Archive for November, 2007

Stupidity at the Hospital

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Hospital stays should be stupidity-free. And they usually are. I had two such stays (courtesy of childbirth) where caring, conscientious, authentic humans surrounded me. That is, except for the admitting nurse who, after I’d filled out the paperwork and left my employment status blank, nearly had a fit.

“Don’t you have a job?” she asked, none-too-kindly.

I hesitated before answering as I was on maternity leave and felt a bit limbo-like.

“You’re a housewife?” she spat out like she’d suddenly dislodged a stray corn kernel that had been stuck between her teeth for weeks.

Clearly her limited, mental receptacle somehow perceived an affront not only to the noble efforts of the nursing profession, but to the very core of all women who worked outside the home.

Back to hospital stays.

Two years ago, my then sixteen-year-old son was hospitalized for a nasty bout with the flu. He spent four days there; my husband and I switched off spending time with him as the hospital was some distance from our home.

No less than ten nurses came through Son’s room; sometimes solo, other times in pairs. Almost all staff members appeared genuinely dedicated and competent. Three were particularly memorable. One, not because he was the only male member and the cheery sort, but because he wore a novel cap with a dignified, yet highly optimistic gold tassel. The second memorable nurse was a young, very pleasant woman who caught our eyes because of her intelligence and her large, elongated glasses that came dangerously close to becoming goggles. However, I’m afraid to report the third was a stuper (short for an unnecessarily stupid person). Let’s call her Nurse Norma L. Bainbridge.

At four a.m., the morning of Son’s discharge, two nurses came by to give him medicine. Fortunately, Son is an excellent listener with a sharp memory. He recalled the Doc saying said medicine was to be dispensed for only three days. Unfortunately, Doc didn’t reduce this three day part to writing. The nurses eyed us solemnly when Son advised them of this fact. Then they left.

A few hours later, in stepped Nurse Bainbridge. I’m sure you’ve met her sort before. The no-nonsense type who not only works full-time (outside of the home for a respectable paycheck plus splendid benefits), but has four kids, bakes her own bread, churns her own butter, grows prize geraniums and still has time for pilates and basket weaving. Oh yes, she’s also PTA president.

“I heard somebody say they didn’t want to take their medicine this morning,” she said in a saccharine voice, hopelessly twee; the tone reserved for two-year-olds and the crack brained.

“We’d like to wait for the doctor,” I informed her.

She gave me a look that said I’d committed a gross gaffe, and that I’d practically snubbed her for not going to medical school and choosing nursing instead.

Nurse Bainbridge left in a huff and returned almost immediately with enough pages of forms to line every drawer in Martha Stewart’s kitchen. She told me I had to sign the paperwork to absolve her, the entire nursing staff and the hospital from any liability should Son have a relapse for refusing to take his a.m. medicine.

Thankfully, Doc arrived during our argument discussion and confirmed that the medicine was to be administered for only three days.

According to The Modern Handbook of How to be a Stuper, if one is holding an official looking piece of paper with instructions written on it, one must follow those instructions blindly. No matter if the instructions seem a bit off or if another questions their accuracy. Should these instructions appear in barely legible scrawl (thereby obviously the handiwork of a reputable physician), then all the more reason to blindly follow them.

Readers: Chances are you will be treated reasonably well should the need arise for a hospital stay. However, be certain to exercise awareness of your condition and the requisite treatment. Should you feel your mental faculties compromised, bring along an intelligent human to ensure stupers are kept at bay.

Think first, last and always!


Supercilious Stupidity

Monday, November 26th, 2007

It’s not a good idea to act like a dolt toward workers who are in your home to perform a service. Treating them well equals better service. Besides, they know where you live. Stupers (short, once again, for abysmally stupid persons) haven’t yet learned this.

I use an excellent handyman, Ed, who’s honest, dependable and handy to the tenth degree. A retired fire officer, Ed does his work cheerfully and efficiently.

