People Don't Like It When You Call Them StupidCommentary • Opinion • ISSUE 36•07 • Mar 1, 2000 By Mel Turpin Mel Turpin Boy, you try to help people out, but sometimes they can just be so sensitive. Especially over a little thing like being called stupid. The other day, I was depositing my paycheck at the bank, and the teller asked me, "Do you want this in checking?" Now, that's a pretty stupid question, seeing as I had closed out my savings account a month before and now only have a checking account. I couldn't believe her stupidity. But, you know, I try to be tolerant and helpful when dealing with people who aren't all that swift. So, to give her a clue, I said, "Yeah, put it all in checking, stupid." No big speech, no insulting dissection of her dumb question. I just politely answered her and tacked on a little "hint." Well, Little Miss Genius practically stared daggers at me! What was her problem? I mean, all I did was call her stupid. And it's not like it's even necessarily her fault she's that way. Her mother might have drank too much when she was carrying her or something. All I was doing was pointing out that there's a problem with her intelligence. A similar thing happened at Pepe's a couple of weeks ago. I ordered the Beef Enchirito Deluxe Platter, and the waiter brought me a Chicken Enchirito. So, naturally, when he put it down in front of me, I gently said, "I'm sorry, but I ordered the Beef Enchirito, stupid." The guy takes the plate back, and as he's leaving, he shoots me a nasty look. Geez, like I'm the dumbass who doesn't know a chicken from a cow! Strike two. But even so, I try to be nice. Next time he comes to the table, I try explaining to him as nicely as possible why he's stupid. I even talk extra slow to make sure he follows me. But does he appreciate my efforts to better him? Of course not! He tells me, "I have a lot of other tables to serve, sir," and walks off. Yeah, that would be a real tragedy, not getting waited on by this Einstein, right? That was his third strike. As a general rule, I drop my tip to 10 percent after the first stupid move, 5 percent after the second, and on your third, you lose the whole bundle. I guess a fourth mistake means the waiter would have to tip me, but I'll never find out, because I don't give people a chance to do a fourth stupid thing. I was out of there and off to a smart restaurant. Frankly, I don't know why I even bother trying to help these people: Every time I do, they get all huffy and defensive. It's like the silly brouhaha that erupted when a cop pulled me over last week. It was almost 10 p.m., and I was racing to get to the Builder's Square across town before they closed so I could get the wood screws I needed for my basement shelving project. Out of nowhere, Smokey swoops down on me, apparently preferring that I get to the store after it closes. The first sign of trouble from this state-supported moron comes when he asks, "Do you know how fast you were going, sir?" Boy, did I ever! Ninety-three! So I say to him, "I've got a question for you, officer: If you've got a radar gun right there in your cop car, why do you have to ask? What are you, stupid?" Next thing I know, I'm in court. I end up in front of a judge, and I think to myself, "Finally! A sensible pillar of the community who'll respond to reason!" Well, guess what Judge Chucklehead has the gall to ask? "How do you wish to plead to the charges, Mr. Turpin?" Ye gods, was I in the Twilight Zone? What kind of question is that? I was dying to say to him, "Yeah, I think I'll plead guilty to first-degree trying to finish my shelves! May I see my loved ones one more time before you shoot me?" But I held back, because I try to show respect to people in positions of authority, even if they don't deserve it. So, instead of responding in a condescending manner, I answered plainly, "How do I wish to plead? What do you think, stupid?" I don't even want to get into what happened next, but suffice it to say my faith in our justice system was shaken to its core.