Asking Creative Questions: On Salad Tongs
A few Halloweens ago I was in San Francisco with one of my most favorite people, Sarah Prevette, of Sprouter.com. We were traveling, heading to Hawaii, so neither of us was particularly prepared for a Halloween party we were slated to attend that night. We spent the afternoon blowing around San Francisco putting together costumes.
Deciding we weren’t going in on the Halloween-is-an-Excuse-for-Women-to-Dress-like-Sluts phenomenon, I chose an outfit that involved the most unflattering (yet comfortable) garment on Earth: overalls. I was going as Rosie the Riveter.
We bee-lined to the local hardware store to get a pair of Carharts for my ensemble. Carharts obtained, and with a little time to spare, Sarah decided I was going to need to accessorize if I was really going to look authentic.
Sarah turns to the guy helping us at the store and, realizing I wasn’t going to purchase and drag around real, functional tools at this party, says:
Do you have anything that looks like a wrench that isn’t a wrench?
When I tell you my internal record needle skidded, it’s an understatement.
“…Looks like a wrench but isn’t a wrench? Is she insane?” This definitely ranked as a you-can't-be-serious moment.
…until the guy answered her.
“Uh, yeah. Right this way.”
I’m sorry. Yes? You do?
As it turns out, they certainly did have something that looked like a wrench that wasn't a wrench. It had never occurred to me that wrench-shaped salad tongs might exist, but...
The moral here is that Sarah wasn’t afraid to ask a question that sounded absolutely absurd to the rest of us because she knew there was an offhand chance that she’d get what she needed--a creative solution. That’s what makes her so brilliant.
I’ve wrestled with this story for a long time, and I’m wondering, how often are we afraid to ask ridiculous questions and then miss out on creative solutions because of it? I know I’m guilty of it. Are you?