One day, a sullen, agitated Ed, muttering maledictions under his breath, came over to fix a leaky faucet. As he reached beneath the sink, I asked if something was wrong. Ed didn’t look at me when I asked this. He fixed his gaze on a ten-inch pipe wrench resting on the counter. He glared at it is such a significant way, it was clear he wasn’t regarding it as a master tool for tightening any nuts or bolts. Violence was on his mind.

He finally broke his gaze and looked up at me. Then he poured out his story:

“I had a job at the Nolan’s place.”

(Note to my dear readers: Mr. Nolan is a thirty-seven-year-old TV actor; not exactly a first rate talent in my humble opinion, but one who didn’t abandon his hit medical series after everyone else did and so garnered a name for himself and a hefty salary).

“The only ones at home were Mrs. Nolan and a couple of maids. I was there to put together a crib. Mrs. Nolan was watching me work. She didn’t say a word. Then I asked her some questions, like where she wanted me to put the crib. She left the room. The next thing I know a maid comes in with the phone and hands it to me. Mrs. Nolan’s assistant from LA was on the other end; she said she’d answer my questions. She told me to put the crib next to the wall adjoining the bath. Then I asked if she wanted me to install the optional drawer on the side of the crib. The assistant placed me on hold and called Mrs. Nolan. This went back and forth for the next ten minutes. Mrs. Nolan wouldn’t talk to me! I had to talk to her assistant a hundred miles away while she sat in the next room. I could hear her talking on the phone to the assistant. Geeeez! Why couldn’t she just talk to me?”

The Nolans called on Ed again, but Ed did not return. He avoided their place the way the discerning bull avoids the china shop after that ruinous first time.

I live in a small town where word spreads like ants in the kitchen after a grain of sugar hits the floor. Ed is the number one handyman in these parts. A run-in with Ed means having to find a guy from a neighboring town, thirty miles away. And no one there is as handy as Ed. Stupidity does not realize this.

“Did Mrs. N look all puffed up to you?” I asked this because when I saw her grocery shopping the week before, she did appear a bit full of herself.

Ed scratched his head and replied, “Come to think of it, she did look kinda bloated.”

Mrs. Nolan’s self-importance and supercilious air came from her status of being married to a TV actor, who quite frankly, is not exactly a household name. I had him pointed out to me once in the local market by my sister who is a fanatic follower of anything even remotely celebrity related.

Self-importance thrills the meager mind making it feel…well, important, without reason. In reality, self-importance is dull, exceptionally dull. It creates a kind of void where gratitude and the ability to appreciate value in the work of others should be. It promotes the growth of stupidity even for those who may not have been stupers before. Without gratitude, happiness is fleeting and as hard to grasp as water.

Gratitude is the fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people.” ~ Samuel Johnson

I might add that you don’t find it among stupers either.



8 Little Known Facts or Stupidity Goes MIA

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

While I was busy pondering which case of stupidity I should next discuss, I was tagged by Mary at Motherwise to do a meme. Although I’ve looked up the definition of meme, had it explained to me with great care, and have even been quizzed on it using flash cards, I am still uncertain as to its exact meaning. What I do know is I’m going to reveal 8 little known facts about me:

1. I’m nearsighted and have been since the age of thirteen.

2. Although I’m exceedingly vain and don’t like to wear glasses, the mere thought of lasers, shiny tools, and suction rings (yes, I am a coward) conjures up visions of being strapped to a table and writhing under a blinding light while unseen voices whisper about me. Hence my myopic vision continues. I alternate between glasses, contacts and viewing the world through a lens that appears to have been coated in Vaseline. That’s good for people around me as physical flaws are nonexistent.

3. To make up for the physical flaws I can’t see, mental flaws are magnified.

4. I have an uncanny ability of killing off houseplants. I haven’t figured out whether it’s homicide or suicide as I have a knack of subjecting them to stressful situations.

5. I’m devoted to nursing plants back to health that I’ve almost killed. Here are pictures of one prime example:

6. I volunteer once a week at the local library, good girl that I am.

7. Although I fervently disavow big city life and its hordes of intellectually undernourished, counterfeit humans, I visit the city often. But I’m sure to make contemptuous remarks upon exiting.

