Biff America: Shall we all take a chill pill?
July 14, 2010
Be careful, there are a lot of boneheads out there. I should know, I am one of them.
My definition of a “bonehead” is someone who behaves in a clueless, careless or otherwise ill-conceived manner.
It seems everywhere you turn you bump into a bonehead.
Another kind of bonehead is one who is selfish, cruel and corrupt. I maintain there are far fewer of that type running amok. In other words, there are more foolish people than there are evil people.
Let’s take the foolish variety first. All of us, even those of you who attended college, will occasionally do boneheaded things. Just the other day, I did something so foolish, it could have put me in the hospital or the grave.
I was at an intersection on my bike looking to turn left. I stopped at the stop sign and saw a truck approaching. The truck could have gone either straight or taken a right. It had its right turn signal on, meaning I could cross the road and turn left, which I did. My mistake was assuming the truck was, in fact, going to turn; if it went straight, I would be cutting right in front of it.
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The truck did turn right and all was well. But had the driver of the truck made the boneheaded blunder of erroneously putting his turn signal on and I was foolish enough to trust that turn signal, I would have been typing this column while dead.
For the next 20 minutes I cursed myself for my carelessness. If you want to stay healthy on a bicycle, motorcycle, or even a car, you have to expect and be ready for bonehead drivers.
Though ghastly drivers – be they careless or cruel – are a danger, day to day boneheads are only as annoying as you allow them to be. By day to day I mean those who display thoughtless or careless behavior on the roads, supermarkets, sidewalks and the like. Some are easier to ignore than others.
I watched as an older guy walked past a long line in the post office, then demanded service while the rest of us waited. The clerk hadn’t seen what occurred and waited on him while those of us in line called foul. He ignored us and was in and out of there quickly. (In truth he only cost us a few minutes and was gone.) Those of us in line had three choices: verbally accost that old dude, or perhaps physically prevent him from cutting in line, or think to ourselves “what a bonehead!” and get on with our day. Certainly that guy was a bonehead in the selfish category, but in the case of the stupid or the evil, you can either get mad or accept the fact that being a bonehead is sometimes part of being a human.
I wish I could say I’m always so enlightened in my acceptance of the human condition. My friend Mullet played a trick on me as I was bicycling around my neighborhood, which caused me to fall off my bike at a slow speed. Since I’m on the tail end of rehabbing a broken shoulder, I was frightened that I might have reinjured myself. Once I determined I wasn’t hurt, I got up and tried to hurt Mullet; he stayed out of reach and I calmed down – we both behaved like boneheads.
I see an increased sense of intolerance in this country. I don’t see an increase in the incidences of human fallibility as much as I’ve observed the increase of human fanaticism toward those with whom we disagree or disapprove. It just seems America and Americans more and more are getting their underwear in a bunch – which we all know can be extremely painful.
Other than our new-found intolerance, nothing has changed. We are all living on the same planet with many similar experiences, yet you see some reacting to the inevitable boneheadedness among us with more anger and less patience. The medical community suggests stress can shorten your life, so getting ticked-off at a bonehead can kill you.
It is been my observation, from the Tea Party to the tree huggers, America is madder than I’ve ever seen it. Perhaps it is due to the residual damage of 9/11 and the current economy. Or maybe, since America is aging, we are just getting old and crotchety. But either way it seems we as a nation have lost our some of our perspective and much of our sense of humor. And that really pisses me off.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or from http://www.webersbooks.com.