Let’s be honest here: There is such a thing as a stupid question, or ask. I would say especially if you are a reporter!

I don’t think that’s just my bias. I was working in a small border town in Texas once. I had the local morning news on. Apparently, a small biplane made an emergency landing on the roof of an area motel in the middle of the night. So, here is the reporter, shoving a microphone in one of the evacuated hotel patron’s faces. He asks this man who is standing next to his wife, “Sir, were you surprised, when the plane landed on the roof of the motel?”  

Of course, the dude expresses his surprise, but I’d have given anything to hear him answer, “You know, I was saying to Clara here — that’s my wife, you know, Clara — I have a feeling a plane is going to make an emergency landing on our motel roof tonight!”

If we want to get esoteric, we can quote Carl Sagan who in his 1997 book, “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark,” “Every question is a cry to understand the world.” I am not sure I agree with Mr. Sagan.

The thing is, I believe that sometimes people ask dumb questions to get away with something. When they want to stall; “Oh, was I supposed to be doing resident care right now?” Or when they get caught doing something they shouldn’t: “You mean I shouldn’t be eating at the nurses station?” Or if they want to get our goat: “Was I supposed to take a fingerstick before giving insulin?” Or for a myriad of other reasons.

However, the stupidest questions are the ones you don’t ask. If you’re remaining silent to avoid asking questions for clarification or to gain a deeper understanding, or even to consider another outcome, that is the real meaning of a “dumb question.”

So don’t be a “Dumb Ask.” Be a “Smart Ask” instead. Ask to clarify, ask to learn, ask to understand. But please don’t ask me if I am surprised if a plane lands on my hotel roof!

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.