Never underestimate incompetence


The author Douglas Adams was known for several amazingly brilliant, often hysterical, and virtually always dead-on observations. One of my favorites, and I’m paraphrasing a bit, is this: “People who consider something completely foolproof almost always underestimate the ability of complete fools.”

A woman places her month-old grandson in a bin for carry-on items. Doctors later determine he did not get a dangerous dose of radiation.

Now let’s set something up right from the very start… I am not trying to say that screening at airports isn’t a tough job, or, possibly a worse interpretation, is being run by idiots. That is absolutely not part of my argument here. But come on… seriously… explain this to me. Even when they didn’t place it there, how does a baby manage to make it that far? No one saw the baby placed on the conveyor belt?

In the past few years I have had airport screeners ask me to remove my shoes when the signs clearly stated it was optional. (Something along the lines of “you may wish to remove you shoes” that was intended to make sure no metal was scanned or time wasted because of it.) Having absolutely no metal in my shoes, I wanted to leave them on. Nope.

As I wrote about in a travel log of a trip to California, one time I made it all the way to the gate… including presenting my boarding pass earlier at security and going through the screening… only to find out I was supposed to be stopped at security for a random, more detailed screening.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that while I’m having a hard time figuring out what a person must be thinking about in their daydreams to miss a baby on the conveyor belt, I’m also not having a hard time accepting it happened.

Crazy? Sure. Inexcusable? Probably.

This shouldn’t surprise me though… or any of us. Why?

Because even when you listen to all of their rules, you can still find yourself with a problem. Rachel Popplewell double-checked all of the rules for flying with breast milk. Split the milk up into appropriate containers. Packaged it properly. Identified it to security agents. And… was told to throw it out.

There are stupid people in the world. And there are also stupid things done, on occasion, by otherwise perfectly competent people. The x-ray and the breast milk? I’m leaning toward stupid people. The missed extra stamp on my boarding pass? Let’s go with a stupid moment.

But these things happen all over the place. And sometimes, they go beyond stupid.

It takes a very special kind of stupid to be Koren Robinson. In July of 2005, Robinson was supposed to arrive at jail to serve a one-day sentence for a drunk-driving charge. He… umm… well, he arrived at the jail drunk. At least, that’s what the police initially asserted, as I believe those charges were later dropped as part of an agreement with the court. (You can go ahead and look this up on your own with the search engine of your choice. Trust me… Robinson’s name is such a bounty of quality stories I don’t want to deprive you of exciting reading by only offering one link for one instance.)

Drinking before heading off to jail to serve time for drinking… folks, they’re out there.

But then we reach even beyond that. To levels truly thought of as impossible. Gifted levels of stupidity.

O.J. Simpson.

See? You cringed and agreed with the “stupid” before I even told you what part of his history I was going to bring on to this stage.

And the winner is… a book.

Now… forget the book itself. If I did it is a very special kind of stupid. Not gifted stupid. (Stay with me. I mean that. Let’s follow this through.) In order to write this book, explaining what would have happened if he had done what he always contended he didn’t do, Simpson was being stupid. The use of a ghostwriter… essentially allowing someone else to say what he did, if he had done what he did, and then endorse what the ghostwriter wrote for publication while sidestepping it later… that’s a special kind of stupid.

But not the gifted level of stupidity.

What makes Simpson gifted stupid is the money involved. In this type of project, one of two things is likely… you do it for free and get paid later (not a chance in hell that happened) or you get paid in advance (ghostwriter or not). Either way, he certainly didn’t do it for free, and yet with judgements against him for this murders and this obviously being a project involving all of that, how could there possibly be a thought such as (my words): “if I endorse the story written by the ghostwriter, explaining how the murders that I’m saying I didn’t commit actually happened, the people that won a court settlement for damages will never find out I made money off of the book… right?”


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