Think Ahead, or Behind, or at All, But Think!

My son occasionally goes to a site called The Darwin Awards.  It’s an ongoing collection of stories about geniouses (usually male and under 25), who remove themselves from the gene pool by doing….I was going to say SPECTACULARLY stupid things, but sometimes it’s as simple as, Look Both Ways Before You Cross The Street.  It doesn’t include trying to dive into the family pool from the roof of the bungalow, and missing by just enough to break both legs, just below the knee, on the edge of the pool, because, your buddies will pull you out before you drown.  Then you just get to spend the rest of a great summer in a pair of twin casts.

The son points out that stupidity carries the death penalty.  We both agree that it is not invoked nearly often enough.  If it were, shows like Jackass wouldn’t exist.  I’ve said previously that I don’t really have a problem with stupidity, but with people who have shown that they can think, but simply don’t and won’t.  I’d like to introduce you to the smartest dumb guy, or the dumbest smart guy, that I’ve met in my entire life.  He happens to be American, but I’m sure some of his white trash relatives live in Canada.

Let me set the scene.  This was long ago, shortly after the Earth cooled and the last of the dinosaurs had died in skateboard accidents.  I got up early on the Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend and walked 4 blocks west and eight blocks south, to my older, married sister’s house, which was located just off the highway where it entered my home town.  She had a couple of little chores she hadn’t nagged managed to get her husband to do.  My mother sent along a couple of items, and my sister had a couple of things she wanted taken back with me.  Everything done except the final delivery, I was walking back home just in time for lunch.  I was walking along the sidewalk beside the highway, and was about a hundred feet from the intersection with the main street, where I would turn east, when a car slowly passed me at just better than my walking speed.  It pulled over tight to the curb, just at the beginning of the right turn lane and the passenger window rolled down.

I’m going to be asked something, I thought,  probably directions, so I eased over towards the car.  I tend to notice things which many other people don’t, often strange or out-of-place things.  That wasn’t difficult with this car.  I remind the reader that this was Labor Day Saturday.  It was a lovely little Ford Mustang, with Mom and Dad in the front, and two tweens, one male, one female and about two hundred pounds of luggage in the tiny little back seat.  These kids didn’t look like they’d been able to move a muscle, even to take a deep breath, since the doors were closed.  The car had a Michigan plate, and, what brought it out of The Twilight Zone, was the fact that it had four sets of skis and poles strapped to the trunk carrier.  Oh, oh!

Sure enough, Mom leans back as far as she can and Deputy Dawg, the driver leans over to the window and smiles and asks, Where’s the snow?  Yeah,  didn’t see that one coming.  I’m in temporary meltdown; what do you answer to that?  I pointed on up the highway and said, You’re heading North.  He nodded and said Yeah?  I said, The highway turns to the east as you leave town, but if you keep heading North for about 1500 miles, I think they have snow up there.  But where are we going to ski?  I don’t know if they want cross-country or downhill.  If they follow the highway to the east about a hundred miles, some nice little hills poke themselves up.  Some of them even have ski runs on them, but they don’t have any more snow than we do here.

Now I’m curious as to just how this circus got to my town, so I asked, where ya from?  Michigan!  No! Really Bob?  And you even have a car with a Michigan plate on it.  Where exactly in Michigan?  Bay City, is the happy answer.  If I walked the remaining 50 feet to the corner, turned left, and pointed west down main street, and across Lake Huron, where tourists are still swimming and boating, I could almost see Bay City.  It might be a bit further south, but not much.  The two communities are on the tips of a large V.

In an attempt to place an understanding of the relative geography into his head I asked, how did you get here?  My birthday was in about three weeks.  I’m still only 14.  I felt that I should go very carefully about teaching a middle-aged man about social responsibility and world situations.  We drove down to Detroit, crossed over to Windsor, and drove up here, he replied.  So, you drove south and then turned around and drove the same distance north, why would you expect snow?  Well, this is Canada, isn’t it?  Ya got me there, Sparky, this definitely is Canada.  How could I have been so silly?

Wait a minute!  You said you drove to Detroit and crossed over?  Yeah, why?  Why didn’t you cross the border at Port Huron, into Sarnia?  Where???  Dear Lord, he can’t read a map either.  Sarnia/Port Huron sit just at the bottom of Lake Huron.  It’s at least another hour and a half to drive all the way to Detroit, and then when you get on the Canadian side, you have to go way out around the belly of Lake St. Clair for a two hour ride to get back to  where you already were.  He’s caused himself four hours of wasted gas and driving time with two kids crammed in the back.

I just had to know what kind of a guy did all this.  What do you do for a living?  I’m a Production Engineer!  And he’s edumacated.  A college man, maybe university.  A real school gave him a real piece of paper to prove it.  Ignoring the strange little kink that would put him on the road on Labor Day, looking for snow, even if he had showed up at New Years, he dragged his wife and kids hundreds of miles with no more firm address in mind than Skiing, Canada.  He didn’t know where to go.  He didn’t call or write ahead to book accomodations.  Some folks are like that; it’s an adventure, we’ll sleep in the car.  MOST of them survive.  At least he didn’t kill the wife or kids.  Fifty-five years later I still shake my head.  I don’t know where/if they stayed for the weekend, or what they did with ski outfits but no swimsuits.  Iz not my problem, man.