Saturday, June 24, 2006

adventures with stupid

I had a couple Cokes tonight, so I'm a little buzzy with caffeine. So I'm going to use this opportunity to talk to you all about a problem that I believe is destroying our world. That problem, my darling readers, is stupidity. I know you have witnessed stupidity in your own lives -- in those around you and maybe even occasionally in yourselves. I know I have.

Last night as I was about to go through the Ft. Pitt tunnel, I saw that the left lane was closed. Specifically, I noticed the first of several large orange signs conveniently placed by the shoulder of the road telling me about the lane closure. I also saw the road flares, line of giant orange-and-white barrels, the giant red X hanging over the lane, and the flashing yellow arrow that is the size of my (now normal-sized) car. So I changed lanes. I slowed down a little, put on my turn signal, looked to my right, and moved over. This is all standard car-operating procedure, right? I don't really recall a question on the driver's test that asks "what do you do when PennDOT has closed your lane?" or "what does a giant flashing arrow pointing to the right mean?"

Clearly, they have overestimated the intelligence of the average Pittsburgh driver.

Apparently somewhere in the possible answers for both of the imaginary questions I have just posed is the option of "slow down, swerve around as though drunk, then jam the accelerator while you have an average space of 3.8 inches between a) your front bumper and a giant orange-and-white barrel and b) your rear bumper and the car behind you."

See? I didn't know that, but that's what you do. Assuming, of course, that you are not only illiterate and color-blind, but also drunk. (Those are what we call "variables.")

They had out every warning system that is currently available. They just hired a guy to stand out there on stilts juggling more yellow arrows, but his drug test results won't be back until Monday. The sooner he gets out there on the job, the better. Lives depend on the PennDOT juggler.

There's all kinds of road morons. Like the people who think it's my job to let them into traffic. If I slow down and flash my lights at you, I'm doing you a fucking favor. It was not your excellent driving skills that hit my brake -- it was my right foot. Acknowledge this with a little wave. Just a flick of the wrist will say to me "Thank you, fellow human, for letting me in." Because otherwise, I will spend the rest of my drive wishing horrible, agonizing death upon you -- I will wish that you run over Ben Roethlisberger's foot and break his Big Toe. See what happens to you then.

Or the people who think they're going to drive over the edge of a cliff if they don't merge into the fast lane in wall-to-fucking-wall traffic. First of all, if you don't know how to merge correctly, then you do not get to drive over here on the left with the rest of us. Also, holding up the right lane for three miles while you try to somehow navigate your Chevy Behemoth into a space in the coveted left lane that is more fitted for a moped does not make life better for you, me, or the 9,000 people you just made late for work.

And if you are this jackass and I let you in to do the people BEHIND you a favor because you are clearly so stupid that you need help from those around you just in order to function on the road, and you don't so much as nod your head towards's on, bitch.

The thing is, these might be otherwise-intelligent people. They live life perfectly fine except they should be forced to take the damn bus wherever they go so as to spare the rest of us a brain aneurysm someday as we are sitting next to the stupid goddamn sign on 376 that says "Maintain Speed Through Tunnel. Your Speed Is:" and the electronic display reads something like "12" because everyone who passes it is for some reason humbled and awed by a digital display.

Then there are the unforgivable kinds of stupid. I can forgive people who get to the front of the Cash-Only line and whip out a Visa. I can forgive people who randomly ask me if I'm a Christian, as though any answer but "yes" means that I sacrifice infants to Satan. I can even forgive people who think that seafood and marinara sauce is a good combination.

Unforgivable stupid is stuff like voting for Rick Santorum or still insisting that this war was a great idea or being racist. There are even degrees of racist. There are the two-faced racists, who smile at their black cashier at the Giant Eagle and then count their change in the car because they "don't trust those people." Or the ones who chat up a white person in the elevator and ignore the Indian person right next to them.

But then there's another level of racist. These aren't even the KKK members, who keep their identity secret because they know, deep inside themselves, that they should be ashamed of themselves. I'm talking about the people who are proud of their racism like the rest of us are proud of our own accomplishments.

"I graduated from college!"
"I threw a rock at a Navajo!"

I actually had a conversation with one of these Nazis once. He seemed normal, and I gave him my number when he asked for it. And then when he called me, he started dangling his "I'm a racist fucker" medals all around the conversation.

One of the first things he asked me was "Have you ever dated a black person?" (His phrasing was slightly different.)