8. I am a procrastinator. But I have a good reason for being one: I work best under pressure.

There you have it! Eight little known facts that probably should remain just that: little known. Thanks again to Mary for giving me a much needed day off stupidity! Whew! It can be exhausting. Now it’s my turn to tag bloggers to reveal 8 little known facts about themselves – Dawn at Twisted Sister, Agnes at HexMyEx and footiam at Beautiful World.

Keep thinking!


Stupidity and Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Ah holidays! When nearly forgotten, ever eccentric and quirky relatives leave their attics and tree trunks or wherever it is they reside, and provide ample entertainment during family gatherings. No, I don’t have an Uncle Albert who floats up to the ceiling every time he laughs or an Aunt Mabel who likes to wander into neighbors’ homes and pilfer their pantries. But I do have the mysterious case of the all-too-visible pooch that refused to disappear.

Thanksgiving in my family means that all five of my grandmother’s children, along with assorted grandchildren and great grandchildren, gather at her home to celebrate together. Personally, I believe in small, meaningful (as opposed to meaningless) crowds at holiday events. Anything beyond say, a dozen or so relations may provide a recipe for unrest and possible mayhem.

Grandma’s youngest son, Larry, lives 140 miles away. He visits Grandma several times a year bringing along his wife, Fran, twenty-three year-old daughter Melba and pooch, Henry. Henry is a miniature Pincher, whose price, we’ve all been advised on many an occasion, rivaled that of a small, slightly used, Korean automobile.

Henry is much loved by Fran and Melba. Whenever they visit, Henry perches on the coffee table or sofa, or prances about as far as his little paws will carry him, though Grandma would prefer he enjoy the great outdoors. No matter that Grandma is ninety, has asthma and keeps her own dog in the backyard when company is present; Henry’s place was among the other guests.

Larry’s last visit had been during a family and friends party of about fifty people. Visitors mostly lounged in the living room, family room and kitchen areas. This was a coincidence as Henry too mostly lingered in those rooms, on a leash. Unfortunately, his flexible, twenty-six foot leash created a booby trap of sorts, tripping a few elderly relatives who then slipped on the wet puddle next to Henry’s water bowl (in the family room) and almost fell headlong onto the kitchen counter.

After a few complaints about said leash, Melba decided to liberate Henry. He, in turn, chose to reward all by trotting away into Grandma’s master bedroom and doing his duty on the carpet beside her bed in the exact spot that Granny liked to place her foot upon climbing in and out of bed.

So come Thanksgiving, Grandma asked Larry to leave Henry at home. Larry objected, claiming Henry had no where to go.

Here is some background information regarding this last statement: Larry’s family kept a full-time, live-in maid; Fran had about two dozen relatives living within a fifteen-mile radius of their home, including her parents, assorted aunts and uncles, brothers, and several cousins.

Larry told Grandma that either Henry comes along for Thanksgiving or none of them would be there. Grandma felt disturbed, not quite knowing how to please everyone or anyone, for that matter.

Should Grandma have:

A. Had Thanksgiving outdoors that year so Henry could do his duty properly. Grandma could wrap herself up in heavy blankets so the late, chilly fall air would hopefully not affect her;
B. Explained to Larry about kennels, dog-sitters, and so on. Something she’d obviously failed to adequately handle during Larry’s childhood;
C. Told Larry and family “Happy Thanksgiving” via the telephone, fax or instant messaging; or
D. Allowed Henry free reign once again and placed plastic sheeting all over the flooring and furniture.

As it turned out, Larry and his family came, and left Henry at home with their housekeeper which, Fran informed Grandma, was where they typically left him when they were not at home. All this fuss over naught.

Larry needed to get his priorities straight. As the ending of this episode showed,
holiday arrangements for Henry were easily made. Larry could have made his mother
happy by merely exercising some thought and flexibility for that one evening. Yes, moms do take priority over pets. Most moms, anyway.

