June 28, 2008
If you went to a large university or big corporation you have likely often been in the situation where someone asks you if you know someone that goes to school there or works there. 99% of the time the answer is no. That 1% is fascinating but because of the 99% the question itself just invokes and negative response.
The questions often start out the same, â€˜You probably donâ€™t know him but â€¦â€™ The relation is often some sort of odd chain of connections that enable this person to attempt to relate to you, â€˜My neighborâ€™s cousinâ€™s nephew goes to Penn State, do you know him?â€™ â€˜Nope sorry. Do you?â€™
There is the odd chance where the person is completely serious in their question. This happens often with my job because they donâ€™t realize that thousands of people in the area work for the same company. Still, itâ€™s either time to learn that fact or realize that they are a moron. When it comes to Penn State, you have no excuse, especially in Pennsylvania.
One of my favorite responses came on a plane on my way to my first spring break. There were quite a number of spring breakers on the flight. A few rows away someone asked the guys near her where they went to school. â€˜Oh! I know someone that goes there, do you know so and so?â€™ One of the guys replied with a shocked and confused tone, â€˜No. Thatâ€™s weird because I know all 40,000 people there.â€™
The question is asked so often that itâ€™s the perfect situation to try out all sorts of responses. The person asking usually knows youâ€™ve heard it a lot. Even if you wind up offending them in some way you can easily explain the situation. Explain that so many people go to your school or work at your company that youâ€™ve made a game of it after being asked so many times.
I thought of a few possible responses â€¦
Put the person in a bad light, yourself too if needed (sacrifice yourself for the good of the bit) â€“ â€˜Oh yea, heâ€™s my dealer.â€™ â€˜That kid always has the best weed.â€™ â€˜We went streaking one time, but we didnâ€™t hang out much after that.â€™
Have the person confused with someone else â€“ â€˜Did he have a peg leg?â€™ â€˜Mohawk?â€™ â€˜I think I know who youâ€™re talking about. Doesnâ€™t he go by Michelle now?â€™
Admit you didnâ€™t know anyone – â€˜I didnâ€™t have any friends.â€™ Then act broken up about it.
Tell them you went to the other Penn State (substitute your institution of choice here) – â€˜Oh no, I went to the the other Penn State, its a small Christian college in Mississippi.â€™ Donâ€™t worry that the school name doesnâ€™t fit. For bonus points act as though youâ€™ve never heard of this gigantic school that goes by the same name as the tiny college you are pretending to be attending.
Say a similar name but turn the question around â€“ â€˜Do you know Mike Janke?â€™ â€˜No, but I know a Phil Jenkins. Do you know him?â€™ Then start talking about what a great guy he is. I like this one because Iâ€™d have to work to come up with something good. On occasion Iâ€™d probably come up with a name that I loved and wouldnâ€™t be able to get it out without cracking up. Every once in a while Iâ€™d throw out a random name that is not at all similar to the name asked. If I were in a particularly evil mood I might switch sexes up on them.
Wear gear from other large schools – This lets you join in the fun if you did go to that small Christian college. I have some Florida Gators gear. If I wore it more often Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™d get asked about it. A few times Iâ€™ve had passers by yell â€˜Go Gators!â€™ Which is similar to someone yelling â€˜We Are!â€™ to a Penn Stater.