Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – March 13, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – March 13, 2004 – Stupidity is “the quality or state of being stupid”. So what pray tell is stupid? My old, reliable friend Webster’s Dictionary defines stupid as: benumbed, slow of mind, obtuse, given to unintelligent acts or decisions, lacking intelligence or reason, marked by or resulting from dullness, exasperating or vexatious.
For my purposes, I’m only going to deal with the aspects of “stupid” relating to ‘unintelligent acts or decisions’. I’m totally convinced that the world as we know it, has nothing to fear from meteors flying through space, bird flu, global warming, SARS, acid rain, gay marriage, Anna Nicole Smith, The Osbournes or major underwater fault lines – rather stupid people and stupidity will do us in!
Jay Leno’s famous quote to Hugh Grant after Hugh was arrested with a prostitute – “What were you thinking” – really sums it up quite nicely.
The whole point about stupid people is that, either they were not thinking at the time of their stupid act or they are not capable of rational thought. You can almost forgive someone for not thinking at the time of a stupid decision. Hugh is a case in point. But what if you are “stupid” – not dull intellectually – but just plain stupid?
Not to say that most of us at times in our lives haven’t been stupid, because we have. I’ve done and said stupid things. I’ve been guilty of gross stupidity – not recently of course, but during my lifetime. My stupidity has mostly been related to men and money, not necessarily in that order. Okay, okay in that order. But I’m a recovering stupidaholic, attending at least one meeting a week of Stupidaholics Anonymous!
The problem with stupid people is that their actions don’t just affect them. If that were the case we could just sit back with a big bag of Orville Reddenbacher’s best popcorn and enjoy the show. Think about a show on reality television dedicated exclusively to stupid people. Wait, maybe that’s been done already. The fact is that stupid people affect our lives on a daily basis. How you ask?
Last year I was out walking Augie on a lovely, warm spring day. Augie is never off his lead unless he is in my house, or my garden which is completely fenced. We were about two blocks from home when a Volvo station wagon drove up on the opposite side of the street. A man jumped out of the driver’s side of the car followed by his large, unleashed dog. Said dog immediately charged across the street and attacked Augie. The man had his dog’s leash looped around his waist. By this point the dog had ripped a gash through Augie’s ear and punctured holes in his lip and the side of his head. Augie was bleeding badly from the wound in his ear and at a distinct disadvantage because he was on a leash. The man dragged his dog away and then started screaming at me. He said and I quote, “My dog would never have attacked your dog, if your dog wasn’t walking on the sidewalk”. Now – that is a stupid man. Defensive because he knew he was wrong. The vet bill was still mine!
A couple of years ago I was on my way to meet a client on another sunny April day. Perhaps I should stay at home in the spring! On this particular day, my car was rear-ended by a man who just happened to be speeding, talking on his cell phone and looking into the back seat of his car at his son at the same time. My car was rammed ahead into the car in front of me. Both of the other cars had small children in them, and not one of them was safely secured in a regulation kiddie car seat. Fortunately nobody was seriously injured. However my car incurred thousands of dollars damage and I spent three months in physiotherapy, suffering from the aftereffects of whiplash. All this because of a stupid man.
Now just in case you think this is a gender issue, or that I’m unfairly picking on the male of the species, this incident will alleviate your concerns. Stupidity knows no bounds. Perhaps, because I’m in my car so much, I see stupidity related to cars and drivers on a frequent basis. Two weeks ago I was waiting in line for gas at a self-serve gas station. A woman two cars in front of me was filling her gas tank. She had the hose stretched across the back of her car because she had driven in on the wrong side of the pump.
She was also talking on her cell phone and we know this is a no-no at a gas station. She was holding the gas nozzle with one hand and she moved her cell phone between her ear and her shoulder to hold it in place. She then proceeded to open the back door of her car with the other hand and was rooting around in the back of her car looking for something. She obviously couldn’t reach whatever she wanted so she popped back out of the car and took the gas nozzle out of the tank.
I don’t know if she slipped inside the car but she compressed the nozzle handle and gas stared to spray all over the side of the car and onto the ground. The man in the car directly in front of me jumped out of his car and ran up to her yelling, “Hey, lady what are you doing?” She dropped the gas nozzle on the ground and re-appeared from the back seat. The cell phone was gone. She seemed a little dazed.
I was just witnessing stupidity at its best. The man was gesturing at the side of her car. She started yelling back at him and waving her arms around like a lunatic, then stomped off to pay the gas bar attendant. The man shook his head and looked back at me for some sort of validation. I rolled down my window and said, “It’s the stupid gene at work.” He laughed and got back into his car. Miss loonie tunes re-appeared, gave the man the finger, jumped into her car and drove off.
There you have it. Stupidity on a small, personal scale. One can only imagine, on a global scale, how stupidity and its twin – ‘stupid people’ contribute to war, corruption, religious zealotry, cruelty, the destruction of our animal and plant life, the unbelievable mis-management of tax dollars, debt, famine, political scandal, bigotry and disease. Not to say that these things would not exist if the world was populated only by intelligent people, because they would – but just at a lesser level.
However, stupidity makes it so much easier for self-serving people to manipulate the masses. Stupid people tend to accept authority and follow orders without question. I for one, am on the look-out for stupid people at every turn. The second one comes into my radar I attempt to glide off in another direction, hoping that our paths won’t cross. When a meeting is unavoidable I attempt to cut short the duration and extricate myself with alacrity.
Alas, stupidity is here to stay. A sense of humour is essential in its presence and laughter often erupts due to the antics of the stupid. I endeavour to keep my stupid moments in check and to have an open mind when a stupid instance has my name attached to it. But ever onward, ever upward – stupidity can’t be outlawed and it will never be banished, it’s just too prevalent. And just think, if stupidity was no more – who would we have to laugh at? Remember – “Stupid Is As Stupid Does” …