Q: I'm curious. What is dumbest business question you've ever been asked? -- Norris W.
A: Shame on you, Norris. There is no such thing as a dumb business question. OK, that's not exactly true. There are dumb business questions and I do get quite a few of them. Not through this column, of course. People intelligent enough to actually use a computer and surf World Wide Web would never submit dumb questions now, would they. OK, that's a lie, too. I've gotten a few head-scratchers in response to this column. You know who you are, but don't worry, your secret is safe with me.
I have a confession to make. Writing an advice column, whether it be advice for love or money or business, is often hard to do with a straight face. Occasionally a question comes over digital transom that just makes me go, "Huh?"
It's kind of like trying to stifle a giggle when Grandma breaks wind at Sunday dinner. Some things are just better left ignored.
Of course it's hard to blame a dumb business question on dog.
I've been writing advice columns for a long time. Most of requests for advice I receive are sincere and intelligent, and as a (usually) sincere and (somewhat) intelligent columnist, I feel obligated to dispense best advice I can for betterment of person who asked question.
However, once in a while a real stinker hits old email box and it takes everything I've got to resist shooting back an answer that is worthy of question asked.
In other words, when I get a dumb question, my gut reaction is to respond with an answer of equal intelligence, or lack thereof. Something subtle, like, "Forget business, my friend. The best thing you can do for mankind is to go find a pair of sharp scissors and run… really fast…"
Stupid is as stupid does, Forrest. Greater words of wisdom have rarely been offered before or since.
Then I remember that as an advice columnist I have a duty to my reader, my editor, my publisher, and above all, to my family, who enjoys eating on a regular basis. There aren't too many openings for smart aleck writers anymore (darn that Dave Berry), so I bite my tongue and respond to question as intelligently as I can. That usually involves requesting more information from reader so I can offer an informed answer. It's not as satisfying as firing off a sarcastic retort, but it is much better on old bank account.