I am obviously one of those people who appears to know what they are talking about, because I am constantly getting asked questions that are way out of my league to answer. It happens to me in stores all the time. I'll be at Whole Foods, wearing whatever I slept in the night before, with my hair all askew, my jacket on, my bag over my shoulder, reading the ingredients on a box, and someone will say, "Excuse me, what time do you close?"
For serious, this happens to me all the time.
Similarly, when I am up on Mt. Tam hiking, other hikers are always stopping me to ask me for directions. This happens to me whether I am alone or in a group. The other day, I went for a hike with my friends Lark and Mira, and I was stopped three times for directions. No one asked Lark or Mira anything; it was always clearly directed at me.
In these situations, I generally find it best to just answer the question as if I know the answer quite definitely. "Absolutely, I do know how to find the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Trail. You just keep going up this way until you see a big Sycamore tree, and it'll be off to your left."
I don't even know if Sycamore trees grow on the West Coast, but no one ever questions me. They just thank me vehemently and follow my advice. I wonder how many people have gotten lost following my directions?
I think this all comes from being a big sister and a latchkey kid. I had to figure a lot of things out on my own when I was growing up. Mostly, I figured them out by reading. I am pretty sure I learned to read when I was still in the womb. I learned how to use the English language from books.
The interesting thing about learning from books is that you develop a unique vocabulary based on what books you choose to read. So, I know a lot of really random words. The down side of this is that you don't learn proper pronunciation from books. To this day I get laughed at every time I mispronounce the word "bury." I also can never remember how to say this word: "thesaurus."
Speaking of reading, here's another great clip from spoken word artist Taylor Mali called "Reading Allowed." Get it?