Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Rephrasing the Question

An imaginary conversation:

What time did you get up today St?

4.45 a.m. The birds were singing.

Wow you get up early. Do you always get up that early?

Often yes.

What for?

I needed the toilet.

So then you went back to bed?

Yes, of course.

So what time is the alarm clock set for?

6.00 a.m.

So you got up at six?

No. My wife did. We sleep together you know so her alarm clock is mine too.

So you went back to sleep.


So what time did you get up?


And what time did you start work?


How come you started work 45 minutes before you got up.

I read some work-related documents in bed.

What were they?

Yesterdays newspaper.

Reading the newspaper is work?

Work related.

We'll leave these two to their ongoing confusion and rewind.

What time did you get up today St?

Do you want to know what time I woke up for good, what time I got out of bed, what time I started my day, how the routine of the beginning of my day works or what?

I'm sort of interested in the way your life is structured.

Right. Let me tell you. I have the most fantastic wife who gets up early to go to work and before she leaves the house she brings me a cup of coffee in bed. After reading something for a while I get up and sort out the house a bit (washing, general tidying) go to my desk, check my e-mails, open the post, check I know what commitments and appointments I have for today and if I have any more preparation to do for them and then, normally after about an hour, I take a break for breakfast.

This is my routine for most working days.

If someone asks you a question always make sure you know what they want to know. I could answer truthfully that I got up at 4.45 a.m. (loo), 6.00 a.m. (alarm), 6.55 a.m (woke up) and 7.40 a.m. (got out of bed for good) but none of these would be the information my questioner wanted.

Clarifying the question. Handy hint for coping with life number whatever we've got up to.


Jonathan Potts said...

This reminds me of the times people ask me "when do you get back from work so you can start helping with x,y,z"? Knowing full well that most of my work is done at home and though I could do loads of voluntary work instead of preparing lessons and doing research, and that techniquely I'm free to help them, actually I'm just going to doggedly refuse to help until 5.30pm.

Rainbow dreams said...

A very good point - so easy to answer the wrong question unintentionally! Have done that on occasion with children assuming they were asking from an adult viewpoint instead of a children's!! Answers sometimnes need clarifying too though :-)

Ferdinand R. Maudlin said...

wonderful post.