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Monday, December 21, 2015

Not A Dummy

I think we all have things, whether large or small, that can push our buttons and really irritate the living tar out of us. I could name various things that irritate me, and I'm sure that you could name a few things that irritate you as well. Please say that you can - if not, I'll feel like the title of The Meanest Woman in the World really does belong to me!

I've had several reminders lately of something that irritaties me to the point of great anger. I hate to be treated like I'm a dummy. No, not the kind that a ventriloquist uses, but the kind that must have a brain like Swiss cheese, with all kinds of voids where knowlege and information should be. And no, I don't have any misconceptions about my level of intelligence. I am of at least average intelligence, and have quite varied interests. In fact, when I was young and Gram would brag about my report card or me being in the State spelling bee or being an honor graduate, it made me terribly uncomfortable. I felt embarrassed to be praised, perhaps because of the many times that Alice, my legal guardian's wife, told me what an idiot I was. She also often told me, after being sick or skinning a knee, or who knows what, that I just wanted attention. With those things in mind, I suppose it makes sense that the praise and attention made me feel uncomfortable.

The other side of that coin for me, apparently, seems to be a deep seated resentment for anyone who tries to treat me as if I am an idiot, or far less intelligent than they are. Personally, I find educated people who act as though everyone else is stupid to be completely vile and revolting. Heck, that's one of the reasons that I like Doctor Mike and all of Trent's doctors so much. They have many years of in-depth education but they never talk to us as if our little brains are too weak to understand. And if you think about it, if they can't make their patients understand what they're talking about, maybe they aren't the smartest people on the planet after all. You simply speak clearly in terms your audience can understand. If the audience is a national physicians' convention, your vocabulary will undoubtedly contain more scientifice jargon than an office visit with the average patient.

Years ago, when I was working in telephone customer service for a large banking corporation, a job which I really loved, I knew how important it was to explain things in a way that was simple for the caller to understand. Sometimes the caller was a customer who had very little experience as a banking customer, and other times the caller was a bank employee from another department. Because of their varied experiece levels, the exact same information might be relayed to two different people in entirely different ways. Making sure that the caller understood the situation was what it was all about.

I'll never forget the call I got from an attorney who assumed that since she had earned her Doctorate of Jurisprudence, she was far superior intellectually to some drone who worked in a banking call center. Having two attorneys in my family, I knew that they're just people like everyone else. Her voice was filled with disdain as she asked a question, assuming that I was just too dumb to waste time and breath on because, well, just because. Having been repeatedly called an idiot and a fool by the wife of a brilliant attorney during my childhood, this really got my dander up. So I released my inner smartaleck and let her run free. "Well, ma'am, in a matter such as this, X Bank will assume no culpability whatsoever." Silence. Then her reply of, "You're not stupid, are you?" I answered calmly that no, I wasn't, and in fact, many of us in the call center were college students or graduates. The rest of the call was a delight, and I felt that maybe I had opened someone's eyes as well as striking a blow in the war against making assumptions.

What made me write this tonight? Trent received a telephone message requesting he call our online pharmacy about a prescription that we had requested to be refilled. Heck, I'm going to refill everything I can before January rolls around and we're once again subject to the dreaded deductible. Now, I am the one who gets online or on the phone and orders all of our medications. Trent had no idea what I had even ordered. Okay, he had an idea, but you get the picture. Well, the young man I spoke with felt compelled to test my knowledge of the medications that had been ordered, even though my name is on the same plan. I felt my temper simmer as he asked if my husband knew I was calling (yes, he was sitting less than three feet away from me). Trent was about to blow up when he heard the sly superiority when I was told that I had neglected to name one of the refills that had been requested. Yes, I forgot the one that has the name that's easiest to pronounce. From there it went downhill, including him tossing out a snide, "I didn't say B, I said D." Ugh. 

I am now over the anger I freely admit experiencing from the phone call this morning. I'm not a great intellect and I won't go down in history as an incredible philosopher, but I do know a few things. We are all worthy of courtesy. Everyone is different, and we don't know what amazing surprises may be hidden in the treasure room that is their mind. I believe that life is much more pleasant if you don't assume stupidity, among other things. Most everyone I know is not a dummy. And I certainly don't think that I am!


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