The Unbearable Idiocy of People

I have an annoying problem: I’m often polite to idiots. I don’t know where I caught it, and why it keeps recurring, but it’s an unpleasant issue.

Now, I’m used to being treated in a condescending “you don’t belong in this shop” kind of way by some people. I have long hair and a beard, which means I’m clearly not human, and I tend to dress in simple and comfortable clothing, which is just not acceptable. This type of idiocy is fairly common, and if I tried to tell every person off who treated me strangely for my looks, well, that would just be tiresome.

But some people are extra stupid. Some people’s idiocy is a thing of power, almost a separate entity of its own… a gift or a curse from a force greater than all of us… something approaching Pure Idiocy, or perhaps an Idiotic Black Hole.

This is particularly impressive when combined with a good dose of arrogance and a super-sized share of incompetence.

Like the guy in the copyshop where we went to print the menus for our wedding feast. The idea was to print on both sides of an A4 sheet, two pages per side, so that it could be folded and turned into a nice 4-page menu. I’ve done this kind of thing before, and in most cases the best way of doing it was to create two PDFs: one with pages 4 and 1, the other with 2 and 3. If you print these properly, everything is in the right place for folding.

Unfortunately, the copyshop where we normally go was closed, so we went to another one. And the first thing this guy told us was “Hmm… Uhh…. Oh. You meant well, but you did it all wrong.” He proceeded to repeat this several times as he tried to rearrange the files to do what he wanted them to do. Fifteen minutes later, we had about five printed versions of the menu, all of them completely wrong, and the guy was still telling me how I had done it all wrong, and how the printer couldn’t do what I had wanted it to do. I was becoming more and more frustrated, especially as I could see that the printer was perfectly capable of doing what I wanted it to do – in fact it was doing so right in front of my eyes, just in the wrong order. When I tried to explain what we wanted him to do, he patiently explained why it wasn’t possible… using arguments that made no sense at all. When I said that I didn’t understand what he meant, the shop owner kicked us out of the shop for being idiots.

Seriously. We got kicked out of a copyshop.

Then we went to another one and printed the thing correctly in about 15 seconds.

But why, why in the name of Cat did I not go back and tell this person that even the clumsy and not-terribly-good employee at the other shop had had no problem printing what we wanted? That in fact this is a pretty standard way of doing things, and that talking to us as if we are the biggest idiots in the universe isn’t exactly appropriate? Why did I leave him with his smug idiocy?

And today we had the case of the wonderful travel agent. You see, we want to go on our honeymoon soon, and we’re trying to pick a good place to go. We’ve seen dozens of offers on the internet that might interest us, but we thought a travel agent might have some good recommendations, or be able to book places you can’t get otherwise. So we went to the travel agency, and talked to the young lady there. First thing she did was tell us that she is working alone this week, and that she already has a lot of research to do. OK, fine, but she still wanted our money, right? Well, we told her what we wanted. Rather understandable parameters, I’d say: beach, sun, within a certain amount of money, could be Caribbean but certainly wouldn’t mind Meditteranean, would prefer not to stay in one of those Huge Motherfucking Hotels, would like to stay for approximately 3 weeks. And what does this wonderful travel agent do? She keeps very condescendingly repeating that we should really have a clearer idea of what we want, because what we’re telling her is so broad, it’s really useless. I say that we were hoping she might have an idea, a recommendation, a special offer or something. “What do you mean by special offer?” she asks. “Some of our customers,” she says, “go honeymooning in Canada in an RV, others prefer a luxurious hotel in Mauritius…”

Canada? CANADA? I mean, nothing against Canada, but it ain’t exactly big on the sunny beaches and high temperatures, is it now? She kept repeating this nonsense as if it was an argument. “What did you expect?” she said. “You do have to do your homework, you know. This is your honeymoon. You should have an idea of what you want to do.”

Now why in Cat’s name did I not jump up and say “Lady, the only reason people like you still have jobs is because they are supposed to have more knowledge and ideas about travelling than other people. If we knew exactly where we wanted to go, WE WOULD BOOK IT ON THE FUCKING INTERNET!”

Instead, I did my best not to look at the young lady stupid bitch, and agreed with Verena (who was also seething on the inside) that we needed to think about it a little more, and walked out. And she went on to smugly confuse the next customer, who couldn’t know that this travel agent knows nothing and makes you pay for her incompetence.

I’m not always like this. The other day, when we were watching Harry Potter and Half-Baked Plot, a group of people in front of us were behaving so annoyingly it was simply incredible. I said nothing when the lights went out and they turned on their cellphones. I said nothing when they started waving about in front of us to signal their friends, causing about 5 people to be unable to see the beginning of the film. But when they pulled out flashlights to signal their friends, and started shining them in our faces… then I said “Are you insane?” To which one of them, a short-haired woman of about 50, smugly replied “Yes, we are.” (There is no-one more pathetically sane than the kind of people who go around telling themselves they are crazy.) To which I then said “No, you are ARSEHOLES with NO RESPECT FOR ANYONE ELSE” loudly enough to be heard at the other end of the fairly large cinema. That shut them up, more or less. The people who had been blinded by their flashlights were happy. And I felt like a tiny bit of order had been restored to the universe.

Should we explode everytime we encounter idiocy? No, because that’s just too exhausting. But if we never speak up, we’ll get used to letting idiots have their way – and that will always have catastrophic results.

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