I Do Not Know Everything

Or: Why I Will Totally Mess with People Who Constantly Ask Me Questions That Don’t Pertain to My Job

When I first became an official grown up*, I was so excited. I’d conquered college. I’d graduated with honors. I had a cap, a gown, and the world’s most expensive piece of paper proving I was ready to be gainfully employed. I was about to become a professional.

*When I received my very first mildly threatening phone call from the people who own my student loans.

But it came with a hat

Ahhh…the naive enthusiasm of youth. That piece of paper cost $87,000.

I started my career as a Publisher’s Assistant**, which is about as low on the corporate ladder as you can get. EVERY question I was asked pertained to my job. I knew when every meeting was, I knew how to contact printers, and I knew exactly which exotic land (Iowa) was shipping that giant box of fortune cookies we’d ordered. I knew how much it weighed and how many days it was due in transit. I felt like a knowledge guru. It was epic.

**All-purpose office minion.

And it was my job.

Now I am older. I’m probably wiser. But mostly, I’m a more specialized*** asset for my employers.


Climbing the corporate ladder means my job no longer includes a lot of the in-office maintenance, and it also involves knowing less about projects I have nothing to do with. Mostly because I’m being paid to deal with completely different projects (which I happen to know lots about. Oodles, even.)

On the one hand, it’s kind of sad to not know about where boxes of fortune cookies are in transit. On the other hand, I know more about things like “Return on Investment” and “market response.” I still try to know as much as possible about what’s going on around me, but some things I just have no reason to know.

(I’d still like to know where the boxes of cookies are, though.)

But that doesn’t stop people from asking me lots and lots of questions about things I’m not involved in. Without providing context. It’s perplexing, and kind of implies they think I know everything.

This is becoming an exciting new game for me, and a dangerous game for them. Because I like making things up. It’s like a science experiment.

I'm serious. People ask me this. A lot. Maybe I'm accidentally dressing like a US Postal Service employee every day?

I’m serious. People ask me this. A lot. Maybe I’m accidentally dressing like a US Postal Service employee every day?

Coworker: “So how much does this box weigh?”

Me: “Three tons. You are amazingly strong.”

Coworker: “No! Seriously. I need to know.”

Me: “Why are you asking me?”

Coworker: “Because I need your help.”

Me: “…What?”

Coworker: “So how much does it weigh?”

Me: “…127 ounces. And be sure to get them to add flammable liquid insurance****. It won’t ship without it, and I heard someone say we need to get it on every package we send.”

Coworker: “Really? Thanks!”

Me: “Have fun at the Post Office.”

****Apparently this box was full of promotional notepads.

This may seem a little harsh. What you need to know, however, is that my job has literally nothing to do with shipping things, or with determining box weights. Our office also has a scale. (Like I said: Everyone is on a diet.) Periodically, I remind people that their guess is as good as mine. In fact, their guess is probably better than mine, because shipping things is part of their job, and they do it all the time. They’re good at it. I am not.

I'm changing my name to Encyclopedia Brown

^ Actual question I have been asked. Verbatim.

Coworker: “So, which form are we sending to the conference?”

Me: “Sorry, but I don’t know. I’m not part of the conference team. If I had to guess, I’d say Form A. But you should probably ask-“

Coworker: “You’re really being unhelpful.”

Me: “…The CEO. You should definitely go ask the CEO. He knows for sure.”

Coworker: “Isn’t he in meetings all day?”

Me: “I thought you said this was important. Probably important enough that he won’t mind if you barge right in and ask him about a conference that has a whole team dedicated to it.”

Generally, these questions occur while I am working on some sort of rapid turn-around project. That limits my ability to commit vengeance beyond bad advice and quick-fire sarcasm.

So, to save everyone’s time, I am confessing this here on the Internet.

I do not know everything.*****

*****Just a lot of things that absolutely no one should know.

Leave Me Alone

Someday, however, I am going to be less busy. Someday, I will get my revenge.