Monday, June 20, 2011

Stupid People: The “I Fail To Learn My Lesson” Person

A mechanic I know told me a story about a woman who came in to have her passenger side mirror replaced on her car. The thing was… it wasn’t the first time. This woman had the same mirror replaced four or five times on a car she had owned for only a couple of years because she would continually break it off while backing out of her garage.

Now I can accept someone breaking off a mirror… I even did something similar once myself while trying to squeeze around a car parked in the middle of the driveway. I might even be able to accept someone doing it twice when they failed to learn the lesson the first time or maybe were driving a different vehicle. However, if you break off the same mirror four or five times in a span of two years, how smart could you possibly be? How many times do you actually need to do something stupid before you stop and ask yourself how you can prevent from it happening again?

Since hearing this story I often have wondered what someone like that does for a living. What if she was a doctor or a dentist or worse – a politician. I’m not sure stupidity is isolated to only one area of the brain, so needless to say if this was my doctor I’d be finding myself a new doctor, and if this was my politician… I’d probably move to a new district as I would be embarrassed to be represented by an idiot.

I also see stupid people who get married and divorced time and time again. You see celebrities who have been married seven or eight times and they end up divorced over and over again. Don’t you think that after your fourth or fifth failed marriage you might stop to think – hey maybe this whole marriage thing isn’t for me because I clearly suck at it? Sure you can blame a few marriages on the other person, but when you are filing for your seventh divorce I think it is safe to say you haven’t learned your lesson and likely never will.

I fully realize we all do stupid things, but most of us learn from our mistakes and hopefully do our best to prevent making those same mistakes time and time again. However the more and more I look around me, the more and more stupid people I see. This is precisely why tax preparation companies are so popular during tax season, because if a person can’t manage to back out of their garage without breaking off their mirror time and time again, or if they can’t manage to have a successful marriage after six or seven attempts, they aren’t very likely to be able to fill out a tax return even if they only need the 1040EZ form.

You often hear people say that people are smart but they just do stupid things. I have to say I totally disagree with that. There was a Seinfeld episode where Jerry asked Elaine what percentage of people she thought were good looking and she answered twenty-five percent. Jerry then said “Twenty-five percent, you say? No way! It's like 4 to 6 percent. It's a twenty to one shot.

I don’t know if I would go so far as to say 4 to 6 percent is the magic number, but there is no way I would claim that more than 20% of the human race is considered smart. I’m not even going so far as to say you have to hold a PhD or understand advanced level thermodynamics or quantum theory here… I’m merely talking about the amount of people who don’t do or say stupid things on a regular basis.

I hate to sound negative, but I’d estimate 80% of our population is comprised of stupid people, which probably explains the popularity of things like the Snuggie, vaccine-causing-autism conspiracy theories, Jersey Shore, and the belief that there really is such a thing as Bigfoot.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stupid People: The “I Can’t Grasp The Concept Of Volume” Person (Volume 5)

This will likely be the last in my series of “volume related” stupid people stories although I’m sure I could easily write another dozen or so if I was up to it. This last episode is one of my personal favorites and sticks in my memory like it happened yesterday. I’ve told this story to several people over the years, and for some reason even after almost 20 years since it actually occurred, I still find it rather comical.

I was working in the back room of ShopKo stocking shelves and doing whatever it is I normally did in the course of my shift when I received a page for a delivery (yes we carried pagers… needless to say this was the 90s). I called up to the register and was told a gentleman had just purchased a swing set and needed it carried out.

Now normally we would have the person drive around back and we would load the swing set there, but that required a manager to unlock the rear door and at the time none of them were in the immediate area. Rather than chase one of them down and waste the customer’s time, I decided to just grab another fellow employee and have him help me get it loaded onto two carts.

Keep in mind the largest swing sets came in boxes that were about 10 feet long, two feet wide, and 12-18 inches tall or so. I don’t remember the weight, but we generally would not even try to handle them alone. So in this case we placed a rolling flatbed under each end and proceeded to drive it to the front of the store as if it was one of those hook and ladder (fire) trucks you see with a guy on the front and the back both steering.

When we met the customer the first question out of my mouth even before bothering to haul this thing any further was to ask him what type of vehicle he drove. He immediately understood what I was getting at once he saw the size of the box, and he told me he drove a full size van, so it would not be a problem fitting it inside. Admittedly I was very relieved to hear this, so we followed him out the door and to his van.

When I saw the van I was extremely happy. Not only was this a full size van, but it was one of those extended vans with two full doors on the back to make access extremely easy. However, as soon as he opened the doors I saw a problem. The van was full of bench seats because it wasn’t really a cargo van – it was a 14 passenger van… and the seats did not fold down nor were they removable (without tools at least). The swing set was too large to fit under the seats, so our options were somewhat limited.

No problem – the customer just told us to lay it across the top of the seats and he would haul it that way. I knew it would fit so that wasn’t the issue, but I wasn’t sure the seats would appreciate having a heavy swing set laid on top of them and even worse I knew if he had to stop suddenly this could be a huge safety issue.

Long story short the guy just didn’t care. He was willing to take the risk and I knew I wasn’t liable if anything happened, so we proceeded to lift the swing set onto the seats, slide it forward and shut the rear doors. The front of the box was right between the two head rests of the front seat so at least if he had to slam on his brakes it would crush the dash and/or windshield rather than his skull, but I still thought it was a pretty stupid idea.

However, it was about that time that I turned around and noticed a woman with what appeared to be at least seven or eight kids standing there staring at us. Apparently this woman was his wife, and these were his kids. They were shopping alone which is why they weren’t around while we were loading this whole thing.

Now keep in mind this swing set rested on top of the seats so although a kid could lay on the seat or hunch over, there was no way possible to actually sit up straight in the middle of each row, and those who did sit up straight on the sides were risking head injury each time the van would turn a corner and the swing set would inevitably slide along the top of the seats (because it goes without saying the guy wasn’t interested in fastening this thing down).

As the woman opened the side doors, these kids proceeded to pile in the van one by one… each of them bending their heads in what would appear to be a very uncomfortable position in order to fit around and under the swing set.

Now if this guy was merely driving across town this might not be such an interesting story, but after seeing his contorted kids wedge themselves around the swing set I just had to ask where they were headed. The guy told me where he lived but I wasn’t aware of the town (and have long since forgot what it was called), but I do remember him saying it was about a two hour drive.

Not only was this guy going to be driving at highway speeds with a huge cardboard encased steel projectile capable of decapitation, but he was going to do so with his tribe of children wedged and squeezed around it just for good measure… for two hours.

Without so much as a shred of concern for the comfort or safety of his family, he pulled away as I stood there with mental images of a horrific traffic accident with random children impaled upon swing set parts and a rescue worker wondering who would ever be stupid enough to load a swing set on to the tops of the seats of a fully loaded passenger van.

Once again – people are stupid, and in this case I was probably an accessory to the stupidity.