Amateurs vs Idiots
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Iíve always had a kind of grumpy old man observational style. Iíve complained about people who think the iPhone is the first, last and only mobile device. Iíve complained about people who get in my way when Iím ordering coffee. Hell, Iíve complained about people who shouldnít be on my lawn.
But as I reflect on the idiocy of the average person, itís not that theyíre actually idiots. I call these people idiots because I think they should know better, which means my definition of ďidiotĒ isnít that they are stupid, but rather a matter of degrees of experience -- that is, Iím more likely to think someone is being an idiot if they arenít very skilled at doing something that I am skilled at, like ordering coffee.
Iím not an idiot when ordering coffee. I speak multiple varieties of barista jargon and I know what I want before I even head to the coffee shop. But I am an idiot at Dairy Queen. I remember going through the drive through and after my passengers had ordered their Blizzards with half a candy shop on top, I had to ask the speaker on the menu board, ďUmÖ do you have something like a chocolate milkshake?Ē
Markie accused me of being Fraiser Crane at that moment, and I suppose I was.
Unfortunately, to get to any level of skill, you need to practice and learn. I get really frustrated every time I try to make it through an airport to make a connecting flight. There are people wandering around the walkways, usually glancing at their phones and then looking around, drifting in random directions or stopping in their tracks without warning and generally making it impossible for me to get by.
Iím sure I used to be that guy. Airports, after all, arenít the most intuitive places. You donít go to the California terminal to find your San Jose flight. No, you have to check the monitors because you might arrive Terminal C and have to take a train to Terminal E (which might be down a flight of stairs) to find some almost randomly numbered gate. Which probably changed in the time it took you to get there.
Fly often enough, and itís easy to know where youíre going, but most people donít fly every week. Hell, most people donít fly every year. It shouldnít be surprising that the airport is filled with amateurs.
But, some things thereís just no excuse for -- we all drive all the time in the US, so I am constantly amazed at how many idiots there are driving. They should have figured it out by now, but they just donít learn.
No, if you're refusing to learnÖ thatís a sign of being an idiot.
Thereís always a guy in a technical project who starts off a meeting by saying, ďI donít know anything about technology butÖĒ and then goes off into some idiotic, uninformed set of requirements that you canít logically challenge because he has already freely admitted that heís an idiot and he has no desire to stop being an idiot. Indeed, he has clearly stated that he prides himself on being an idiot so thereís no sense fighting him.
If this person was an amateur this could be a teaching moment. I can rephrase, reposition, and possibly realign the conversation and help the uniformed individual learn, grow and strive beyond their limitations.
But, a true idiot is someone that you have to work around. You have to simplify things for them, and take on the responsibility of handling the complicated things that are beyond their abilities. Which is a pain in the ass, but itís what mature adults do.
Iíd like to be able to say, ďidiots are like small children, so you canít get mad at themĒ except for the fact that A) I often get mad at small children and B) children will grow out of their idiocy. But for some, idiocy is a way of life.
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Kristen: Re: - Amateurs vs Idiots
Do you have *any* idea I sound like House when cursing Seattle drivers? "Your an IDIOT."
I'm so with you on this post!
E: Re: - Amateurs vs Idiots
There's a saying in Buddhism, that the phenomenological is consistent from beginning to end.
I was flying to Amsterdam from Nairobi, and a woman boarding ahead of me was asking the steward for help stowing her single carry-on bag, which was too heavy for her to lift above her head. The steward said, in a defiant and judgmental way, "Not my problem - I only have one back and I'm not hurting it because you packed too much." Fair enough?
The steward was probably using the benchmark of what he carries on his short stays before working his next job, or someone with similar in-county needs. The passenger was expertly avoiding baggage charges, but the steward as much as called her an amateur traveller.
I asked them both to get out of the aisle, as I was carrying 3 rather heavy carry-on bags, and an infant carseat. To which the steward responded rudely, "why would anyone pack so much?" I pushed past him and hissed, "jackass!", which effectively silenced him. And then my wife, who was carrying our son, said to him, "WE have been LIVING in Kenya for a year and now are going HOME! Does that answer your idiotic question?"
PS - I linked to your blog after searching for "counterfeit carnac shoes".
Be sure to see my blog over at Cloudenity. This week's topic:
Identity Isn't Just for Users Anymore