Wednesday, August 29, 2007

DAQ: Dumb Ass Quotient

The other day, while we were having lunch at Gabe’s Place in Glenwood, IL (great burgers if you’re looking for one), daughter Shannon commented that “There are plenty of dumb asses in the world. If you can prevent yourself from acting like one, you have the obligation to do so.”

She was talking about being in the dating scene and some of the guys who want to go out with her, but her comments apply in a much larger context. I am the first to admit (well, maybe not the first, there are a lot of people pointing fingers at me) that I am a dumb ass a lot of the time. I try not to be, but it just happens. I suspect that most of us are. My Dumb Ass Quotient is about average, I hope: 100.

But it’s the times when we have more control that Shannon spoke of. The political headlines in the past couple of weeks speak directly to dumb ass-ness, and Dumb Ass Quotients:

Idaho Senator Larry Craig’s behavior screams that his DAQ is very high. Why else would he bash gays, support a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, and then try to consummate a non-heterosexual assignation in a restroom in the Minneapolis airport, with an undercover cop no less? DAQ in the genius level for that one.

Ted Nugent waves machine guns around at a concert and suggests that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama should “suck on this” and that another Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, should “ride one of these into the sunset.” I think that everyone in America is entitled to his own political views, but this seems to me to be a threat, and perhaps the Secret Service should step in. Nugent appears to be inciting assassination, not one of the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. He’s another genius level DAQ.

Republicans do not have a monopoly on high DAQ’s. Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has vetoed funds to schools because he sees funding as “pork.” On the other hand, he continues to live in Chicago and spend about $5000 every time he goes to the capital in Springfield, at least once a week. No irony there. I’d drive him for half that and not bill for mileage. Blagojevich is also suing Democratic Leader of the Illinois House Mike Madigan for not calling a special session of the Legislature when Blagojevich called for one. Each is playing Mine Is Bigger (and we all know that guys who play that are really smaller) in lieu of looking after the best interests of the citizens of the state of Illinois. I grant both of them genius level DAQ’s.

Locally, one of the councilmen in the village I live in has suggested that because end of summer teen crime activity has increased, both the Police Department and the Fire Department need better oversight. He’s just the man to do it. The fact that he is a police detective in a neighboring suburb gives him, apparently, the expertise. To say nothing of the power he could wield. He doesn’t have a DAQ as high as genius, but I bet it’s at least 135. The village president reminded the councilman that oversight already lies in the village manager’s duties. Village President: low DAQ, high CSQ, common sense quotient.

I suggest a modest list of ordinary people with high DAQ’s:

People whose reflexes, vision and hearing are shot because of substance abuse, alcohol, illness, fatigue, or old age, but who continue to drive. Causing accidents, even if the drivers aren’t involved in them, is unconscionable.

People who stand in check-out lines and then act surprised when they don’t have enough cash, or who paw through their wallets looking for a credit card when they could/should have had it ready. High DAQ’s.

Service people who overbook, and that includes but is not limited to medical personnel, hair cutters, cable repairpersons, nail techs, and airlines. My time, and that of patients and customers, is just as valuable as theirs.

I’m sure you can add to the list, and I invite you to click comments and do just that. My thanks to Shannon for sparking this piece. And I ask that readers grant me the grace to keep me believing my DAQ is an average 100 - or below.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Amazement Everywhere

We are participating in that most American of ventures this afternoon and tomorrow: the garage sale. No doubt it has roots in the European flea market and the British boot sale, but it is always an eye opener.

I am amazed at the absolute dreck people will buy, stuff I can conceive of no earthly use for. I am also amazed at the audacity of people who pilfer one of a set of hand embroidered pillow cases or a used sweat/headband. Or the ones who try to keep me distracted while their kids take what they want. If anyone is that desperate all they have to do is ask. We don't sell clothes or used shoes at our garage sale, although we did when we had kids' clothes. These days we don't have kids around, except our grandsons who are in high school and college -- and these days kids in name only.

I am also amazed at the people who will bicker over ten cents. Especially since we deal in increments of a quarter only. It's too much change to bother with if things are pennies, nickels and dimes.

But there are a lot of things that amaze me, like the guy who was at the dog park this morning with his bitch Betty, which happens to be my late mother's name, too. I was not offended, except once he started talking, I didn't have a chance to tell him I was amused, and she didn't look like my mother at all. And she was a sweet dog. We have had dogs named after people, like Louise who was the smartest dog I ever knew, and now Stella, who with her pal Brando inhabit our lives.

And the names people give their kids amaze me, names so androgynous, so arcane we can't tell whether new babies are male or female. And so many names they give their children that used to be last names, and then dogs' names, like Madison, Washington, Adams, the early presidents, although not Fido (or Feideaux) although I knew a kid named Rex, whose mother is a famous financial writer. Leonard,the son of the people across the street who has a good, strong masculine name, and his girlfriend had a baby a couple of months ago, a child so beautiful it makes my heart ache, whom they named Ann. Ann, not Anne, a name so simple, so feminine, so sweet, that it too makes my heart ache. And when I teased them that they named her after my wife Ann (also not Anne), they took it with great grace. Of course they named their baby after my wife, long after my wife was named, an old joke. ButI was amazed that they chose a traditional name in this era of non-traditional naming. Perhaps that means that traditional names are coming back.

Wouldn't that be amazing?