The Question

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When people come out to visit us, one of the first things we usually do is give them a farm tour.  We show them the pigs, the goats, the geese and ducks, the chickens, and the rabbits.  People rarely want to see the vegetable garden.  I guess people don’t love veggies as much as meat.

At some point during the tour, they will almost always, without fail, ask The Question.  I know that they are going to ask The Question.  I can usually even tell you when they are going to ask it.  Extreme extroverts ask it right away.  Extreme introverts ask it at the end of the tour, trying to word it just right.  The majority of people ask it somewhere in the middle, usually with an impressed look on their face as they are petting one of the fifty rabbits we have grazing on pasture.

The Question is…

“What are you going to do with all of these rabbits?”

It took me a long time to come up with the perfect answer.

I needed an answer that was honest, but maybe not as blunt as I can sometimes be.  I also am always looking to educate people, because I think lifelong learning is important.

To find the perfect answer, I turned to a memorable event from my college days.

Let me tell you a story.

Part of my lengthy college stint was spent at the University of Minnesota.  This is a really good school, and it was in state so it wasn’t obscenely expensive for me.

When I was going to the University of Minnesota, I lived off campus.  I had a nice little apartment in the basement of an actual house.  This house was in an okay neighborhood, but like all neighborhoods in large cities, the okayness varies by the block.

I took the city bus to get to my job and school, which I had to catch in a slightly less okay part of the neighborhood.  I didn’t really notice the varied okayness between these two places, or any of the really not okay places my bus went through because I tend to look at the ground while I’m walking (I trip over things a lot) and I usually had my nose buried in a book when I wasn’t walking.  That was my favorite thing about public transportation.  It drastically increased my reading time.

I pretty much thought the city bus was heaven.

I wasn’t too intimidated by taking the city bus because I had taken the school bus all through my public school years.  I figured I would just apply what I knew about the school bus to the city bus.  Mainly, the cool kids sit in the back and have fun, while the dorky kids in danger of getting beat up sit in the front, so the bus driver can protect them.

I sat in the middle, because frankly, twelve years of sitting in the front seat had me ready for a change.

I sat in the middle (so liberating) and read to my heart’s content.

Then, things gradually started to change.

One day, a young man who was sitting diagonally from me started to try to make small talk.  “It’s really cold out, isn’t it?”  I don’t do small talk.  You live in Minnesota, what kind of weather did you expect?

I mostly rolled my eyes and gave one word answers without looking up.  I was happy when he got off the bus before me.

Every day he continued to talk to me, mostly asking questions, and every day I looked forward to him getting off the bus, because I don’t really like social.  Gradually, I noticed the questions becoming more personal.  “Do you live with your family?” “Do you have a boyfriend?”  And finally, they started getting inappropriate. “Are you a dancer?  Cause you have the legs of a dancer.”

What does that even mean?  Also, I have the legs of a tree trunk, so lets not insult all of the dancers, okay?  And trust me, I definitely would NOT be “so much prettier” if I just smiled.

I started to dread the bus ride and brought heavier books, just in case.

Then he stopped getting off the bus ahead of me.  He started getting off the bus with me.  I would pretty much run to my on campus job, which, thank God, he never entered.

I was pretty sure he didn’t even go to the University.

Terror set in the morning he was waiting for me at my bus stop.

The second I saw him I ducked around the corner and went back home.  It didn’t appear that he had seen me

First, I called work and told them I overslept and would be late.  Then, I called my dad at work and begged him to come pick me up.  My dad was a special agent for the FBI in Minneapolis.  I figured I’d be safe.

On the ride to school/work my dad asked me for a description of the man.  Then he said “I don’t think you need to worry too much about it.  He’s probably harmless.”

“But I think he was trying to find out where I live.” I argued “I am usually alone in that house.  I don’t think this is a safe situation!”

“You’ll be fine.” he said  “He’ll probably give up now that he didn’t see you today.  He’ll probably give up and you won’t see him again.”

“Dad, I really don’t think that’s how stalkers work!” I informed him, as if he knew nothing about the criminal mind.  “Also, he takes the same bus I do.  Like every day!  I need to know what to say to make him go away.”

“I really don’t think it’s going to be a big deal,” He said, like I was a small child afraid of the dark “but I’ll tell you what.  If he ever does bother you again, just call me and let me know.  Also, you shouldn’t be so afraid to punch people in the nose.”

I was not going to win this conversation.  My dad frequently advised me to punch people in the nose when I was freaking out unnecessarily about a social situation.  It was his way of telling me to relax about things I couldn’t control.

I have never punched anyone in the nose, in case you were wondering.

The next day, I nervously walked to the bus stop.

No stalker.

I got on the bus.

No stalker.

I watched everyone I came across like a hawk for the next week.

The stalker was nowhere.

It got to the point where I started questioning my sanity.  Did I imagine him?  Did I imagine the whole situation?  It didn’t help that the bus driver always seemed to be looking at me, and for the next couple of weeks, the bus would get really quiet when I would get on it.

Either I was becoming seriously paranoid, or something had happened.

I called my dad again and asked him.  “Did something happen to the guy who was following me on the bus?”

“What are you talking about?” he asked, confused.

“Remember?  When you gave me a ride to school?  Because that guy was following me?  What happened to him?”

“I’m sure he just left on his own.” he said.

I was pretty sure that wasn’t exactly the answer.

A little later in the conversation he randomly said “Sometimes people shouldn’t ask questions they don’t want the answer to.”

It didn’t really fit into the conversation, but I knew that it was the answer to my earlier question.

I’m sure nothing too sinister happened to this man.  He was probably visited by some officer of the law on the bus.  Maybe he had some sort of outstanding warrant and was arrested.  More likely he was sternly told to please leave the introverted bookworm alone. One thing I do know is that my dad had a solid reputation for doing the right thing, and that this young man’s fate was probably none of my business.

There’s also the very real possibility that I was just paranoid and this guy got bored and moved on.

This memory gave me my answer, though.

I have an answer that is honest and that also imparts a bit of wisdom.

When people ask “So, what are you going to do with all these rabbits?”

I just smile and say “Maybe we don’t ask questions that we really don’t want the answer to.”

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