There’s no easy way to break this news to you so I’ll just spill it; there are some people who aren’t suited to do some things and they know it, there are other people who may not be suited to do much of anything and they too are aware of that fact, and then we have the dangerous group of people who truly believe they’re suited to do everything and these are the ones I seem to attract during my occasional shopping jaunts. 

Fortunately, at some early point in life the majority of folks figure out what they happen to be good at and things they should avoid at all costs. Unfortunately, we have the remaining collection of marginally informed, seemingly oblivious dipsticks that manage to hold the notion that the world really is their oyster and waiting for them to open it- while blindfolded and wielding a sledge hammer. 

During a recent weekly traverse across town I had the ill-fated opportunity of encountering several members of the latter group of nimrods. If only they were isolated in one area of incompetence I could deal with it, but they’re spread throughout the area in every conceivable venue and attempting to perform numerous functions that are clearly beyond them. 

The most obvious task that many members of the I-can-do-it-all crowd should steer clear of is driving. Apparently, basic driving etiquette doesn’t apply to everyone. For example, blazing along at 15 miles per hour under the posted speed limit in the left lane is perfectly acceptable to a chosen few; abruptly changing lanes without using a directional signal is a given; and steering a precarious course from slightly over the center line to a gravel-slinging venture onto the shoulder doesn’t phase these people in the least. Once they make it to their intended destination, parking the car becomes another perilous adventure for everyone around them. Have you ever been stranded behind one of these people in a narrow parking lot aisle? I don’t understand why they can’t pull it in and leave it there. Predictably, that would be too simple. These thoughtless few succumb to the invalid fear that the parking lot police will cite them for anything less than a perfect pull-in, so nine attempts later they’re done yet it doesn’t appear any different than their first attempt. Conversely, waiting for them to exit a parking space is even more exasperating, and I’ve been a victim of their ruse. They get into the car, and then nothing happens; they just sit there in some sort of trance. All the while, I’m anxiously waiting for their parking spot, but they don’t move. Did they croak? Should I call 911? Finally, their reverse lights come on, but they still don’t move. Oh good, now they’re buckling the seat belt, adjusting the rear view mirror that hadn’t changed position since they bought the car, turning on the radio, opening the sun roof, and ever so slowly rolling backward. But once again there’s a slight oversight; they forget about the necessary rotation of the steering wheel causing the vehicle to move in a rearward radius rather than in a straight line; now they’re stranded in a perpendicular stance and blocking the entire lane. In the meantime, the dozen or so drivers lined up behind me engage their horns and middle fingers. It’s simply a fact that some people should not be allowed to drive under any circumstances, even in a vacant lot.

My next encounter involved a totally inept shopper. I initially crossed paths with this person in the produce section of the grocery store while waiting my turn at the apple bin. I understand that some folks occasionally have a problem making a decision, but picking out fruit should not be a morning-long event. Eventually, I opted for bananas instead and headed for the checkout line. I had no clue how the apple picker managed to get in line ahead of me. Checkout line protocol is obvious to most people, but not to the goof in front of me. Rummaging around for the scannable store membership card was the first hint of how things would evolve. It’s comparable to mindlessly pulling up to a toll booth and becoming aware that some form of payment is required. By the time it was my turn to checkout, some of my items were approaching their expiration dates. Some people should not be allowed to shop alone.

Finally, a quick stop at an electronics store to make a return and I’d be done for the day. What’s going on here? It’s mid afternoon and mid week; why are there so many youthful people in line for customer service rather than being at work or in school? I have a perfect excuse for performing frivolous daily functions; I’m retired and seniorly ripened. At last, it’s my turn and it won’t take long. I’ll get a credit, be back in my car in a couple of minutes, and miss all of the rush hour traffic. What kind of question was that? Of course I knew the package had been opened; how else would I have learned that it didn’t work properly? Great, I’m dealing with the leader of the electronic nerds. I assume he disappeared into the back room to test it for himself. Oh good, he’s back, and armed with another perceptive question. Of course I knew it didn’t work, that’s the reason I’m here and I told him that right up front. A simple refund would have been too easy; a store credit will be just dandy. That insures I’ll return to buy something else I don’t need that may also malfunction and send me right back to this counter.       

A word of caution: never, ever underestimate the ability of a seemingly professional person to be basically inept at a variety of implied skills; people can only do so much.

(1) comment

John Flanagan

Welcome to the human race, my friend, where each of us takes turns being smart and occasionally acting stupid. And, of course, we always blame the other guy.

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