I was hanging up laundry while we were talking and my mouth hung open for a minute while I formulated a response.

"Of course I have," I lied. I had started seeing a black man once, but it didn't work out.

"Really," he said.

"Yeah -- and I infer from your word choice that you have some sort of problem with that."


If only I had a cave wall to paint something on for him so I could make him understand.

He went on to tell me why black people are all drug-dealing thugs because he got into a fight with a black guy once and the black guy's friends all joined in the fight and kicked the shit out of him. (I was glad we were on the phone so he couldn't see me celebrating when he got to that part of the story.) And that was it. One bar fight means every single person who is slightly more brown than alabaster is sub-human. Follow the logic from point A to...hey, where'd it go?

Isn't it amazing that I'm single when I have guys like this around to choose from? Not that the women are much more sane, but at least I've never met a racist lesbian. (Ah, but I am still young.)

Then there's the kinds of stupidity that you don't even realize exist until you start overthinking. Just today in the Post-Gazette, I read a little blurb about a serial killer who was charged with killing "11 prostitutes and another woman." The more I thought about this, the angrier I got. Do we have to specifically say that they were prostitutes? Yes, serial killers often target prostitutes because they're easy targets and because it's easy to forget their humanity. And when we refer to the victim of a horrible crime as a prostitute instead of a person, it helps reinforce that status. It didn't say "11 prostitutes and an investment banker," so why does it matter how those 11 other women paid their rent?

I'm not saying that I think prostitution is some wonderful institution. But let's not be so fucking Biblical, shall we? Leave the moralizing to Fox News. After all, there are a lot of worse jobs that pay a lot less. But at least you get health insurance if you work at the dump, and you don't get serial fucking killers trying to get you into the back of their van.

So there are some Adventures With Stupid for you.

Next time I'll tell you why the only thing more idiotic than the War on Drugs was the advice to crawl under a piece of furniture if an atomic bomb is dropped on your town.*

*This is tied with the Terror Alert system, which makes all Pennsylvanians wish for a whiskey IV drip because we remember Tom Ridge before his skull cracked open and vital parts of his brain died and frankly, this just makes us sad and wish for drunken oblivion.


Scott said...

:giggling hysterically: You forgot one key pittsburgh stupidity... The irrational fear, which occurs halfway through a tunnel, that waiting just outside of the tunnel is a giant Mothra-esque monster with the face of Al Sharpton(who you know all 'burghers fear) that will snatch up their Chevy (as big as lake) Tahoe and pitch it into the Mon if they don't slow down to a crawl and then gun it when the reach the end

Hrm...this tale makes me think of my own thought from last night (yes, I do have them).


fhqwhgads said...

I'll see your stupid drivers and raise you a "why the hell are you stopping in the god damned merge lane you old myopic sonofabitch?"

I wish that this phenomena was localized to your corner of the globe, but I'm afraid that the whole country has been slapped with stupid.

Ah well... we had a good run.

SpangledAngel said...

How much scarier is it than most Marylanders are now participating in a mass exodus to PA, as though it were the land of milk and honey? What does that say about our state, I shudder to ask?

Joel said...

i find the idea of racist lesbians to be quite comical...sounds like the makings of a great new edgy sitcom!! or, maybe not!!

Daniela said...

A few days ago, while stuck in traffic on the parkway, I scribbled something on a napkin. All about the stupid I encounter every goddamn's been edited several times to flow a little better.

Ode to morning travel on 376E

730am - running late for work
The car approached the parkway
And then the traffic stopped

Inched onto the parkway
Traffic seemed to crawl
Got cut off by a minivan
And then the traffic stopped

Reached the Swissvale exit
Not a turn signal in SIGHT
And then the traffic stopped

Approaching the Squirrel Hill tunnels
At a mere speed of ten
Pittsburghers fear tunnels

The speed limit is 55
The light up sign says I'm going 15!
I may just have an aneurysm

It's 748 now
I'm really late for work
Just entering the tunnel
The traffic seems to crawl
Idiots are brake-ing
All for no good reason
Got into the tunnel
And then the traffic stopped

Tomorrow I'll leave earlier
Or maybe take the bus
I just don't want to die on 376
Because the traffic stopped

One of my friends said I should send it to the city paper, if only for the empathy I'd get from people traveling 376E in the morning.

Scott said...

i got our tix for suzanne westenhoefer woo hooo! :)

Scott said...

I got our tix for Suzanne Westenhoefer. :) WOO HOO! :)