There’s No Such Thing as a Stupid Question

My wife Staci doesn’t ask me to do many things.  She’s says I’m more trouble than it’s worth.

I don’t know what that means, but on Sunday she asked me to go to Walmart to get her photos and to pick up a metal bracket for a filing cabinet.

I didn’t know what a “metal bracket for a filing cabinet” was, so she showed me by opening the drawer of our filing cabinet.  They’re the metal bars that the hanging files hang from.

I asked her if you had to buy the hanging folders with the metal bracket and she said no.  But, I added, if you DO have to buy the hanging folders, did she still want me to buy the metal bracket?  Sure, she said.

So I got in my car, but stopped in the driveway.  Then I called the house on my cell phone.

“Where are you?” she said.

“I’m still in the driveway.”

“Why are you calling?”

“The pictures,” I said, “What name are they under?”

“Pastis.  What other name would they be under?”

“Could be Staci,” I said.

“They’re under Pastis.”

“Okay,” I said.

I hung up.

Halfway to Walmart, I called back.

“What?” she said.

“I forgot to ask — Do I have to pay for the photos or did you already pay for them online?”

“I told you, I paid for them online.”

“I don’t think you said that.”

“I did.  Is there anything else?”

“No.  But I really don’t think you said that.”

“Fine.  Anything else?”

“Yeah,” I said, “Do you know what aisle the metal brackets are in?”

“Just past the school supplies.  Is that it?”

“And the photo counter?”  I added.

“From the aisle with the brackets, just walk straight toward the back of the store.”

I got to the store and parked.  I walked to the aisle she told me to walk to.

There were no metal brackets.

I called Staci.

“They’re not here.”

“Did you ask someone?” she asked.


“Ask someone.”

I hung up the cell phone.  I asked someone with a little blue vest where the metal brackets that go in file cabinet drawers were.  They didn’t know.

I called Staci.

“They don’t know.”

“Fine.  Get the pictures.  You can at least do that.”

I found the photo counter.  I asked for the photos.  The lady in the blue vest asked me some questions.  I didn’t know the answer to any of them.

I called Staci.

“The lady here wants to know how long ago you submitted the photos.   I just told her you did it online.”

“Last week,” she said.

“Last week,” I told the lady in the blue vest.

She found the photos.  I looked at them.  There was some strange border around each photo.

They looked bad.

So I called Staci.

“The photos have some strange border that looks like white paint flecked everywhere.”

“I know.  I picked it.”


“I liked it.  Are you coming home now?”

“Yeah,” I said.

Driving away from the Walmart, I noticed an Office Depot in the same shopping complex.  I called Staci.

“What??” she said.

“There’s an Office Depot in the same parking lot as the Walmart.  You want me to check and see if they have the metal bracket things?”

“Alright.  Fine.”

I parked at the Office Depot.  It was closed.

I called Staci.

“It’s closed.”

She made a strange sound.

“You sound angry,” I said.

“Stephan…Come home.  The kids want dinner.”

“You want me to pick something up?” I asked.

She paused.

I heard a deep sigh, like the kind therapists tell their anger-management patients to take before punching someone.

“Fine.  They want five crunchy tacos and two beef chalupas.”

“Okay,” I said, “I can remember that.”

I hung up.

I called back.

“Where‘s Taco Bell?”

52 thoughts on “There’s No Such Thing as a Stupid Question

  1. My husband practices this. It’s called learned helplessness. His philosophy is, if he does a job poorly enough I’ll never ask him to do it again.

  2. All I can say is “Wow”…..
    The truth of husband and wives relationships is so universal, it should really be a world religion.

  3. You know, as much as I absolutely LOVE reading your stuff, and find you particularly hilarious, I think being married to you would try my patience to no end. You are lucky to have the wife you do.

    Thanks for the giggles!

  4. Thank goodness it wasn’t feminine protection, your wife would have been up a creek with you at the helm.

  5. Why is Facebook telling me that you are a fan of Ashton Kutcher? You’ve hit a new low…..

  6. Man!! you’re living my life!!! hahaha…i hate when the wifey says: “i told you!…you never pay attention!”….and i am pretty sure that SHE didn’t mention anything about the subject….but me going against her beliefs will just start another moronic discussion…so i let her be right on that…

  7. Are you related to my husband?

    Also, I think the WalMart near me is set up the same way.

  8. It gets worse than that as you generally need to know the manufacturer of your file cabinet to get the hanging file rails designed for it, unless you want a universal solution that usually rather annoying in daily use. 😦

  9. I think you do it on purpose. You just don’t like running errands, so you do the worst job of it as possible so you won’t have to next time. I know how it is. I’ve used that technique many times, and it always works.

  10. I feel your pain. I can be the same way too…drives people crazy! The more specific the instructions, the better.

  11. Every wife in America has had this same thing happen, and most likely, more than once. And we don’t know why we continue to ask things of our spouses that they just cannot handle – like going anywhere unsupervised 🙂

  12. Each post makes me think that my roommate is your long lost brother – he’s in law school, but not loving it, shares your sense of humor, and we have had the conversation(s) you mentioned. Can I send him to live with you?

  13. I’d reccommend doing something really nice and unexpected for your wife, but by this point, it would probably scare the hell out of her…”Oh Stephan, what have you done NOW?”

  14. Do you know who else practices Learned Helplessness? Welfare Moms. Way to go, Pastis.

  15. You might want to try harder. You’re no longer a lawyer. You’re a cartoonist. Give the poor woman something to brag about.

