Archive for January, 2010

Juggling Stupidity on the Telephone

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Yesterday, I had enormous fun juggling the management of two county-wide organizations, by myself, and handling the stupers (short for irrepressibly stupid persons) who persisted in calling. The desks of both associations face each other in one office, so I raced back and forth constantly. I nearly pole vaulted, using my umbrella, over each desk in order to answer the respective phones. Then I catapulted over the visitors’ chairs to unlatch the front door for the UPS man, while I was still on the phone. Being hyper energetic by nature, the sweat pants and sneakers only enhanced my mobility. The true challenge arose when the phones rang simultaneously. But that is fodder for a different post.

The callers are what really made my day. They generally seek legal information; I’m afraid it’s the issues they’re experiencing that cause me to stop and ponder: Where is the human race headed? Shouldn’t stupidity have been mostly eradicated by now?  I present Exhibit A: “Chuck” who stated,

“I need legal advice. I have a terminal illness…”

Immediately, I sank to the floor to accentuate the deep compassion I felt as well as my exhaustion from pole-vaulting, until he explained,

“I’ve had it since 1992…”

Is that possible? Forgive me if I sound idiotic, but doesn’t “terminal” mean approaching death? I mean, I’m grateful that he’d made it this long, but I had trouble with his word usage. It turned out he wanted to sue a drug company for medication he thought was not working. He’d lasted almost twenty years while taking the meds, so I didn’t follow his plight. Thankfully, he and the drug company were located in a different jurisdiction so I referred him elsewhere.

Next, came Luther. I like the name Luther. It reminds me both of Luther Burbank, the famous California botanist who sweet-talked his thorny cactus plants into losing their thorns, thereby creating the spineless cactus. It’s true. My guru said so (more on my guru in an upcoming post). Wikipedia confirms this phenomenon.

Luther also reminds me of Lex Luthor, the supervillain in comic books and Superman’s archenemy. Lex allegedly lost his hair in a laboratory accident, and well, the rest, as they say, is history. I know how I feel when I have a bad hair day. I can only surmise what would happen if I lost my hair while conducting one of my stuper lab experiments.

Anyway, my caller, Luther, complained to me that he was being tortured and has continued being tortured for some time. I asked for the name of his tormentor.

“Oh, it’s not a person.”

I patiently waited, while I heard the other line ringing. I casually inquired, “Is it the po-po?” (This is the part where I begin to slightly suffer an imbalance in my mind; when this occurs, my speech is the first to go).


While he paused, I picked up the other line, only to find the caller had hung up. I breathed a thirty second long sigh of relief. I forgot about Luther until I heard a voice on the speakerphone say (I had to place him on speaker to answer the other call; my umbrella was not handy):

“It’s the Internet. I’m being tortured by the Internet.”

So here’s where I draw the line. I can’t even go into the reasons why as I am currently in relax mode, but I feel confident my dear readers know what I’m talking about. I convinced Luther that this was a matter for Homeland Security and got off the phone.


Please think.


Stupidity, the Bank and Tap Dancing

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Periodically, I engage in a song & dance routine. I get out my black, patent leather shoes, pink bow tie and glittery cane. I’ve performed this little tap number at four branches of a local bank in order to obtain necessary paperwork for a loan.

My husband occasionally buys and sells real estate. Hence, the need for loans. To borrow money from a lender, we must prove that we don’t really need the money.

My energetic little jig is usually followed by polite, staccato applause from my small, subdued audience; afterward, I am handed the requested piece of paper to show the lender. I typically begin my journey to the exit, but rarely make it out the double glass doors. Along the way, I notice that the paper, which summarizes the balance of my accounts, provides no evidence whatsoever that it originated from a bank. I could have typed it up myself.

“Where the hell does it say which freaking bank this is from?” is what I’d love to shout (years of maintaining an angelic demeanor for the sake of the kids has taken its toll on me). Instead I say,

“Would you kindly open a drawer and locate the super impressive, official-looking stamp that says ‘Los Pueblos Bank’ and illuminate this little sheet?”

