Answer The Question Asked, Part Two

Just because I find it an amusing story, and with the added benefit of being true:

Once upon a time I worked at one of the liquor stores here in Dinkytown just as an excuse to get out of the house and interact with people directly rather than as text on a screen. It was fun. Everyone was happy — even if you’ve just had a shitty day, when you walk into the liquor store and see all of that self serve psychotherapy on the shelves your day gets better immediately. It might have helped a bit that I’m a cheerful guy; many customers would drive right on by when the cranky old bitch who also worked there was holding the fort.

One fine evening a tourist pulled up to the drive-up window and asked, “Where’s the nearest McDonald’s?”. So I told him: “Pull out of the lot, turn left onto the highway, and it’ll be on the right in about 45 miles”. “Four or five miles?”, he asked. “No, forty-five miles”. He looked at me like I was being a jerk for answering the question he asked. “Okay then”, he said, “how about Burger King?”. “Turn right onto the highway, right again at the traffic signal, and it’ll be on the right in about, oh, three miles”. “And how far is that in total?” he asked. “Oh, probably about 52 miles”.

He was not so amused as I was. “I just want a fucking hamburger”, he told me, “So where’s the nearest place I can get one?”. “That’s easy”, I said, “turn right onto the highway and it’ll be on your right in about 200 feet. But you’ll have to walk in because there’s no drive-through”. He said “thanks” as he pulled away but I didn’t think he really meant it.


7 thoughts on “Answer The Question Asked, Part Two

  1. solberg73

    Yes, one of the gratifying add-ons of doing programming is that one learns a simple respect for machines which answer the question asked, no more/no less.
    Long ago I did a ‘talking blues’ routine, not original, which included some similar lines:
    “Does this road take me to Denver>
    ‘Nope, just sits here all day.’
    You know what I mean, haoe far is Denver?
    “Oh about 25000 miles the way you’re heading.’
    ‘Oy, if I turen around, can I take this road to Denver?’
    Nope they already got one there.’
    I’ll have to think of the rest of the lines.
    Hope the dude got trichinosis…

    1. happierheathen Post author

      It’s a sign of good character that one has found that respect. The cursor blinks because the program will not. 🙂

      Coincidentally, I’ve met several tourists here in Dinkytown who thought they were on their way to Denver and a few who were very reluctant to backtrack. Going between Grand Junction and Denver is so easy I don’t know how anyone could get it wrong: If you’re in one but want to be in the other, go uphill on I-70 and keep going until you’re not in the mountains any more.

      I’d love to see the remaining lines of that song!


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