Holidays may bring along added stress from the excitement of organizing, socializing and/or traveling. Stress promotes stupidity as it prevents clarity of thought. Take note of what it did to Larry. It’s important to acknowledge this ahead of time and plan ways to alleviate or defuse potential sources of anxiety. Deep breaths and an equally deep sense of humor can work wonders to keep stress at bay.

Think first, last and always.


Behind the Counter Stupidity

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

I went to Macy’s department store yesterday to exchange a shirt for the same in a different size, receipt in hand. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Not when you’re being assisted by a stuper (short yet again, for an unblushingly stupid person).

There were three store clerks behind the counter in the men’s department to choose from:

  1. a petite, young man in his early twenties named Angel, who resembled a lost puppy that only just escaped the yard and longed to find his way back again;
  2. a tall, young man in his early thirties named Mike, who looked like he’d be most comfortable flat on his back, on a skateboard, working beneath a car; or
  3. a neatly dressed woman in her late fifties named Shelley, who looked like she could be running the department.

I picked Shelley not just because she appeared the most mature and capable, but also I liked the fact that she used a light, airy nickname for Michelle. I conjured up a friendly sort, slightly fun and vivacious. Her too neat and proper appearance plus her severe hair cut should have tipped me off.

I found the shirt I wanted in the correct size and paid Shelley a visit. I explained to her that I’d made the original purchase four days ago. Shelley scanned the item.

“Well, the price has gone up. It’s no longer on sale,” she informed me sternly. “You need to pay…(she paused to lean closer to and squint purposefully at the register)…$6.89.”

“Shouldn’t it be an even exchange?” I asked. “Did you look at the receipt?”

She gave me a look that could have lit a cigarette had one been dangling from my mouth.

“Just. Wait. One. Minute!” She snarled and turned her back to me. “Angel! This shirt is no longer on sale. And she expects to get the sale price anyway!”

Why do stupers speak so loudly? Never mind that Angel was touching distance away from her. I do not like to garner attention unless I’m the recipient of a major award accompanied by a large paycheck. And even then, I’d rather accept quietly and without fanfare. Ah, if only I’d chosen Angel.

He spoke softly to her (but my sharp ears caught his every word), “We want to keep the customers happy, so go ahead and make the exchange. Besides, she has the receipt.”

“Oh!” replied Shelley, as if these novel concepts never occurred to her. She grudgingly made the switch.

“I’d also like a price adjustment on three items. Dina, the manager, told me to come back this week with the receipt,” I said, knowing I had some nerve. Truly, Dina had told me that if I came back in a few days, there’d be an even better sale on three of the items I’d purchased. But Shelley was a veritable time bomb. She may not have had anything strapped on her back with remote in hand ready to detonate, but she was ticking all right.

Shelley turned her back to me and spoke to Angel in a voice clearly heard by patrons not only on all three floors (I was on the first), but at the Nordstrom’s a block away. “Can you believe it? Now she wants a price adjustment!!”

Before Angel could answer her, Shelley turned to me and said,

“Come back some time when Dina is here.”

Angel, the one who actually had a functioning head on his shoulders, told Shelley, “Just punch in the prices and use the sale code. That’ll make the adjustment.”

“Punch each one?” Shelley shouted. As she spoke to him, it appeared as though a fan had materialized in front of the helpful Angel and blew his carefully combed hair back, full force.

“Yes,” replied Angel, as he struggled to maintain his balance.

There were many things I wanted to say, but didn’t, as I realized they’d not be constructive. I also knew instinctively that if I didn’t stay quiet, I’d be delayed in getting what I wanted.

When Shelley completed her arduous task of punching in the code numbers of the items, talking out loud all the while, she fixed her gaze on me. I thought I saw the faintest trace of a grin.

“There! That wasn’t so bad! I even learned something new!”

Overcoming stupidity takes persistence as well as patience. And it’s important to know when to speak and when to keep your expletive filled thoughts to yourself. This episode of stupidity provided a needed reminder for me that stupidity comes in all ages and appearances.



