Friday, July 9, 2010

Are You Smarter Than A "Jaywalker?"


The other day I went to the pet store to get some supplies. As I unloaded my cart of dog toys, dog treats and a 20 lb. bag of dry dog food onto the checkout counter, the cashier looked at me and asked me if I owned a dog. I fought the urge to say “No, this is a wedding present for a friend of mine. He doesn’t own a dog either, but he admires people that do.” Instead, I told her that I did in fact own a dog (and started slowly counting to 100.)

On Sunday I stopped in at a Chevron station to get some gas. I pulled up at the pump right in front of the store there and walked in. As mine was the only car present at the time, I calmly stepped up to the counter and dropped a $20 dollar bill onto the counter and told the young man I needed $20 in gas. Without missing a beat he looked outside and asked me “Is that your car?” Of course I bit my lip and didn’t tell him “No, I left my car at home. I thought I could fill up a bunch of 32 oz. drink cups and then carry them home.” Instead, I said “yes” and headed back toward my car so he wouldn’t see my eyes rolling like a slot machine.

Last night we went out to dinner to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. We went to a Teppanyaki style Japanese restaurant, similar to a Benihanas restaurant. As the waitress seated us, I mentioned to her that my wife had never been to this kind of restaurant before and she was very excited about being there. She smiled and moments later asked us “So have you both been here before?” Again, I was tempted to give her some snarky response such as “Yes, but not in this lifetime,” but it was my anniversary so I just played it cool.

Why, why, why are there so many stupid people around these days? One of my biggest concerns is that ours is a nation of absolute morons, and that they are allowed to breed unabated. It drives me crazy when people say or do idiotic things, which is another big reason why I could never vote Republican. How does anyone with even the most rudimentary common sense accept a statement like this as having any credibility?

''The ocean will take care of this on its own if it was left alone and left out there. It's natural. It's as natural as the ocean water is.''

—Rush Limbaugh, on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, May 3, 2010

Perhaps quoting Rush is unfair, as his mouth certainly spouts more crude than any pipeline ever could. But certainly our country is rife with clueless Americans, and I’m not just singling out the South here because you don’t have to be a tobacco chewing, racist redneck to be a moron. (It doesn’t hurt, though.)   Indeed there are morons from sea to shining sea.  Unfortunately, it's morons from the South that seem to grab the most headlines and find themselves in front of TV cameras most often, so they've become the unofficial spokespersons for stupid.

Ask anyone from the South and they will categorically deny (and rightfully so) that their people are any more stupid than anywhere else in the country and instead proclaim that the stereotype showing them to be inbred, bigoted, fundamentalist whack jobs is just patently false and offensive. They then will drive home the point with the question “Whatsamatta, boy, you ignernt or sumpin?”  Oh, the irony!

Maybe some of you have seen this video, but if you haven’t then be prepared to accept that there are a lot of really dumb ass people dragging their knuckles wandering our country’s cities with delusions of adequacy. I’ve watched the Jay Leno Show often when he does this comedic bit he calls “Jaywalking.” It’s a simple “Man-on-the-street” interview where Jay grabs some passing pedestrian and asks him general knowledge questions about current events, history, science and the like.

Almost always the person answering is a total dunce, unable to answer the most basic questions, such as “How many moons circle the Earth?”  Respondents to this question have actually answered, “Do you mean whole moons or quarter moons?”  Yikes!  Of course you have to assume it is highly edited and that not everyone can be this stupid, but sometimes you just wonder. One of the respondents in the video is a college instructor.  How scary is that?  This particular video was done for the 4th of July holiday, so the questions are about that period in history. Check it out:  

Here are some of Jay’s previous questions from the show and the answers they received:

J: In what country would you find the Panama Canal?
A: I have no clue.

J: Who was the first President of the United States?
A: Benjamin Franklin

J: Who is the famous French emperor who has a pastry named after him?
A: Crème Brule

J: Name one of the Ten Commandments.
A: Freedom of speech.

J: What countries border the United States?
A: Australia and Hawaii.

J: How was Korea divided?
A: In half.

J: Who won the Civil War?
A: We did.

J: (pointing at a U.S. flag waving in the wind) How many stars are on the American flag?
A: I can’t tell. It’s moving too fast.

It’s ironic that immigrants seeking citizenship to this country have to pass a test on American history with a score of 80% to be allowed in, but guys like Joe Bob, Donnie Ray and his cousin Tater living back in the holler will swear to you that the “Father of Our Country” is George Jones.

It’s sad and embarrassing that so many people in this country fail not only to raise the bar, but to even reach the bar.  It’s easy to blame the educational system, and surely the reforms made in the last 50 years are responsible for a lot of the dumbing down of our population, but there’s no excuse for being this stupid.

Maybe some people should put down the television remote and pick up a book for a change. You know, a book, that thing with all the written pages bound together within covers that smart people read?

It’s like the TV Guide, only different.



  1. Well, now... I'm from the South and was able to answer a couple of them thar questions from Jay. I ain't no idjet, ya know.