  16. When the stress of my job gets too much, I just read your blog & the strip & my life doesn’t seem so bad anymore. 😉

  17. I laughed and laughed. At least you asked! Tara was dead right, every wife in America has had this conversation. When our son was a baby, I sent DH to the store for diapers. I told him to remember 3 things: Drypers, blue, large. 3 words wasn’t too much, right? He came home with MEDIUM-large diapers, which would barely go around one of our son’s legs. I pointed this out and he looked at me with wide, hurt eyes and said “It says ‘large’ on the package.”

  18. Another fine product of our legal education system! You just need to hire a paralegal to assist you with all these errands!

  19. i’m just like you steph, i also need assurance before taking decision…

    This Post was hilarious, btw.

  20. Staci,

    Next time send one of the kids with Pastis. They will remember all those little things.

  21. I work at Wal*Mart, and I already knew how this would end. Three years working there and I didn’t even know they sold the little-hangy things seperately.

  22. I have discovered that men do this on purpose just so they don’t have to do these sorts of things.

  23. It takes a talented person to describe that life in humorous terms. My wife puts up with me in the learned helpless mode just for the stories; it makes her life seem much less depressing.

  24. The fact that you are not my husband is what allowed me to laugh and think “holy crap” while I read that.

    If you were my husband, there would still be the “holy crap” but no laughter involved.

  25. You asked a person in a blue vest for help?

    If you had received an answer, just remember, you get what you pay for.

    I know this from experience, I worked at Target for a number of years in the electronics department and knew as much as the copy on the box on the shelf.

    Sometimes that would impress “guests” when they said “Wow, it says the same thing here on the box!”

    Rat being my alter-ego/hero, when I was close to quitting that particular job, I would tell “guests” anything that struck my fancy and let the next schulb who got hired pick up the pieces.


  26. We have a lot in common, Stephan. At least you’ll probably never be asked to any chore again!

  27. I bet she’ll hide a gun in those burritos.

    That sounds like something i would do, except i’d do it on purpose. for example: We were locked out of our house, my dad was asleep, and my mom was mad, because no matter how many times she rang the doorbell, he wouldn’t get up. My mom tried calling the house since he had a phone in his room. we were sitting on the front porch and we could hear the phone ringing from inside. I screamed, “OH MY GOODNESS!!!! WE’D BETTER OPEN THE DOOR AND GET THE PHONE QUICK!!!” I went over to the door, tried to open it and yelled, “OH NO!! IT’S LOCKED!!!!! When my dad finally got up i had to stay outside for EVER…. btw, could you get me some tacos?

  28. i don’t agree with the first comment. walmart does good because they can put there prices lower than any other store. it’s not there fault they do good business. But i agree that they are putting mom and dad stores out of business, and i still shop there when i can, but there is some stuff they just don’t have, or is just too much… Like i play guitar so i shop at small stores when i can. Or another example is that i order my Kuretake Fudegokochi brush pens for my comic strip from smaller businesses.

  29. If I remember correctly Rat once said there are no stupid questions, just stupid people asking questions.

  30. My only advice on this one is, Go buy her flowers and Dark chocolate … on my wife everytime !

  31. i think this is funnay! but i do feel a tad wee bit sorry for Staci. omg like honestly but also…honestly…i wish more men (where i live) would ask more questions if they’re not sure about something. initiative is good but not when i don’t like the initiative :). macho men down here in el Caribe!

  32. Asking store workers is the cheater’s easy way out. Better to ask your loved ones or wander aimlessly throughout the store. Even better is never to be placed in a situation where you have to ask questions. Stasis is where it’s at baby!

    Also, shame on this post for eliciting socio-economic discussion. Where’s my Internet Happy Box?

  33. What amazes me about my husband is that at one time he could shop for himself and feed himself. He lost those abilities when he said “I do!” He and the kids (both male) will call me AT WORK to ask “Where are my cleats?” or “Where did I put my car keys?” Well the last time that I used them, I put them back where they belonged.

    After you get over being aggravated, you have to laugh. Laughing at ourselves is all that keeps the Routinees at bay. Keep up the awesome work making us laugh!

  34. I am at work laughing my fricking ass off because you have to be without a doubt the funniest man alive! I love love love your strips and have all the books! Well, almost the funniest man alive… i think Jerry Lewis is damn funny too… The chicken story I snorted on… I am a snorter, by the way. I have wanted to say for some time that people who complain about your strip either have way too much time on their hands or they shouldn’t be reading your strip and be with the other dumb drivers on the side of the road! Long live the pig!

  35. O seriously,this fully ROCKS!!! I luv the lil *blue vest* thing. LOL. You’ve got talent,man…

  36. Too funny, I didn’t get through all the comments but the first one or so said something like- this is intentional helplessness, they do this so you wont’ ask again- bingo, and if you write a detailed list so they wont call and pull this crap then you’re a control freak. Single Mom now : ) So much easier to do myself 🙂

  37. Ola! Stephanpastis,
    Neat Post, Numerous salesmen around the globe start their particular recruiting calls by asking the other person, “How have you been today? inch The reason why? Is this query likely to enhance the purpose of the particular salesperson? An additional issue which numerous salesmen ask is, “How will be your day time going up to now? inch I actually don’t know exactly where these concerns came from or even who will be advertising them, but as far because their use within a marketing situation is involved they must be fallen because they are foolish.

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