Stupidity: Field Notes

Friday, November 16th, 2007

From my field notes – a small sampling of garden variety stupidity committed by stupers (short once again, for unabashedly stupid persons).

I donned a khaki colored blouse and pants (or trousers for my deeply appreciated UK readers), tucked my shoulder-length hair beneath a bucket hat of similar hue, perched myself atop a telephone pole (not really, but I would have, had I been able to shimmy up to the first rung or remembered to bring along a ladder) and pulled out my field binoculars. All of this took place behind an oversize newspaper with two small circular cutouts for eye holes.

Observed during one short course of study:

– Vehicles drove along a busy street without incident. One lane was available for each direction of traffic. Cars were parked alongside each lane. After eight minutes, sudden activity was viewed from a late model Ford parked on one side. The driver’s door had swung wide open and haphazardly rested a quarter of the way directly into a lane of traffic causing a bicyclist to swerve and nearly lose control. The cyclist successfully retook his place, then gestured obscenely with one hand in the driver’s direction without ever looking back.

An intellectually crippled driver sat in said Ford regarding a map, while his hands intermittently ripped a paper napkin into tiny pieces. A strong likelihood existed that this stuper was fretting over the possible meaning of the little squiggly lines running together on the map. Logic dictates that said driver would hear the whiz of cars driving by and close door; however, the stuper appeared unconstrained by logic.

Conclusion: Stupers do not comprehend the true meaning of their experiences.

People witnessing this occurrence expressed divided emotions about the open door.

“Such pristine idiocy makes me feel sad.” “So the guy likes to sit with his door wide open. Maybe his windows don’t work.” “He’s got slush for brains.” “What’s wrong with that?”

The brains of stupers are shrinking as rapidly as the major world glaciers, as noted by many a scientific study. Is global warming contributing to shrinkage of the human brain also? No. Is something other than non-use, mis-use, or infrequent use causing mind shrinkage? No.

I walked up to the stuper and asked him politely to close his door. He looked like a man without the sense to wear shoes in a snowstorm. Although he appeared stunned at my request, he said something multisyllabic and complied. I had explained to him that I’d heard of bulldozers driving that very road, unhinging many a wide open car door.

The only way to get a stuper to comply is to grab his fleeting attention and make him think you’re doing him a favor.

Think first, last and always!


Betting on Stupidity

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

My dear friend, Professor Bottomley, and I were enjoying a delightful lunch near the local university when we overheard this conversation between two students:

“Last night, I was like, it so feels like Tuesday!”

“Oh my God! It was Tuesday.”

Both stopped and looked at each other in wide-eyed wonder, mouths shaped into oversize Cheerios.

As they stood entranced by the spontaneous meeting of the meager minds, the good professor looked at me and moaned like a wounded cow. “That first one, Tiffany, has wandering lint for brains; she’s in my Biology 101. I’ll bet you Horton is smarter than those two put together. ”

Horton is the professor’s pet pig.

“I’ve taught Horton how to control the thermostat in his barn. Do you think Tiffany could do that? Do you think she knows what a thermostat is?” asked the Professor.

Humans rank first in animal intelligence, followed by primates, dolphins/whales, pigs and elephants. What about stupers (short for prodigiously stupid persons)? Where do they fall?

The Professor and I agreed that stupers did not surpass the top five smartest animals. What about the top ten?

I suddenly had a thought. The kind that just popped out of my head, fully formed, exactly like the time Greek God Zeus suffered a massive headache. After Hephaestus did Zeus the courtesy of splitting his skull in half for treatment, out popped Zeus’ daughter, Athena, in a complete set of armor and all grown-up. Isn’t that just like a teen?

“Can you test a squirrel’s intelligence?” I asked my friend.

“Stupers and squirrels each have a brain the size of a brussel sprout, so I suppose their intelligence is equal.”