  2. I meant idgit. Sorry, I do struggle with spelin, sumtimes.

  3. Honest to God, I can't believe this. And yes, in the South we may have our share of morons. But I have lived in the Midwest and on the East Coast and I guarantee that they have their fair share too. Let's face it, people make fun of our accents and think it makes us sound ignorant. Usually someone with a thick Bronx accent who uses the f-bomb as verb, noun and adjective. Kat

  4. Hey Tom! Loved this! My husband and I talk about this kind of thing all the time, too. I'm always so embarrassed about the people on Jay's segments!! Unbelievable! My thought on that, as far as the younger people are concerned, is that maybe History just doesn't get taught the same way it was,as when "we" were young(er)!? And as far as the waitress goes...I think SO many people who work in retail don't pay attention to their customers....they're just putting in their time, maybe. When I worked at Barnes and Noble, I actually looked at people when we spoke to each other!! I remembered their faces when they came back to the store, etc.! Oh well....what can do? No sense getting all worked up over it....there's so many little time! :D

  5. I'm always amazed at the idiots on Jay's Jaywalking segments. It's sad. And I think our school systems are at fault.

  6. I should be crying instead of chuckling.

    But I take offense at one thing, Sir.

    "Cousin Tater."

    I have a cousin and his name is Tater. And yes he calls his baby son, Tot.


  7. I keep telling people....the world is being run by C students!

    I am one of those people who had to pass a civics test in order to become a U.S. citizen. There were 99 possible questions. You had to study them all, because you didn't know which ones would be asked. They ask you up to 10 questions, but stop at six if you've answered them all correctly. (I was only asked six.) This was almost two years ago.

    My daughter became a citizen a few months ago.

    Would you believe they've "dumbed down" the questions?

    Yup...the world is becoming more stupid by the minute.

  8. I feel positively genius when I see the people on those Leno segments, but you have to ask yourself, how many people did they ask to find those few imbeciles? Probably a ton. But there's no fun in correct answers, right?

    And re: the citizen test, yes it's dumb because as you pointed out, half of America doesn't know the answers to those questions. Ask blue-collar Joe Public who elects the president and I bet they'll be like, "We do!"

  9. I have wondered how many people the producers have to go through who answer the questions correctly before they find these idiots who are in CALIFORNIA. And I wonder how many of the ones chosen are answering to the best of their knowledge or just acting because they are on TV. But most of all I cannot understand why anyone would vote Democratic to enhance the Socialist movement. I am so proud to be a Republican and for what the party stands for (now if we can only get the GOP politicians on board, the party will be stronger.) And I laughed out loud at the ‘…eyes rolling like a slot machine.’

  10. Fortunately, not all "Republicans" are as stupid as Rush.

    There. I said it. I'm taking a stand. That's right. I can't stand the guy.

    Isn't a french pastry a Danish?


    Fun post.

  11. Actually, I'm from the South, and I know I live in a town with the stupidest people on earth.'s horrifying! Currently going on about 50 miles from me? The Redneck Games. Yes, you heard that correctly.

  12. I know what you mean, Tgo. It's unbelievable how stupid some (other) people are. What's more outrageous is that they publically reveal their stupidity. What's the French pastry named after the Emperor? I seriously have no clue, and it's driving me bonkers to be dumber than a Jaywalker. Please don't tell anyone. [I thought it was creme brule too, but then I realized he's from Africa.]

  13. Tom...First of all, Happy anniversary!! Hope you two are doing well these days!
    Second, thank you for your open advocacy of reading books. It's good to know someone of your wit and intelligence speaks out for one of my favorite pastimes!
    I have often marveled at the responses from the "Jaywalkers". Sometimes I really wonder if they have not been's just too incredible.
    (By the way, at least in our little 'burb, pet stores occasionally provide discounts to volunteers who buy food and supples to shelters.) But I have received similarly bone-headed replies as you did from the service station and restaurant...and wonder if I wandered onto a distant planet or something.
    Very entertaining post!

  14. I almost died after seeing that first picture in your post :))))

  15. I'm afraid it's just going to get worse, Mr. T.

    Sometimes I get claustrophobia being around so many stupid folks.

    Next time some idiot asks you if you "have a dog" when getting dog food....tell them-
    "No, but my cat has always wanted to be a dog"

  16. Hey, I live on Craggy Island, you think THESE answers are daft? Try throwing generations of in-breeding into the mix, they'd qualify automatic entry to our version of MENSA..

  17. Oh my dear Tom....being from the south, I'm going to try not to get utterly offended. I would like to point out that I had a 4.0 in college. (Well, the latter part at least. It was a good bit lower my drunken party years....but let's not focus on that.) I did get a solid 4.0 in my Master's program. And I would dare to say that the people from my state are more intelligent than Jersey in general... And everyone down here knows the father of our country is Ron Jeremy...not George Jones. Silly...

    Jay does seem to find the best idiots. I love watching that segment. Makes me feel all learn'd and stuff. ;)

  18. Okay, Tom,

    You done done it now! Make fun of the idiots on Leno, but please lay off the generalizations about those if of us born and raised in The South. We have our share of knuckle-draggers, but so does Brooklyn and Los Angeles and Chicago and Boise and Las Vegas. I could go on.

    We sound funny? Have you listened to how those people talk? An unusual accent does not an idiot make.

    You are correct about the sad direction this country is taking in education. No disagreement there!

    Happy Belated Anniversary................cj

    I dug back through your blog posts because I've only read your Saturday Centus posts. Loved this, even with the friendly disagreement.


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