July 31, 2008

Adventures of Loud Girl and Dangling Foot Boy

"Genius may have it's limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped." ~Elbert Hubbard

Traveling is always an interesting experience, I’ve found. I have run into the most peculiar people and their strange habits on an airplane or a bus than any other public venue. From the overly friendly man who wants to share his candy bars and tell me his life story, even though I am oh-so-subtly sticking my nose in my book, to the lady who starts having a panic attack and insists on being moved from her seat next to me because a baby is annoyingly crying three rows in front. (I love my boss’s response to this, “What? You were never a baby?”) This most recent experience did not disappoint.

Our flight from Washington, D.C., was full. And I mean, completely full. Enter man with large cello case. Apparently, he bought a ticket for his enormous instrument, thank heavens. But, unfortunately, the airline messed up and gave him a middle and an aisle, when his cello needed the window (for reasons which are still unknown to me, perhaps his cello enjoys a good view and will snub his for weeks if it doesn’t get the window seat). Well, as luck would have it, the woman who has the window seat on his row also specifically asked for a window seat, which baffles me. I would kill for an aisle, always. Especially on long flights. Anyhow, she finally caved and let the cello have the window and took the aisle instead.

The man proceeded to buckle in his cello, and then—after a few minutes in flight—take off his shoes and socks. Yes folks, we are talking bare feet. Then, he very nonchalantly crosses his legs at the knee and lets his naked foot dangle all over this poor woman’s personal space! (Gasp!) Now the woman has turned her body so that her feet stick out into the aisle, almost with her back to him. Lovely.

After the long flight, we then boarded a shuttle, if you can call a 3.5 hour trip a shuttle, to our final destination. We started our trip very late, about 10:30 p.m. Most people looked tired and worn from their own journeys, and the bus driver switched off the lights as we headed out to the freeway. About halfway through, we stopped at a gas station for a break. Apparently this was enough to revive some on the trip to spend the last hour and a half chatting . . . until 1:30 a.m.

We all know how hard it is to sleep while traveling, and I find with each year that I get older, it gets even harder. A few with younger, more resilient constitutions didn’t seem to have the need of sleep at all, one of whom apparently had no control over the decibel of her “inside” voice. Once I woke up to one of her exclamations, “EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT I’M MY GRANDPA’S FAVORITE!” There was no going back. By then, I was forced to eavesdrop on her side of the conversation as she blasted it across the whole bus via her abnormally sized lung capacity. Snippets of the exciting drama included, “PEOPLE SAY THAT 19-YEAR-OLDS CAN’T KNOW MUCH, BUT I KNOW A LOT! I’M SICK OF THAT!” and “I LOOOOOOOVED MY SEMINARY TEACHER UNTIL HE TOLD ME I WAS DRESSED IMMODESTLY!” This went on for the last hour of the ride. I was never so happy to see DH's hometown in my life.

As I reflected on these interesting social experiences, it reminded me of an old Eric Snyder column entitled “Socially Stupid.” Eric Snyder used to write a humorous column called “Snide Remarks” for the a college newspaper back in the day. My brother was a big fan and used to send me the ones he found funny. This one was especially fitting, except the genders are switched in my example, which just goes to show that stupidity does not discriminate. Here is the article in its entirety. Please, enjoy.

(I did try to pare it down, but I couldn’t find a certain section to cut out, so please excuse the lengthiness. If you wish to read the article from Snyder’s website, click here.)

As one of the nation's foremost social psychologists, I would like to present a few of my major social theories. These theories were met with a great deal of enthusiasm when I presented them a few weeks ago at a conference held in the Smith Family Living Center, where I was in sociology class and leaned over and whispered them to my friend Rob.

My first theory (or, "Theory No. 1") is as follows:

Most people are stupid.

By this I mean that a majority of people on the earth do a great many stupid things -- enough stupid things to where you can no longer consider them "smart people who occasionally do stupid things," but, rather, "stupid people." I am referring to people who talk during movies, change lanes without signaling, and buy Spice Girls CDs. I am referring to people who write self-righteous letters to the editor decrying the self-righteousness of others. I am referring to people who automatically put an apostrophe in any word that ends with an "s." ("Me and my friend's took our car's down to Las Vega's.") I am referring to people who stop in the middle of busy sidewalks and/or bookstores in order to have impromptu mission reunions. I am referring to people who insist on talking to strangers on airplanes and in doctors' waiting rooms, even though the strangers obviously do not wish to talk to anyone. I am referring to people who have no problem taking up to 25 minutes of class time in order to discuss important issues such as Will there be extra credit available? and How many of the test questions will be multiple choice, and how many will be short-answer?

