on the elevator with me at the office.

If you’re curious and want to hear about more of these always unplanned incidents I share them on my weekly newsletter – under the heading “Jeff’s Fun on Elevators“.


Why are there No Fat Zombies?


My friend Jeff Glover, Zombie extra on The Walking Dead

When I watch a TV show or movie I have a tendency to analyze all of the scientific aspects of the show for plausibility and validity. I can certainly suspend my disbelief when warranted. After all, science fiction would not be science fiction if everything adhered to the current laws of nature as we know them. There are, however, subtler aspects of many shows that intrigue me and cause me to put my pinky to my lip and go “hmmmmmmmmmmmm” Dr. Evil style.


One of those particular moments came to me while watching The Walking Dead. I’ll first start by saying I am NOT engaged in the Zombie sub-culture as much as a lot of people. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about zombie myths and legends or comic books. I became fascinated with The Walking Dead because it is filmed here in Atlanta. In fact, the CDC shown in the show is the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, a venue within sight of my office window. One day during filming they had the road closed off and it was full of tanks, military equipment, and lots of freakishly gray looking people. I was hooked.

As I began watching the show I noticed something rather peculiar. The more I focused on it, the more it began to bother me. There were NO FAT ZOMBIES. I began to go over the possible storytelling reasons for this in my head. I did a little online search to see if there was something I was missing about zombies that meant none of them were fat. For the life of me I could not find a plausible explanation.

My thought process went something like this:

  • In the show, when people are bitten they become zombies. The transformation time varies from person to person. It can be quick or it can take hours.
  • I realize that zombies wandering around all day, losing limbs, and mindlessly meandering would probably lose lots of weight if they started fat but…
  • With the shear number of zombies on the show, one would think that there would be at least a few recently zombified fat folks who were in the precursor stages to losing all that weight, i.e….
  • There should be some fat zombies.

There was one guy they dragged out of a well that was a bit portly but that could have been because he was waterlogged or something. No matter, the question remains. Why are there no fat zombies?

Robert Kirkman, Executive Producer of the show, had this to say in a letter column:

There are tons of fat zombies in the comic… less so in the show, as, frankly, it’s hard to ADD to big people to make them look like zombies. Keep in mind, to make those walkers look real, you have to build stuff, on top of real people… you start adding to people my size, and well… we start to look a bit too padded, if that makes sense.

So there you have it. I spent countless hours obsessing over a stupid nuance of a TV show only to find out that the reason had nothing to do with the story or the sci-fi world and everything to do with saving makeup money. Fat people require too much makeup. And my contemplative nature sends me down another rabbit hole.