Idiot of the Week: Heavy Lies the Head with the Biggest Brain in the World

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The problem with assuming that everyone is an idiot but me is that it makes me blind to the rare occasions when people actually know what they are doing. In these cases, this attitude backfires, making me the one and only idiot on the scene. Let’s take a quick poll to see how most people would handle the following situations. Your answers will reveal a lot about how smart you think you are vs. how smart you really are.

You are at the metro/subway when your train arrives. Most of the cars are crowded, but you see one that is completely empty.

You are now on a crowded metro train. Riders are standing like sardines in the aisles and doorways, but you spy an empty seat.

You are now leaving the metro. Of the two escalators you normally use to exit, one is empty, and one has a huge line of people waiting to board.

If your approach was to break from the crowd and go for the obviously superior option of getting on an empty train, having your own seat, and avoiding a line, you definitely think that you are smarter than everyone else. If your approach was to stick with the crowd, you actually are smart. Because what you will find on an empty train, a lone open seat, or a vacant escalator is the reason that everyone else is avoiding it. It’s not because they are all stupid…no…it’s because that train car has no AC, that seat has a puddle of urine in it, and that escalator is moving in the opposite direction.

A truly smart person would approach situations like these, analyze them, and come to the conclusion that there must be a reason that everyone is avoiding the universally preferable option due to some unknown factor that makes that option undesirable. A person with limited faith in humanity, like me, approaches these situations and thinks, Wow, I am the only smart person alive, and heads straight for that puddle of urine.

The logic of a smart person does occur to me, but there is always that nagging thought of, Or maybe there is no good reason and everyone is just an idiot. Like I am the only one who likes to sit down. Like everyone else thought, I dunno, it could be nice to stand in a long line and waste some time before work today. I’d believe it. The problem is, no matter how much I know better, I have to check. Even though I understand that it is extremely unlikely that hundreds of people would wait in line while a perfectly functioning escalator sits to the right, it is possible. So I have to walk up to the escalator and step on it only to find that it is pushing me backwards. (I don’t have to do it with a “You are all idiots, let me show you how it’s done” look on my face, but that just comes with the territory I guess). I just can’t risk waiting in a long line only to find out that, yes, everyone else is an idiot, because that empty escalator was in fact functional this whole time. I can’t rely on other people’s judgement, because sometimes they are wrong. Have you ever been in line to use a single-stall restroom, but after seven minutes nobody has come out, so you awkwardly ask the person in front of you, “Um, did you ever check the door to see if it was locked…is anyone actually in there?” And no, nobody is in there, and you just wasted seven minutes of your life because you trusted someone to have basic intelligence.

So in these situations, I always check for myself. But I’m usually wrong, so I join the crowd and watch as other idiots like me head for that open car or that pee puddle, and with my new-found insight I scoff at them, Ha, this guy. What, you think you are smarter than all of us??

54 thoughts on “Idiot of the Week: Heavy Lies the Head with the Biggest Brain in the World

  1. I have a terrible sense of smell so I’m going to go for the empty car full of cat piss and I’d certainly push an old lady out of the way for a seat if it was empty. That’s just some more worthless advice from your dear follower in Seattle.

  2. Oh this is exactly like me, earlier this week. I’m one of the geniuses that think I’m cleverer than everyone by driving down the “bus only” lane during rush hour. Yeah… until this week, I was a real winner! but this week, I was pulled (or waved) over by a cop. Apparently. the bus lane is a stop and drop lane and someone exiting a bus was hit by one of the “clever law breakers” last week. I got of without a ticket, but I guess my days of circumventing traffic laws are over.

    • That’s always fun! That is definitely one of the reasons I’ve discovered for a seat to be empty- that, leaky ceiling, man with intense body odor…you know what they say, the empty seat is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get!

