Multiple Choice: Answers versus Solutions

“A salad? A cold salad? It’s 40o F (4.4o C) outside, cold, windy and pouring down rain. You know the worse thing you can say to a hungry vegetarian in these conditions?  There is salad. We want hot food just like you!” You see, the vegetarian entrees at the restaurants were sold out, and this unsuspecting person, in an attempt to help, suggested salad. We vegetarians know our way around a menu and can typically make something work. In this case….salad was an answer, but not a solution. Little did I know this theme would repeat and the situation would kind of reverse itself, as they say, the table turned.

It’s a Sunday afternoon and what I thought to be a clever answer to a problem is actually not a solution at all. It’s just something to make people feel good. In London, I snapped a photo of this sign in the restroom. A whole campaign, #Ask for Angela.  

The idea is that a person feeling vulnerable can approach bar or security staff using the special code word ‘Angela’, then be met with support and measures to ensure their safety. 1

I’d thought about this clever post I’d write. Five minutes later and a google search, not so fast. A journalist went to bars over several weeks, did as instructed and sadly, staff at the bars did not know what to do and were confused.

One barman at a pub-come-eatery, seemingly never having heard of the scheme, left me alone (which is a no-no) and disappeared to ask his manager if they run Ask For Angela …1

We like to feel like a problem is solved. We love that peace of mind, if this happens then do this. But what if it is not true. Five years ago, someone commented people could just go to a homeless shelter. Several people were shocked when I informed them that shelters charge. The problem is practically inescapable now as thousands are unhoused. Five years ago, people seemed to have great comfort in the answer without an awareness, what was in place was not a solution the worked.

In a multiple choice test, there are several answers presented, yet, the answers are incorrect. Consider the multiple answer theme now, as solutions to problems. While things may sound good, bring you comfort and peace of mind, is it really a solution?


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