Traveling through Vancouver airport last week, I was at the layover immigration area. The man in front of me in line was in a hurry. The customs official was not.
He asked the passenger, “Have you been to an area where you could have come in contact with the Ebola virus?”
The passenger, who clearly did not understand the question, mumbled “Ah?”
The immigration official repeated the question, exactly in the same words, at exactly the same speed, but with an edge to his voice.
The passenger, who clearly still did not understand the question, mumbled.”Hah,” which sounded to the immigration official like an affirmative.
“You have?” he asked incredulously? “You have been to a country where there is an EBOLA outbreak?” This time he said the word Ebola with a little more emphasis.
The passenger, flustered, realized what was going on, and stammered, “No! No!”
With the problem cleared up, his passport was stamped and he was off, hopefully to catch his flight.
The immigration official was not particularly helpful, but the passenger also made a mistake. If you don’t understand the question, don’t say yes (or no, for that matter). I’ve seen this happen on many, many occasions, and I’ve been guilty of it, too. You don’t want to admit that you don’t understand, so you try to play along. Big mistake, sometimes.
Here’s a short article about how many creative people say no. It’s an interesting article, though I don’t believe we, as contributing members to society, should get into the habit of automatically saying no.
“Creative People Say No” (from Medium)