Friday, May 3, 2013

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

Someone sent me an email with the caption “No Longer Feeling So Stupid.”  (Thanks, MC!) The photos in the email were of people doing silly or, okay, stupid things.  Like driving their truck head first into a lake rather than backing it in so the actual boat was in the water.  Or leaving their grocery bag, purse and coffee on top of the vehicle and driving off into traffic.

It reminded me of the time when I was a kid and heard a similar story about my uncle. He had some sort of station wagon-type vehicle that came with a permanently attached metal luggage rack on the roof of the vehicle. Such vehicles had to have luggage racks on top because chances are the inside of the vehicle was crammed with people and there was no room for things like luggage.

Hey, back in the day, people had way more than 2.5 children. Unlike today. Well, unless your last name happens to be Duggar. 

Anyway, my uncle put all their suitcases on top of the vehicle, loaded up the car with my aunt and their five kids, and took off for vacation.

He didn’t, however, strap any of those suitcases down. 

Once they moved off side streets and reached an actual freeway, every single suitcase flew off the top of the car and popped open once they hit the ground. Underwear, socks, bathing suits and all manner of vacation-type clothing was strewn along the side of the highway. For miles.

From what I remember, they didn’t realize what had happened until they arrived at their destination. They had no clothes. No toiletries. Nothin’. 

I suppose it made it very easy to get settled in since they had nothing to unpack.  On the other hand, there were seven of them and it must have cost a small fortune to replace all that stuff. This was back in the day before cheapie megastores like WalMart could be found in just about every town in America.  Probably the kids all got a souvenir t-shirt, pair of flip flops, a pair of shorts and a bathing suit and had to make do for the duration.  Still – an expensive lesson, I imagine. 

Kind of stupid, wasn't it?  Well, the thing was, my uncle was assuredly not stupid. He was a physician. But, um, perhaps he didn’t have a whole lot of common sense. Or at least he didn’t on that day.

So I tried to think of stupid things I’ve done in the past. And, of course, I couldn’t remember a single thing.  Me?  Do something stupid? Surely you jest!

Welllllll…there might have been one or two things…

Okay, time to ‘fess up. 

There was the one time I parked my car in my spot in the parking garage, walked the two blocks to work and then wondered why I couldn’t find my office keys. Someone arrived at the office around the same time and unlocked the door, so I didn’t worry about it too much. But a couple hours later, I started thinking about it – and I realized that my office keys were on the same key ring as my car key. And if I didn’t have my office keys…  So I walked back to the parking garage and reached my car. When I looked in the window I discovered that, sure enough, I’d left the keys in the ignition and then had locked the doors.

It took me another few minutes to realize that the car was still running! Yeesh.

Lesson learned. I now obsessively double- and triple-check to make sure that I have the car key in hand before I close the door. On the other hand, cars today have all sorts of alarms and bells and whistles to ensure that people don’t make this same sort of boneheaded mistake.

Another time I baked a cake and used granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar when I was preparing the frosting.  No matter how much I mixed the stuff, it was still grainy.  And I could not figure it out.  Now, in my defense, I was only 10.  But, still.  My family gamely tried to eat the concoction, but everyone ended up scraping the frosting off and just eating the cake. 

Live and learn.  Never goofed like that again either.  But I cannot tell you the last time I baked an actual cake. And I won’t swear to it, but probably I used a tub of that ready-made frosting.  It’s easier. And there is no chance that the wrong sugar would get added.

More recently, I saw someone make a stupid mistake.  I swear – it was not me.  I was filling the gas tank during my lunch break when the car in front of me drove off with the pump still attached.  Yes, it was a woman. And, yes, she was blonde.  Drat. More fodder for those blonde-jokesters.

But at the time, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I mean, she hopped back in her car. I figured she was looking for her wallet or something. But then the car started up and she started pulling away.  Even though I tried yelling and wildly gesturing at her, by then it was too late.

And the next thing I see is the clerk from the gas station racing after the car with the pump still attached.  

It was, by turns, shocking and funny. 

But I didn’t stick around to see what happened next. I wasn’t sure if there was gasoline spillage and I wanted neither to hear a big boom nor see a big fireball.

We all make stupid mistakes. Hopefully, they aren’t life altering stupid mistakes. The better kind of stupid mistakes are the kind that makes you feel, well, stupid at the time you make them. But then later you have a funny story to tell.

So here’s to the funny stupid mistakes we all make. And can't we all use a good laugh now and again?

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