I saw something yesterday that could quite possibly be the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. I know I say that a lot but stay with me here, I really mean it this time.
Yesterday I found myself at one of the fall fairs that seem to pop up everywhere this time of year what with it being Fall and everything. this one is one of the biggest ones around the area where I live and it attracts some pretty big name grandstand shows, which is why I was there. Howie Mandell was playing last night and I managed to score tickets to go, but that’s not why we’re all gathered around for story time so I’ll move on after telling you to go see Howie if he comes to your town, he puts on a good show. Not the best I’ve been to, but good all the same. Anyway, where was I? Right, the fair and the stupid thing I saw.
So I’m at the fair, killing time before the show starts. I’m walking around, playing some games, losing some money, seeing the sites, the regular things that you do at a fair. At one point we found ourselves in one of the animal buildings, the ones where various farm people put all manner of different animals on display complete with signs and factual information about them so that people can come in, look around, and leave a little bit smarter than they were when they came in. at least that’s the theory.
Just to give you all a bit of perspective, this particular building had a pretty wide selection of different animals to look at. Everything from horses and cows to chickens and even llamas and who knows what else were there to be seen and even touched. I mention this because it’s important that you keep in mind that there were all sorts of different things in there, ranging from the everyday to the “I think I’ve seen that once or twice a long time ago.”
So as we’re walking along, reading the signs and looking at things, something happened that would forever shake my increasingly unstable faith in my fellow man. I know that I didn’t imagine it, because one of the people I was with heard it too.
Person 1 [looking into one of the cages]: “What’s that thing in there?”
Person 2 [looks inside the cage, pauses to think, looks around, thinks some more and then turns back to person 1 and says in what sounds like more of an unsure tone than anything else,]: “I think it’s a duck.”
Yes, you read that right, “I *think* it’s a duck.”
I immediately turn to the person next to me to make sure that I wasn’t completely insane and that I had in fact heard what I thought I had. It was funny too because at the exact same moment she looked at me, most likely trying to make sure of the exact same things.
Now I’ll readily admit that I’m a city person and as such I’m not always up on my animal trivia and identification. Hell, I wouldn’t know what a lot of different things were in there without those helpful signs but even I, as dumb as I am, can recognize a duck, especially considering that not only were there signs that said “duck” on them, but the thing was quacking at the time.
I’m sure that some of you are probably thinking “but Steve, what if they come from another culture, one where they don’t have ducks?” And to all of you I say perhaps, but even if they do, am I also to believe that they come from a culture where they don’t have signs either? Then I snap out of smartass mode and say simply that I wish that were the case. I thought of that as my mind was racing to come up with something, anything to justify what I had just seen but alas, these 2 geniuses were adult white people who spoke perfectly clear non-accented English and who for all I know could have lived in town since the day they were born.
And that’s another thing. They were adults! I mean I almost could have cut them some slack if the person doing the asking was a small child, even though it would still be kind of sad for a kid to not know what one of the most recognizable animals on earth was but you know what I mean, it would have made sense because children ask questions when they don’t understand or simply don’t know. But no, we’re ddealing with adults here. People who have presumably been around for a while, seen a few things, had a few experiences, and maybe, just maybe, um, gone outside, or went to school beyond the first day, the day when they teach you basic things, things like what colour the sky is, that it’s not a good idea to wet your pants in the middle of a public setting, and what a goddamn duck looks like! And even if for some reason you had to miss What A Goddamn Duck Looks Like Class, it’s no big deal, there’s always story time, and pretty much every children’s book ever written has a duck in it somewhere so it’s all good, you’ll be able to catch up without too much of a problem.
But as much as this story makes me laugh, it also makes me sad, and I mean that. I’ve heard it said and I tend to agree that the world is getting dumber every day. You might think that an attitude like that is either elitist or pessimistic and to an extent that’s a fair point, because trust me, I’d love to have faith in mankind. I’d love to be able to assume by default that people will do the right thing or know how to hold up their end of a conversation on a few different topics, or even simply that any random person that I spot on the street or in a bar will be able to tell the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground. the problem is that I can’t, because I live in a place that I and the rest of the people who live here like to call the real world, and I’m a people watcher, actually I’m more of a people listener because of the whole blindness thing. But the point I’m trying to make here is simply that the more you walk around, the more you observe people, the things they do and the things they say, the more obvious it becomes that as a society, we’re not all that bright. And if you can live in this world and not notice that, I’ve got some bad news for you, you’re probably part of the problem.
Take care of yourselves, and each other.