According to an old Ananova report, a library in Holland has taken to lending out people as well as books. The library, based in Almelo, apparently had a program where you can “borrow,” for example, gay people, gypsies and Muslims for an hour and talk to them about their lives.
As with all news found on the Internet, it’s difficult to tell what’s true and what isn’t. But if the story is genuine, it’s an interesting idea. After all, most stereotypes and prejudices come from a lack of knowledge and personal contact. A heart-to-heart might be just the ticket.
I don’t envy the people who have agreed to loan themselves out though. It would take a person much more patient than I would be to answer 1) the same questions over and over again and 2) some of the questions that must come up with a straight face.
I also wouldn’t want to be related to someone who borrows someone from the library. This would be like living with a ex-smoker; just one hour with a Muslim and I’m sure that person would consider themselves an expert on Islam.
If the practice catches on, however, I would like to see it broadened to include more misunderstood groups. Here’s my sample list, along with the questions I’d ask:
Professional Athletes: Have any of you ever said, “No, really, I couldn’t possibly!” when offered more than a million dollars to hit a ball? Also: Is there something in those little water bottles that makes you talk in cliches when in front of the camera?
Defence Lawyers: I’d ask about their high fees, and how they can defend people they know to be guilty. The caveat here would be that words like caveat wouldn’t be allowed in the conversation; hiring a lawyer to understand a lawyer would be expensive.
Britney Spears fans: I’d have just one question: Why?!
Dentists: Here I’d want to know – did you become a dentist because you’re a sadist (drilling teeth) or a masochist (eight hours a day of bad breath)?
Car Mechanic: I’d lull the mechanic into a false sense of security, asking him about how hard his work must be, and looking over his pictures of his best fixes. Then I’d spring this one on him: “Tell the truth now, there’s no such thing as a flux capacitor in a car is there? And they don’t cost $350 plus labour do they?”
Toronto Maple Leafs Fans: Again, just one question: Why?!
Bartenders: What’s it like to be paid minimum wage to listen to people prattle on about their problems and ask you silly questions? Why are you doing it now for free?
Technical Support Staff: At what point in your training do they recommend resorting to the stock phrase, “The problem must be at your end?” Do you and your colleagues have running bets to see which of you can get a client at the other end of the phone to needlessly reformat their hard drive?
Non-chocoholics: Why not?!
Plumbers: Are your rates genuinely fixed, or do you have a tiered plan based solely on the amount of panic you hear in the caller’s voice?
Bankers: Is it true that each of you carries a picture in your wallet of the guy who invented service fees? Do you award “Employee of the Month” to the person in your bank who comes up with the most convoluted policy with regard to simple transactions?
Talk show hosts: Wait, this isn’t a misunderstood group we don’t know much about. Indeed, we know far, far too much about talk show hosts.
And possibly bloggers.
Photo credit: Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin O’Brien, via Wikimedia Commons