“Stupid” is an over and misused word. All too often we throw the word ‘stupid’ around when we actually mean things like ‘oblivious’, ‘lacking in common sense’,’or lacking in manners or propriety’. The word ‘stupid’ can even mean funny and silly in a complimentary manner today in an inner-city vernacular. I had to check in with my friend Miriam Webster to see what the most basic definition of this word is.
Ah, here we are. “Not intelligent” “Not sensible or logical”. So, for simplicity’s sake and the exact circumstances of this piece let’s stick with Mimsy Webster’s definition of stupid.
The other night I was coming home from work, and had decided to duck into my local burger and chicken joint for some health food. I was feeling tired, lazy and not up for cooking. I entered Chicken Lickin’ and placed my order. Next to me at the counter was a middle aged woman trying to decide what she wanted. While I was waiting for my order to be prepared I heard this woman ask what was quite possibly the stupidest question ever. Who ever said “There are no stupid questions” had obviously never encountered this woman. She asked ( and I’m not making this up ) “How many come in the 10 piece?” She-asked-how many-come-in-a-10-piece. I shook my head to clear it and then looked more closely at this woman. She had somehow managed to put her shoes on the correct feet. Maybe someone helped her get dressed.
Now, we all say the occasional stupid thing. We all speak without thinking. Luckily I only seem to do this when trying to impress women, or during important job interviews. So, in fairness, maybe the “How many come in a 10 piece” inquiry was a fluke.
Nope. Her next statements and actions confirmed that she was a member of the room temp IQ club. She asked the nice (and patient) man behind the counter how much the 10 piece was. Oh, and in case you’re wondering; Yes the nice (and patient) man behind the counter answered her previous inquiry (“Um, 10. 10…pieces”). He managed to answer without slapping his forehead or making any sarcastic remarks. I was impressed. To be even more helpful, the counterman pointed up to the huge, illuminated menu and price list above him and less than 6 feet from this woman’s eyes. It should also be noted that every chain restaurant, pizzeria etc has this huge, menu and price list in their establishment…and yet we never seem to be at a loss for inane questions from those who don’t want to or possibly can’t read. Since the chances of her being illiterate were fair, he also vocalized the answer. “$6.99″. She slowly looked up at the menu, her mouth agape and said “Oh…you ummm have all the prices up there.” The man behind the counter nodded that, yes-indeedy all goods and their prices were right in front of the widescreen dimensions of her forehead. However, she had to double down on stupid. Not more than 2 seconds after her verbal confirmation that the prices were listed, she asked “So, how much is a 20 piece?”
I grabbed my food and bid a hasty retreat from the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Chicken” Palace.
Unlike my fellow chicken consumer, I found my mind racing. How does a person so stupid survive in the world? How does she get dressed, cross the street, pay her bills or hold down a job, if, she was indeed employed? Who had taught her to speak…and perhaps more importantly, how? Was it a scene like something out of “The Miracle Worker” where Helen Keller finally makes a breakthrough and mental connection with water. Did some wonderful teacher with the patience of a saint have some kind of breakthrough with this women where she began shrieking “TEN PIECE…TENNN PIECE” and embracing the saintly teacher?
Although I don’t make these type of determinations, it seems to me that if she is genuinely this slow then she should probably be eligible for some kind of public assistance or disability. Is there some kind of doctors note that can be taken to a public assistance office ( or perhaps safety-pinned to the person in question ) that states their IQ is too low to telemarket or any other kind of employment? Back in my Western Massachusetts hometown the local supermarkets hire the mentally retarded (or cerebrally challenged, or whatever feel-good euphemistic phrase is en vogue) to bag groceries and retrieve shopping carts. I have mentioned it several times because frankly, I have always been in awe of their work ethic and their attitudes while doing their job. They have become my go-to example in regards to the chronically stupid or lazy. Hell, they have a better attitude than I do when it comes to work and dealing with the general public. Interesting to note that my job is to deal with the general public.
I seriously doubt this woman could get a job much less hold on to one. She might fill out an application in finger paint or crayon. Anything requiring a degree or certification is out. Maybe she could move boxes from Point A to Point B, but she’d need regular supervision or she’d get lost, or forget to put the boxes down. People are fond of saying “Go work at McDonald’s” or they make fast food references to denote an overall lack of skills, drive and intelligence. Yes, it would be a lovely poetic irony if this woman were to work in a chicken or rib joint…but let’s be real here for a moment. How long would it take her to reach into the hot oil to grab a wing? I’m sure the DMV might take her if they had an executive position open. Then there is always congress or the senate. But, she might be over-qualified.
It’s sad and scary that so many people don’t want to or simply wont think. It seems to me with regard to people who can‘t think are at least giving it the old (community) college try.