So begins a mad dash from drawer to drawer by the employee in search of the elusive stamp. This occurs each and every time and can last anywhere from four to twelve minutes, depending on the I.Q. of the person assisting me. (That was mean. I’m sorry. I.Q. has no bearing whatsoever on stupidity. Highly educated people can be impossibly stupid).

Yesterday, Husband and I entered the branch closest to our home to add his name to an account that I have with my mother. Doesn’t that sound delightfully simple? Nancy assisted us. We obtained proper signatures and left to get my mother’s signature. We did so. Husband returned the signature card to the bank (I didn’t have my tap shoes on me). It was his turn to secure the little piece of paper.

Here’s what happened:

When Husband entered the bank, Nancy was nowhere to be found. He overheard some one say, “She’s in the lunch room, doing her nails.” Husband was advised that no other person, out of the 15 employees present, could add the signature and print out the paper he required. He asked to see the manager.

Unbeknown to Husband, the manager had declared Tuesdays to be “Don’t-help-customers-no-matter-what-day.”

When he asked how long Nancy would be, Manager replied, “Ten minutes.”

Husband said, “No problem. I’ll wait. I really need to deliver this paperwork to the lender today.” Husband showed Manager a sample copy of what he needed.

Manager carefully scrutinized it, then announced, “That’s a cute little paper, but you’re not getting anything today. It’s going to take at least twenty-four hours to update the account.”

Husband, realizing them’s fightin’ words, said, “Are you sure? I’ve done this before and it’s instant.”

She restated, “It can’t be done.”

Husband left. He filled up the gas tank, stopped to get coffee, then drove five miles to the next branch of the same bank. This time he met a very smart teller who printed what he needed in less than ten seconds. Unfortunately, it took another four minutes to find the infamous official bank stamp.

Why? Why must we jump through hoops and perform astonishing feats of ability in order to survive an encounter with stupidity? Well, first of all, so I can run this blog. Secondly, to sharpen our minds. Those who can think and do, can always beat ten men who can’t and don’t (to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw). Don’t you feel a sense of accomplishment when you’ve resolved a problem or completed a task, no matter how large or small? Stupers (short for abysmally stupid persons) don’t know what that satisfaction feels like. And never will.

Choose to think.


Stupidity, UCLA, Seniors and Looking Upward

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

I love my Alma mater. It wasn’t always this way. It was touch and go over the past twenty-five, almost twenty, several years or so, but it’s been good between us ever since last Spring quarter when I accompanied Son #2 on his campus tour.

It wasn’t the tour that did the trick; it was what occurred afterward, but the tour was the catalyst. During the walk around north campus, I again discovered what I periodically suspect: I often, sometimes, once in a great while, behave like a stuper (short, as you all well know by now, for an embarrassingly stupid person).

 Our capable tour guide strolled us around the tree-lined walkways, paused in front of the inverted fountain where she genially relayed its history and use (dunking the heads of captured USC opponents usually in retribution for their attempts to defile the statue of the Bruin Bear). Meanwhile, I fondly gazed over at parking lot 2 and reminisced. Just how many parking tickets did I manage to gather from that one lot alone? 145? Or was it 245?

Humanities BuildingWe sauntered through the sculpture garden (I could have sworn it was located on the other side of the campus during my day), and finally stopped at the steps of the Music building. I took that opportunity to look up at an adjacent structure, and suddenly realized that I may have attended an entirely different campus or one perhaps located in a parallel universe. At the very top of the Humanities Building, facing the center of the campus, were etched these words by brilliant English physicist and chemist, Michael Faraday:

Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature.

I could not believe I’d walked back and forth past the Humanities Building for four years, several times per day and never once bothered to look up to read that quote. Consequently, I yanked Son #2 away from the rest of the group and bid him look upward.  He read the quote, and then regarded me with  annoyance, a monumental dose of tolerance, as if he now knew for certain I’d lost all my faculties, great respect and said,

“That’s pretty good.”

