Have you ever gotten one of those emails from Amazon, asking you to help answer a question? One that says something like: “A customer has asked a question about a product that you have purchased in the past. Can you help this person with an answer?”
I’ve been asked about the fragrance of a face cream or the thickness of an iphone case. I’m happy to share what I know.
So this week, I had a question of my own. And the response I got was surprising. And in a small way – profound.
This Summer, I found a new hobby. Or rather, I rediscovered an old one. I went as a guest to a watercolor painting class. I loved it. I took another and another, and then bought new paints (from France, no less). And I’ve been painting twice a week since.
You may have seen a few recent post of mine with watercolor illustrations. They are the product of my reinvigorated love for painting.
And I’ve been watching amazing watercolorists on YouTube. People describe being bored as ‘watching paint dry’. But OMG, I can watch artists paint all day. I am truly fascinated by watching paint dry.
But when you watch a certain genre of videos with any regularity, you start to get ads. I’m very good at ignoring ads, but sometimes something sinks into my consciousness.
I saw some ads (actually the same ad dozens of times) for watercolor brush pens. These are like felt tip pens, only with a brush head and watercolor paint rather than opaque colored ink. The commercials made them look pretty nice.
So I found them on Amazon. They were relatively inexpensive and the reviews were good. But I had a question. How long did they last? I wondered whether the brushes might dry up right in the middle of the sky, so to speak.
So I posed the question.
And I got five answers.
And I was amused (and just slightly annoyed) that three of the five answers were “I don’t know.”
Why in the world would someone take the time to log in to answer that they didn’t have an answer?
The more I thought about it though, the more I was intrigued. Why WOULD someone do that?
And I have come up with two reasons – which can readily coexist and both be true:
First, I think that people want to be part of the conversation. They want to be heard.
And second, I think that people truly want to help, even if they just can’t.
Which is really sweet.
So I have decided to give a few more people that opportunity – in a small way. It’s something my husband does frequently, and I’ve always thought that he did so out of a combination of friendliness and nosiness. But now I see it is both of those things, but more.
When I am in the supermarket, I am going to notice what the person in front of me is buying. And I will say, “I see that you are buying the kind of soap (or soup) that I have been considering. Have you bought it before? Do you like it?”
And so I will give one person a little opportunity to be heard – and be helpful.
And I just might find some good shit I would have missed.