No Mr. Know-It-All

Back during those years at the research library, I worked with a guy who was the classic know-it-all, the proverbial walking encyclopedia. If someone came into the library and enquired about some random bit of knowledge they needed to finish off their PhD, or corroborate a fact for a television documentary that would be seen by millions of people, I might disappear into the stacks (library lingo for the area where the books were kept) for some twenty minutes, before coming back out and saying something like "well, I'm not sure, but maybe if you look up atlatl in the card catalog..." On the other hand, and if I recall, during the fifteen or so years we were coworkers, Mr. B was stumped for an answer twice - the first time was when he failed to supply a ready fact to the question of "how many people inhabited the Narragansett village at Salt Pond in the year 1414?" The second question to slip him up was even more problematic - "how many state capitals are there?" Other than those two instances, there was not a topic that could be brought before him that he could not go on and on at length about.

I don't know if you have ever known anyone like this, but if you have you will agree that it is truly something to witness.

Anyway, one day a researcher, realizing (as I had earlier) that the font of knowledge seemed to possess no limits, asked if there was any topic Mr. B could not speak fluently on. My coworker downplayed  the compliment admitting only that he knew enough to bluff his way through many topics.

Thank goodness the internet has taken all the pressure off. These days anyone, and I am a long standing member of the anyone category, with the ability to string a few words together can bluff his, or her, way along as some sort of expert. In less than a minute I can gather information about Felice Gimondi or Regis Delepine, and in a couple more type those out and ready to post up on this here blog. Thanks to the internet, I don't need to fill valuable mind-space with mounds of trivia and important data. True, I was familiar with Gimondi, at least in name if not in career specifics. But Delepine? If someone had asked me who Regis Delepine was I might have responded, "wasn't he the guy who discovered the source of the Mississippi River?" Nevermind that hundreds, maybe thousands of people had discovered it before he did. Then I would think about it a little before deciding he must have been the guy who came to fix the kitchen plumbing. Either way I would have been wrong. Good thing I don't need worry about making mistakes like that. Throw me a bone, and I will make a meal; throw me a name, and I will make a story.

If anyone needs me I will be on the computer. I need to look up some guy named Lemond.


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