“Forget about its profundity or philosophical implications. Can you believe I went to school here for four whole years and never once looked up?”

I spent the rest of the tour, chin pointing to the sky, staring upward. My son kept his distance.  But on the upside, I believe, I lost any appearance or hint of wrinkles that may have been creeping up on my neck. This spontaneous,  non-artificial, fast-acting, reverse aging process is what could have led to the incident that drove me to march into the UCLA Alumni Center a short time later.

As Son #2 and I ended our tour and walked to Parking Lot 8, we passed by several tables set up along the way helmed by students. Several of these intelligent students stopped me and asked if I’d like to wear the button they were offering.

“No, thank you,” I replied over and over again, never taking the time to read what the button said. Finally, just before we reached the Lot, I was asked again if I’d like to wear a button. I looked at one. It read,

Kiss Me, I’m a Senior

“You want me to wear this because…,” I started.

“Are you graduating this year?”

This is when my love affair with UCLA started. Granted, I was wearing dark shades. But in my short time there that day, I’d evidently shaved decades, a few years off my age. I looked at my son, who grinned widely. It took all my self-control not to tearfully embrace each student who offered me a button. Instead, I wound my way to the Alumni Center and joined. Money was no object.

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL Since this incident, I make it a point to always look upward. Ah, the sights I’ve seen. Wondrous birds I never knew existed. Marvelous, heavenly cloud formations. And the best part: no wrinkles or stupers .

Just think.


Stupidity and Out-of-Control Tourists

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

 My farmer’s market is held in a neighboring small town that tourists and stupers (short for fretfully stupid persons) flock to throughout the year. I was once a tourist there myself, before realizing my dream of relocating. It’s a lovely, country-like atmosphere where idiots are scarce, and kindness and patience are plentiful. This is why when a moronically oblivious tourist-stuper holds up all traffic during the busy farmer’s market just to stand in the middle of the street for fifteen minutes to take the perfect snapshot of a windmill, nobody honks.

Yet, as we all know, this is not acceptable.

So while waiting at a stop sign for an idiot pedestrian in the crosswalk after my farmer’s market excursion, I decided to put my horn to good use. It had been so long, I barely remembered its sweet sound.

Despite the long line of cars waiting for the ped to cross to the other side, this Darwinian nightmare actually stopped several times along the way to get in some really epic licks of his ice cream cone before completing his forty foot crosswalk journey.

So, being first in line, I honked. Then honked again. And again. Why the encore? Because my honking failed to impact the walker/ ice cream cone licker. Was I by chance rudely picking on an innocent and possibly helpless deaf person? I don’t think so.  After the first honk, he casually turned his head my way, while wiping his mouth on his sleeve.

I believe usage of the horn has an entirely different impact on persons from third world countries and Texas. In those places, it’s used quite often under these circumstances:

1. When something/someone blocks the road.
2. When something/someone doesn’t.
3. When something/someone might.
4. At all times.

Therefore, honking loses its true meaning and is taken for granted in such places. Perhaps this ped was honk-deaf.

Just before reaching the end of the crosswalk where he’d be out of my way, he stopped. This time to indulge in some fierce itching of one knee. Realizing the time had arrived to roll down my window, I did so and gently called out to the stuper. He turned and, when he made eye contact, I made use of a universal expression we all carry around, and in my case, seldom use: the single digit salute. I don’t recommend the usage of this handy device in foreign countries or Texas, unless you are a ninth degree black belt in at least one martial art, are a former green beret who travels with arsenal or are seeking to incite a small riot.

In my case, I took one class in Tae Kwon Do, I don’t even own a beret and riots are no fun when you’re in the middle of one. Thankfully,  the stuper managed to make it to the curb alive with cone intact, and I managed to make my way home without further incident.

Why not think?