Furthermore, rather than allowing for natural selection to smarten up the species; we as human beings spend time and money to cater to these people, when really the most natural and perhaps merciful thing to do would be to leave them behind to smarten up or die.
It never ceases to amaze me the many different attitudes that people have regarding nature, having a humane mind set in regards to animals and other people. If someone was watching a nature program on Discovery, PBS, Animal Planet or any other educational show, and there was an animal who got killed and eaten because it was incredibly stupid, we wouldn’t bat an eye. If we were watching with a small child, and said child got upset because the cute little antelope or baby hippo got killed and eaten by the hyenas, lions or some other predator, we’d stop and explain the natural process to the child. “I know honey, it is sad that the cute little deer got killed and eaten…but you see, that deer in particular kept walking into a tree over and over again while trying to go to the river for a drink of water, rather than going around the tree…well that’s nature sweety. That’s how nature or God gets rid of the weak and the stupid, so there is enough food and water for everyone else.”
Years ago, the TV show ‘Seinfeld’ made a famous episode called “The Soup Nazi” which was based on Al Yeganeh’s restaurant “The Soup Kitchen” here in NYC. The episode was a big hit and a cult classic which coined the phrase “No soup for you!!” Jerry Seinfeld, writer-producer Larry David, and David’s former next door neighbor ; Kenny Kramer all experienced Al Yeganeh’s unique manner of dealing with customers who routinely lined up for his delicious soups and chili. Mr. Al would simply expedite the out- the- door- and- around -the- corner lines of people who had come for his soup. If you didn’t know what you wanted, or hadn’t figured it out by reading (gasp) the huge menu overhead while in line, Al would tell you to step aside. If you asked questions that could have been answered by reading the clearly printed and centrally posted menu, he’d frown and point. I never went to the Soup Man “back in the day” as it wasn’t in my neighborhood, and the Seinfeld episode apparently made the place a tourist trap nightmare. It even caused Al to close, sell his name and image to another company, and reopen under a different name years later. I remember there was an article about how he (Al) was upset that Seinfeld and the show had ruined his life and business. Many people had the knee-jerk reaction that Seinfeld and the show had helped him in terms of popularity…but I suspect this isn’t what the soup man had in mind. He was already doing a booming business prior to the episode, and hadn’t been branded a “Nazi” except, perhaps by some customers who don’t like to be told to step aside. My friend Herbie used to go to his place for lunch all the time. “Was he really a Nazi?” I once asked Herbie. “No” Herbie exclaimed rather passionately. “He was right. Who wants to wait in line behind someone who can’t be bothered to read the menu? He just kept the line moving and told people to step aside if they didn’t know what they want”.
This raises an interesting issue. Should it be socially acceptable to be dismissive of those who aren’t paying attention. As it stands now in society, we cannot. That person who has been standing in front of you at Starbucks, blabbing away on their cell phone until finally it’s their turn to order…socially speaking they can hem and haw for 10 or 20 minutes and think about what they want. Yet, it’s painfully obvious to me that they are in the wrong here. They damn well should have made up their mind while waiting in line, and then taken care of their cell phone addiction. Now, some people are considerate. They know they don’t know what they want and let others go ahead of them. It’s the right thing to do. I’d venture to say that most people, if on their cell phone, or who simply don’t know what they want, and the counter person bypassed them to attend to the person behind them who is ready to order, pay, pick up and move along…then that person would get angry with the staff member and think they were being rude. I have even experienced this first hand, so I know of what I speak. I’ve worked many a busy weekend night at a bar or restaurant where it’s 3 deep at the bar. You ask “Can I help you?” The person stands directly in front of the taps and asks what you have on draft. Or they simply don’t know what they want…OR the crème- de la crème of busy bar douchebaggery …they wait for the bartender or server to ask how they can help them, only to turn to 5-20 friends scattered throughout the establishment and ask them what they want. This is when they decided to have a little pow wow.
“You guys want shots?”
“What kinda shots?”
“I just wanna glass a wine.”
“What kinda wine?
“Are we getting shots?”
And so on and so on… The person conducting this impromptu survey will become angry if the bartender attempts to serve someone else who has been waiting patiently, has their money out and just wants a bottle of beer.
It also dawns on me that people who go into a McDonald’s, chicken shack, Starbucks or what have you, should have a basic idea of what they want to begin with. You don’t go into a Starbucks hoping they might finally have fish tacos do you?
I understand that people don’t like to be told what to do, or to be told that they’re in the way or holding things up. But sometimes it’s necessary. When I have visited London, my friend Ruprecht had to tell me a couple time to step aside on subway escalators so others could get by me if they wanted or needed to. I think he even pulled me to one side once or twice. I didn’t like it, but it GOT it. I understood.
I suppose the 10 piece queen does provide a small service. She makes others feel more secure in their intelligence. So, she’s got that going for her . . . which is nice.