  3. I once learned this empty seat on the subway lesson the excrutiatingly hard way. Amidst many very crowded cars, I spied one that was empty but for one woman. So I ran in and sat down. The doors closed instantly and I found myself across from this woman and her puddle of vomit. Total idiot moment. Really gross too. I learned an important lesson that day: Look before you leap! 😉

  4. Ha! I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was…turns out, I don’t like doing things just because everyone else is doing them…

  5. I think I’d rather sit in unidentifiable liquid than squish with a crowd or stand for a long time. So I say it’s a win, whether or not anyone thinks I’m an idiot! 😀

  6. Total idiot here. And I feel even more idiotic after seeing your super nifty poll. How the ‘eff do you do that? Very cool! I can barely craft a basic blog post.


    • Join the club! The polls were actually easier than I thought. In the post draft window, I think there is an Add Poll button next to the Add Media button, and then it guides you through making a title for the poll and writing questions, and then it inserts it into the post.

  7. Yep, that’s me, too. Kind of like switching to that open lane in traffic and then realizing it’s an exit only lane. Gets me every time. P.S. I like your little polls!

  8. The polls were fun 🙂 I’m definitely a crowd-follower in these situations unless I can clearly see that the alternative option is viable and no-one’s copped on. Then I’m a trend-setter 😉

  9. Yes! I’ll be the first to admit that I might be a bit too trusting in others, so I tend to assume there is a reason why no one is using the empty checkout lane at the store or that there is a reason why the closest parking spots are empty. But then I worry that I’ll look like a jackass having stepped out of line to see for myself why no one is taking what seems the obvious choice. Oh, it’s a struggle.

  10. this was fun. 🙂
    I would go for the empty car (b/c I hate people) but I wouldn’t go for the empty seat (b/c that would, more than not, require me to say something like Excuse Me to someone) or the empty escalator (because I wouldn’t want all the attention on me).

  11. I stand by my choices to break away from the crowd. While I don’t think of myself as Einstein, my eyesight is good enough to figure out whether there is a puddle on the seat, and which way the elevator is moving before going on it (and by the way, I’ll take the empty non-working one over working but full). And I’d prefer an empty car without AC to a crowded car with AC. Of course, the car could have been used as a storage space for 20 easily frightened skunks – but then I’d notice the smell before going inside, or, if I already made the mistake, switch cars at the next station.
    Because too many times, I’ve seen people leaving the theater or a club through one or two doors in a set of doors, when other doors are also unlocked and work perfectly well.

  12. Haven’t we all done it in a ladies public loo? Surely that line of pained faces squeezing their legs together whilst waiting for a cubicle, is just a bunch of daft idiots? Surely that last cubicle with door wide open has just been overlooked? Undoubtedly, I will be the one to discover it when I go and look…to find the bowl full of paper, no paper AT ALL or some other unspeakable accident that doesn’t need mentioning. But rest assured, I would look.

  13. made me think before I was not fully caffienated! ( and I was somewhere in the middle on the votes!) One thing I do is to go to restaurants that are empty, many people won”t, and I have found some very good and quiet ones that way. but mostly, I am sheeple..
    Great post!!
    XX, Elle

  14. Yup, I’m the idiot here! But you are right, I would have to check it out for myself. Otherwise, I’d feel like I was following the crowd for no good reason. And then THAT would make me an idiot! So, I think you were smart to look for yourself! Following without knowing why you are following isn’t smart either!

  15. Hysterical. I ALWAYS pick the wrong line at the grocery store. Even if it looks promising in the beginning, inevitably, I am behind a person who can’t find her credit card, or argues with the cashier over the price of celery…

      • I always have to make sure that I’m not wasting my time in lines too. Sometimes it works in my favor when I find an opening or a detour to get somewhere faster. Usually other people catch on and I have a line that follows me. I’m just trying to find a better way, and it’s a little unnerving to look over my shoulder to see people putting their trust in me. I think to myself, “Great, I have an audience.” Sometimes it’s a hit and sometimes it’s a miss. In the miss cases, we just turn ourselves around laugh it off. Of course, we see people looking at us thinking, “those idiots.” In most cases, it’s easier to just ask; I’m usually that chatty person in line.

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