I disagreed. Every winter a squirrel hides about 10,000 nuts. I’m not arguing that an average stuper cannot duplicate that feat. He/she probably can. But the squirrel hides each nut in a different place Then, using spatial memory, relocates each one. I’m not even sure I can master that accomplishment without outside help.

“I’ll bet you a squirrel is smarter than a stuper.”

“Tiffany could use some extra credit points,” noted the good Professor.

We designed a simple experiment where an average ground squirrel would be trained to follow a specific route, which included ladders, to find a scrumptious nut awaiting it at the end. All the squirrel would have to do is figure out the route. As for Tiffany, she’d leave her car in a large parking structure, go shopping for a few hours, then attempt to relocate her vehicle.

Both passed. Tiffany had a little more trouble than her furry competition as she marked the position of her car based on the colors of the autos parked next to her. Unfortunately for her, both adjacent vehicles had left upon her return. But since it wasn’t a timed experiment, an exhausted Tiffany eventually found her car.

In the second stage of our experiment, Professor Bottomley altered the squirrel’s maze, leaving the nut in the same place, but adding additional ladders providing alternative routes. The squirrel went straight to the nut. Amazing!

Instead of unleashing Tiffany in an actual parking lot, we created a safer environment. A computer provided a virtual image of a structure. We had her park an assigned car, then leave for a few minutes while we added alternative routes and changed the look of the structure. We kept the auto in the same place.

Alas, Tiffany didn’t fare too well. The good professor comforted the poor girl by giving her the extra credit points anyway (for good effort).

I’m afraid this was not a fair test. The professor and I cheated. You see, a squirrel’s brain grows 15% larger in the autumn (when keen memory is imperative in storing and locating nuts). Human brains stop growing once we’ve reached the ripe old age of sixteen. For the stuper, it actually shrinks from non-use.

Just think!


Snap, Crackle, Pop Stupidity

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Do you remember the cute and very merry Rice Krispies commercials starring:

Snap, Crackle and Pop? The ever so endearing, soft, sizzling sound of cereal & milk sweetly commingling represented the medley of happy food talking, if only it could; delighting children of all ages.

Unfortunately, a similar sound is let loose daily. It has nothing to do with imaginary gnomes or grains of rice cereal merging with milk. This dreadful snap is obnoxious, nose wrinkling and displeasing to the ears. It can turn even the most tranquil among us into moaning malcontents. It’s the handiwork of stupers (short for insatiably stupid persons).

My mother and I were shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue. The store near us is boutique sized and sports glossy marble floors. The kind where the slightest sound is amplified.

A sale was going on. I left Mom in one department while I made a phone call. Mom is usually quite mellow and good-natured.

Upon my return, I found her incensed, breathing rapidly and scowling in aggravation. As you may’ve guessed, she’d encountered a stuper. Not just a standard irritating stuper, but the gum-chewing variety.

“I was browsing the sale rack when suddenly I’m elbowed by this… person who insists on looking in the exact same spot in the rack as me even though there are about 5000 other clothes to look at. And to top it off, she is chewing and snapping her gum so loudly, I’m surprised I can still hear. I just wanted to shake her!”

I could see a steady stream of homicidal thoughts flowing through her mind. Allowing stupers to chew gum in Saks is like permitting pre-schoolers to tour the place while dragging along tiny feet tucked in Mama’s six-inch heels. Tripping and tapping all over the place. It should be banned.

I decided to investigate. I searched for the offender. Snapping and smacking sounds, not unlike those pouring forth from a malfunctioning cap gun, emanated from the lingerie department. Several annoyed shoppers rapidly fled the scene. I knew I’d found my stuper.

She was a hearty chomper, in her sixties, nicely dressed and attractive. Her appearance belied the stupidity that lay beneath.

The smell of stale spearmint wafted through the room. While I stood next to her, there was silence for three seconds. Then suddenly she emitted a cacophony of smacking and popping culminated by a bubble the size of an infant’s fist. A mad crescendo of bubble bursting followed. “SNAP! SNAP! POP!” Like a pair of hands clapping next to my ear. There must have been four wads stuffed in her trap.

