People Who Can’t Read

It’s one of the little things that drive me nuts.

It’s not really people who can’t read. It’s the people who don’t read.

I run a Web site called wickenburg-az.com that’s surprisingly popular as a source of information about the town. You could check it out and find out what the Town Council will be debating at the next council meeting and learn about some neat things to do in the area and read some humor by the Arizona’s Official Liar. You can also find some information about the few Wickenburg businesses worth writing about — let’s not go there right now, okay? — and see some photos of the town and read letters to the editor of the local paper that they either won’t print or won’t print before their authors get sick of waiting to see them.

And if the information you find there isn’t enough, you can go to the contact page — like so many people do — and find the following statements:

All of the information we have about Wickenburg, its businesses, and its events are included on this Web site. We do not have any additional information that we can send out to site visitors….Please do not use the form to ask the Webmaster questions about Wickenburg. Your questions will not be answered.

The bold text appears on the page in bold. I did it that way on purpose, so people would see it easier. Evidently, it doesn’t help them read or comprehend it. Because I continue to get e-mail messages submitted via the form with all kinds of questions about the town.

Like today’s messge, written by a man with a stuck CAPS LOCK key. He wants to know if our library “rents” DVDs and if he can get a temporary library card. How the hell should I know? Does he expect me to drop everything and call the library for him? Why doesn’t he pick up the damn phone and call the library himself? Did running a Web site make me his personal assistant?

Or the woman who wrote asking for information about the gated communities in town. What the hell does she think Wickenburg is? A suburb of Scottdale? There are no gated communities here.

Or the retired couple who were looking for the 55+ trailer park with the cactus sculpture out front. Do they think I drive around town looking at trailer parks? I actually made the mistake of answering this e-mail message, telling them I had no idea what park they were talking about. They had the nerve to write back and ask me to look for it.

Like I don’t have anything else to do with my time.

And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten requests for information about events that might or might not be held in town. wickenburg-az.com has a calendar of events online. If an organization doesn’t submit event information to me, how am I supposed to know about it? So not only is it not listed, but as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t exist.

So now, when I get these messages, I delete them. I just press the old delete key without sending a response, leaving the sender wondering if their message ever got to anyone. It’s the best way to deal with it. They don’t write again. At least not to me.

Call me a bitch. You won’t be the first — or the last.

But if people can’t take the time to read simple information in bold type above a form, why should I take the time to answer their unwelcome questions?

4 thoughts on “People Who Can’t Read

  1. We won’t resort to name calling. Over the past several months, I have enjoyed reading about several of your trips/flights/journeys/experiences. However, I am not a Wickenburg resident and I am one of those ‘retirees’ who would possibly like to relocate to ‘the edge of nowhere’. Sooner or later, I am bound to irritate the ‘webmaster’ in some way, so please unsubscribe me from getting emails about new posts.

    Bye for now.

  2. Welcome to the Information Profession, previously known as Librarianship; all that you describe is true and funny but unfortunately typical of how the GBP (Great British Public) aka anyone, anywhere, relate to providers of information. There is no limit to what they think they can expect or that you can provide. If they haven’t already, they’ll surely report on a perceived failing of Google because you, with your website, clearly have a hot-line to the Google team. You can also be relied on to tell them how long to par-boil an egg and how to find their missing socks – start a new section, title it “Lost Socks” and simply copy and paste every dumb question you get on anything.

  3. Niklas, I see you’ve observed this phenomenon too. What gets me is how lazy people can be — how they’ll use a Contact link to try to get information above and beyond what’s offered — instead of using the ‘Net to find the phone number of the organization that should be able to answer their question.

What do you think?