The Faces of Stupidity

On a gray, chilly, wintry night, does leaving the house without a coat or other proper, warm attire guarantee a bout with the flu or worse? Not if you take care not to spend too much time out in the cold.

On an average day in the city, does leaving the house to run a few small, quick errands guarantee witnessing stupidity? Not if you wear a blindfold and/or earplugs. Otherwise, it is practically guaranteed.

Yesterday, I drove into a convenience store parking lot which overflowed with parked cars as well as vehicles coming and going. I suddenly had to stop…but not because of another car or person. Not exactly anyway. I witnessed a stuper (short for an indisputably stupid person) strolling around with the steadiness of one who had dynamite strapped to his torso, except he didn’t carry explosives. He carried an open book in one hand, which he read hypnotically, and in the other, held an apple, which he munched, while in the middle of the parking lot, completely unaware of the cars around him. Unawareness = stupidity.

Once in the store, I picked out what I needed and went to the cashier. The person behind the register was a smallish person, quiet and solemn. As I handed her my money, I asked if she could please give me change for one dollar. Not receiving an answer, I repeated my request.

“I said, YES!” she roared suddenly, exhaling hotly through her nose. The unexpected gust blew back my hair.

Have you ever noticed how silly people look when they lose their tempers? Well, that’s exactly how ridiculous we look when we lose control of our thoughts and minds.

One of the hardest things for authentic humans to do is react peaceably to a person who attacks them in word or deed. Anger grows if met with anger. If I’ve learned anything from the 178 self-help books I’ve read, I’ve at least learned that much. If anger is met calmly, it often ends more quickly, even with a stuper at the receiving end.

Inner me briefly desired to rip all the heads off the nearest Pez display just to demonstrate what I thought of her unprovoked outburst. But then my anger would render me stupid too.

I apologized for not hearing her the first time, and debated whether I should point out that not only was her first reply inaudible, but likely took place only within the confines of her head as I happened to be watching her for an answer. Taking a closer look at her stopped me. Her face sagged with unhappiness. Anger and happiness do not travel in the same circles. Clearly, her anger stemmed from within herself.

I smiled and waited for her to catch my eye. The line behind me grew, but I’m certain no one would have minded if they realized my good cause. A smile and anger don’t go together.

Finally, she caught my eye and a wan grin appeared. I thanked her and left.

Anger cramps the mind’s growth.



5 Responses to “The Faces of Stupidity”

  1. M.C. says:

    I admire your self-control. Most people would have gotten angry back when treated that way. But you’re right, anger is stupid and really solves very little, if anything.
    Reading a book and taking a stroll in the parking lot? Too bad you didn’t take a picture.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I try to remember: “Be nice to everybody because everybody is having a tough time.” I am sorry to say I don’t always succeed, but I do always try! Some days it’s much easier than others.

    And I’ve always maintained that some of the most dangerous places in the world are parking lots.

  3. dawn says:

    The Dalai Lama would be proud of you! You have excellent self control and an ability to look beyond the obvious. Most people do react to anger and don’t take time to think. Strangely enough I can exercise this self control with my daughter but when it comes to stangers… not so good. It’s a good lesson and one I need to practice. A lot.

  4. new diva says:

    What does one do when the stuper is a member of one’s own family, and the anger they throw at you not only makes you want to get angry but carries a tremendous amount of emotional baggage with it? I am trying to be calm, I truly am.

  5. Keli says:

    Thanks! If only I had my camera or just remembered to use the one on my cell phone! It would have been a priceless picture.
    Very good maxim to remember. At least you try, which is very commendable. If you’re having a tough time yourself, it’s more of a challenge.
    Thank you! I know what you mean – I use all my patience on my kids and sometimes there’s none left over for anyone else!
    new diva:
    When it’s a family member that you have (are forced) to see now and then, it’s quite difficult. Just do not allow them to control your emotions. Say as little as possible. In fact, take your mind to a better place whenever you’re in their presence, keep a smile on your face and exit as soon as you can. I admire the fact that you’re trying to be calm.
    Good luck!

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