Are public floggings still available? I read that in Saudi Arabia, 200 lashes were given in 2005 to “men behaving like women.” What about the same for those who smack and pop chewing gum in confined spaces where members of the public are present and royally annoyed? If cigarette smoking indoors, in public places, is banned in California, then so should gum smacking. Upon entering the mouth, chewing gum should neither be seen or heard again (barring an emergency situation).

I stared at this stuper to see if any shred of awareness of her vile habit existed. She stared back, seemingly chewing her cud all the while. The display was so hideous, I’m certain backwoods people would not engage in such snapping even if they had teeth.

It wanted to say, “Cut the crap,” then slip on a surgical glove (which I carry in my purse for stuper moments like this), pry open her mouth and yank out the glob, but I was a bit frightened of what else I’d find in there.

Is it possible that some meager minds estimate their value by the amount of irritation they cause to greater minds? I will have to ponder this matter further.

Should you be forced to occupy the same time and space as a smacking, snapping, popping stuper, find an exit immediately. Or offer them a piece of hard candy. Sucking sounds might be more tolerable. Or print out the picture below and use it as a sign. Meanwhile, I’ll start a petition to bring back flogging.

No creature smarts so little as a fool. ~Alexander Pope

Keep thinking!


Hidden Stupidity

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

Stupidity is often obvious, like the malodorous scent of a skunk. Other times, it’s subtle, mild, undefined and slips in unexpectedly from typically trusty sources, such as parents, dear friends, mentors, teachers, beauticians or mail carriers. In my case, all conspired to change the course I’d chosen for myself.

Just prior to graduating law school, I was exceedingly fortunate in obtaining an almost perfect job. I loved my extraordinary boss. She hired me despite my being an average student from an average school whose talent, if it existed, was completely hidden to the naked eye.

I worked my way from an intern to a law clerk to a lawyer for a company that represented the movie/TV studios in labor negotiations. There was just one problem. I detested labor law like I detested finding a stray hair dangling from my mouth after an innocent bite of salad. My boss generously allowed me to continue to work for her while I hunted down the right job.

I desired a spot as business affairs counsel for a studio. My attainment of this position seemed as likely as my growing a beanstalk, climbing up and sharing a mug of hot chocolate with Jack’s giant. To succeed in my endeavor, I needed either: an ivy league degree, gilt-edged law firm experience, inside knowledge of the secret fetish of an important movie executive (not yet known by the rags), adoption by a Brangelina type couple or willingness to engage in unmentionable activities (as this is a PG-13 rated blog).

Not one to stand still, I opted to take virtually every business affairs attorney in town to lunch in an attempt to display my sparkling personality and to convince them that I was the chosen one. I ended up with empty pockets.

I did manage to nab several interviews, however. Even second and third interviews where I was certain the job was in the bag. Unfortunately, none panned out. My last one was particularly irksome in that I forgot how to speak English for a few brief moments while meeting with the head guy, a name brand producer.

“Nice to meese you,” I said charmingly after we were introduced.

Needless to say, I wasn’t even asked to sit down.

I’d made little headway. Soon after, almost everyone I knew advised me to seek work in another field of law. Business affairs jobs were hard to come by. And one needed plenty of solid experience. Where the hell is experience supposed to come from if no one is willing to give you a chance?

My boss suggested I go where all other newly minted attorneys go when first seeking employment: the government. Specifically, the District Attorney’s office. Even my dearest mom seconded that motion reminding me of the splendid benefits as did my friends, former professors and the beautician, even though she said the head D.A. was a terrible tipper. The postal carrier, tired of seeing me perched atop the mailbox, day after day, awaiting a positive response to the countless resumes I’d sent out said,

“Why do you do this to yourself? You like being rejected?”

Damn right I didn’t. But my sights were fixed. I didn’t want to work anywhere else. Picture an incredible craving for an ice cream sundae and settling instead for cold mashed potatoes. I didn’t want to stop trying. Yet every seemingly authentic human I knew advised otherwise.

