And no, I was not a bellhop at the time.

Filed under: by: Chris

People tend to ask me questions wherever I go. I’ve tried for years to figure out what it is about me that makes me so approachable or makes people think I knowledgeable, all to no avail.

When I went to a convention last weekend, I was there literally only long enough for me to get out of line and stop out of the way before someone asked me where something was. I explained that I too had just gotten there and didn’t really know, thought about it, and then managed to give them correct directions anyway. Over the course of the weekend, this would happen every few hours, with Saturday being the highest point. I was asked questions several times in the convention about things, and several times on the street about things, and even once in my hotel about where a wedding was being held. Granted, for that last one, I was dressed up in chef’s jacket and probably looked like a bellhop, but still.

And I still managed to give them correct directions.

The other major place that people ask me questions is in DC, which I include the metro in. If I were to run statistics about this, I’d have to say at least 85% of the time I go out into the city, I’ll get asked a question by a stranger. How do these card machines work? How we do get to Dupont Circle? How do I get the Museum of American History? Do you know when the next train is coming? When does this museum close? Do we have to pay to get into the Newseum? Where’s the closest food vendor?

And odds are, I know the answer, as I do with all those questions I just wrote. Even when I don’t know, I give them good enough general help that they just figure it out from there, or in some cases, my guess will be correct.

But why do all these random people ask me things? I would say it must be the glasses, but I proved that point to not be a catch-all when I was asked a question last weekend with my glasses off. They certainly don’t hurt my case that I look outwardly smart about things, but it can’t be just that. I also would have said that my hair made me look not very threatening when it was longer, but now that it’s shorter, the number of questions have only increased. I guess I don’t dress particularly offensively, which might help.

Or do I just exude an air of “I know what the hell I’m doing” in public? Often times I don’t know what I'm doing, but I hate looking like a tourist, so I just try and go wherever I going (even if I have no idea where that is) with a decent amount of confidence and let my wandering sense lead me where I need to be.

I suppose there are worse things in the world than being unusually approachable and seemingly knowledgeable (like being unusually unattractive and seemingly unkempt), so I should be thankful. Then again, what if such a quality lands me in a horrible place? Like, “Oh, we were going to kidnap the intended target, but this other guy just seemed so damn approachable that we had to go for him, and that he might know something we wanted to know!” Now that would be a blog post.