Archive for June, 2008

Stupidity on the Corner and in the Street

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

I love visiting Santa Barbara, California. It’s lovely and wild and grand and seedy and elegant; a patchwork quilt made of satin, silk, velvet and potato sack squares. Which means fistfuls of stupidity exist here and there.

In particular, there’s a stretch, more accurately, a half-block portion, embedded between bustling downtown and the sandy beach that reeks of stupers (short, yet again, for those woefully inadequate stupid persons). It was there that I witnessed a meager minded mother behind a stroller, waiting at the intersection corner. Sounds innocuous, except that the front of the stroller, carrying a round-faced cherub, sat at a downward slope, firmly planted in the street, daring passing traffic to play a rollicking game of tag while Mom stood impatiently, but safely on the sidewalk. It’s not pretty to watch frozen thought processes that likely wouldn’t even respond to jump-starting. Which reminds me, this same parent dressed warmly in sweater and knitted cap, as it was a little cool at the resort-like, yet positively popular, bohemian beach city. Baby’s bare feet dangled while the practically hairless and uncovered little head bobbed in the gentle ocean breeze. The good news was that both made it across the street. The bad news is that I next witnessed something like this:

Take note that this daredevil parent is not in any crosswalk and is maneuvering herself and her child across four lanes. Shouldn’t there be helmets? Air bags? Safety belts, a seeing-eye-dog or a police escort for this type of travel?

Finally, as I drove my merry way past this same half block yesterday, I was abruptly made to stop. No, my brakes didn’t malfunction nor did a stray couch land with a thump in front of my car. As I rounded the corner I saw a small, skinny stuper, standing in the middle of the lane. My lane.

No attempt was made to dart out of the way. In fact, my car didn’t even startle him into budging. I stopped in front of him, so close I could see the whites of his eyes and the Scooby Doo tattoo on his forearm.

I also noticed from his unmoved, cavalier expression that he was held securely in the very palm of stupidity. He moved a few steps closer to the sidewalk, but still resided in the lane. Was he playing chicken? Or was he trying to discover whether his membrane was so permeable that I could pass right through him? My mind went into spin cycle mode, trying to understand.

I gave him Look #2 (reserved for monumental cases of stupidity when nothing else seems to work). The kind of look that could shrivel an onion and curl the toes on a crow. He moved. I drove on. I looked back in my rear view mirror, and he was at it again.

Thinking is fast becoming a lost art. Imagine the price it’ll fetch for those who actually use their minds.