My second theory goes along with the first one. It states:

You can only be stupid for so long before everyone's going to know about it.

The reason for this is stated in my Corollary to Theory No. 2:

Deep down inside, many stupid people have a secret, burning desire to let the whole world know that they are stupid.

Case in point: a girl in my sociology class, who is the whole reason I presented these theories to my friend Rob in the first place. What this girl does is, she invades your personal space. The classroom is one of those theater-style rooms -- no desks, just rows and rows of chairs attached to each other, so you're pretty close to whoever's next to you. This girl likes to sit with one leg crossed over the other, her foot dangling. This is fine, except that, as you know, you have to be careful in such settings, because you're liable to accidentally kick the person next to you with your dangling foot. This girl, however, does not care about accidental kickage. I've sat next to her twice, and BOTH times, she has let her foot dangle there and kick me numerous times. My shin is developing a hard, reptilian shell in order to protect itself from the kicking of this girl. You would think that after kicking me once, she would notice that her foot is WELL into my territory, and move it back to her realm, maybe grunting a small apology. But no. Every time she kicks me, she looks down, sees that her foot is right in front of me, in MY space, and then she keeps it there.

OK, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "That sounds pretty annoying, but that doesn't mean she's stupid." Well frankly, I don't care much for your attitude, because here's something else about this girl: She says random things out loud in a class full of strangers.

One on occasion, our classroom was quite cold. Actually, it's been quite cold on many occasions, due to the apparent practice of only taking care of the new, expensive buildings and letting the old ones like the SFLC fall apart until they can come up with the money to tear them down and replace them with big holes. Anyway, it was really cold, and TWICE during our class, this girl said: "Brrr! It's freezing!" She said this out loud to no one in particular, while the professor was lecturing. Who says "Brrr"? I mean, who actually says "Brrr," besides comic strip characters? Also, I should mention that she pronounced "freezing" in three syllables -- "fuh-ree-zing."

I do not know this girl's name; I suspect she may not have one. I have every reason to believe that she does not actually even exist, and is merely a figment of my imagination. And yet there she sits, day in and day out, kicking her foot obliviously and making random comments.

And yet, her random comments are not nearly as frequent or as random as those of a guy whom we have dubbed Loud Boy. Loud Boy usually sits a few rows behind me, and he always has a friend with him. And as is often the hobby of freshman guys, he likes to make sarcastic and "funny" (that is, "not funny") comments about whatever the professor is teaching. But instead of whispering them to his friend, he says them in a relatively loud voice -- loud enough for us to hear three rows in front of him, anyway.

Here's an example. The other day the professor was talking about how the human body naturally needs a balanced diet, and how most of us would eat a balanced meal all the time if we could. Loud Boy said, "My brother wouldn't!"

Many of his jokes are not even THAT funny.

Obviously, we wouldn't mind Loud Boy if he would just whisper. Why doesn't he whisper? Maybe he can't whisper. Maybe he comes from a civilization where whispering has not yet been discovered, or where whispering is considered extremely rude, like in many foreign countries where they pick all these weird things to be offended by, like waving, or pointing, or squatting. Maybe he thinks he IS whispering. Whatever the case, it all brings me to Social Theory No. 3, which is:

I'll usually just keep writing until they make me stop.


L & B said...

i love the blog. and i'm sorry you had to deal with the 19 yr. old on the bus. speaking of stupid people, i was at the pool the other day and i heard 1."Ugh it is SO HOT, it's like, like we live in a desert!" 2."he's like a tri-athlete, but in real sports, not like running and cycling."
And these people have to go to byu because alpine in byu charter housing.

And when are you coming back to provo? if you're here sunday do you want to go check out our new ward?
(sorry this is so long.)

laurylaro said...

I must say I prefer the window seat. That way no one has to crawl over me to use the restroom. Not the mention that bleepin beverage cart and other people like to bang my elbow. Also, once sitting in an aisle, someones' tennis raquet fell on me after landing! No, I'd just like to sit in my window seat and risk blood clots on my next trip to DC.