I caved in and nabbed an interview at the D.A.’s office. I’ve relived that experience twice; once alive and in person, and the second time, in great detail in my book. I can’t bear to do it again here, not even for my cherished readers; so in summary, we mutually agreed the position wasn’t for me. And yes, a heavy, dust-laden legal treatise accidentally landed on the assistant D.A.’s foot with a fairly strong downward force, mid interview. I left knowing I’d not be back.

Despite the rumblings from all that chances of getting the job I wanted were slim, I finally found my perfect position just a few months later. Success had been lingering just around the corner despite appearances to the contrary.

I wonder how many of our dreams, large or small, are dashed or sidetracked, due to well meaning advice? I often hear complaints from readers who encounter stupidity in the form of unsolicited suggestions that go against the grain of their desires.

“It’s not going to happen.” “What’s the use?” “You can’t do it.” “That’s stupid.”

Beware of anyone who calls your desires”stupid.” You know what they’re really saying: “I’m stupid.”

Ultimately, the voice you must listen to is your own. Life is filled with good intentions. And you know where that road can lead.

Think for yourself or someone else will do your thinking for you.


Postal Stupidity

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Waiting in line at my post office is a little like playing Russian roulette. I’ll either be assisted by:

– the kindly, sympathetic and somewhat gangly younger gent behind the counter;

– the cantankerous manifestation of a female who appears to have lost both her sanity and smile eons ago; or

– the small, wizened, elf-like, elder postal worker who perpetually stands like the ground beneath him is trembling. He, in particular, seems to have a wide open space between his ears.

The window belonging to the womanly (I do use that term loosely) worker is littered with large Post-its detailing warnings: “No mailing letters or envelopes containing weapons.” “Baton Rouge is not in France.” “Have proper change ready.” On this last one, I’m afraid I approached her once with one dollar when my stamps cost ninety-two cents. I did not receive my change.

I once overheard a young man ask her about the cost of a forty-one cent stamp. She agreed to assist him only if she could place a piece of metallic duct tape over his mouth. He had to write down his requests on a Post-it, and she ripped up any she deemed unfitting or irrelevant. I believe I saw the barest ghost of a grin on her face that time.

As I stood in prayer for assistance from the younger gent, the elder’s window opened first. On this particular day, he seemed to suffer from spasms in addition to his tremors. A bowl of Jell-O on wheels could not have shaken more.

I explained to him that I’d been away for a few days and my post office box was empty. I expected some mail from the bar association. Had he received any letters addressed to Keli Garson?

“Hmmmm no,” he replied. “But we did git some for Keli Garson Esquire. You Miss Esquire?”

I sighed deeply, but with great patience and informed him that I was. His good eye regarded me suspiciously, but he went to get my mail. He took so long I became concerned that the tremulous ground beneath him had opened and swallowed him whole, and that he was now in the very midst of sliding down to China. Just as I was about to call for help, he returned with my letters.


A week later at home, I persistently received mail belonging to my next door neighbor and none of my own. After three days of this, I guessed that my usually efficient mail carrier, Mary, was on vacation. I lay in wait for her replacement.

To my surprise, not only did my mail arrive after five p.m., but also, the carrier was none other than the elder from the Post Office. I live in a small town where many hats are sometimes worn by the same hollow head. I explained to him about my mail.

“I think there’s been an address mix-up in this neighborhood.”

He nodded and smiled crookedly. “Well, sounds like a good way to git to know yer neighbors, don’t it?”

After he finished wheezing from the solitary fit of laughter brought on by what he regarded as a timeless joke, he proceeded to collect the mail and redeliver it. It finally arrived at about eight p.m.

It’s too easy to stress about stupers (short again for intolerably stupid persons) and their moronic ways. Do not allow a stuper to act as a trigger of annoyance or frustration. The best way to deal with random acts of stupidity is to find the amusement in them. View life as a sitcom with you as the star. Your reward comes when you maintain your sanity.

Just think!