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The answer is not 'what'

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By its very definition, teaching is a strange occupation.
My job is to constantly ask questions to which I already know the answers.
Perhaps that’s why I have this bad habit of always asking questions outside of work when I already know the answers.
For example, a guy did a U-turn on Central Ave. and I found myself yelling, “Hey buddy, are you an idiot or what?” You see, there I go again!  Of course, I already knew the answer to that question.
And it wasn’t “What.”
Walking out of a restaurant, I am engulfed by a cloud of cigarette smoke from the people sitting eight feet away from the door.
New Mexico Statute 24-16-13 mandates a smoke-free area that extends a “reasonable distance” from the entrance of a restaurant.
Clearly, these people believe that blowing smoke in your face is reasonable. My question to them is, “Are you an inconsiderate pile of horse output (from a horse that ate a bar of soap), or what?”
And yet another example: people who speed down Central Ave. I can only assume that they see “52” instead of “25” on the speed limit signs. You have to wonder, are they actually trying to cause an accident, or did their mother simply drop them on their heads when they were young?
Yeah, you know the answer, too.
Maybe something in the water dulls the senses of people. When faced with the choice between simply being an idiot, or what, there’s not a lot of “what” out there. It must be a terrible thing to struggle through the day constantly dripping with dumb.
OK, I know what you’re thinking. Who does this guy think he is, hiding behind his computer and blatantly accusing other people of being idiots?
Actually, I’m being a nice guy.
You see, when someone does something incredibly dangerous or rude, how civil is it to call that person an arrogant uncaring selfish cretin?  (Hang on, my online synonym app just gave me a couple more good words.) Yeah, or a narcissitic odious inconsiderate schlemiel?  (I really do love my thesaurus app.)
My point is, when someone acts as if they don’t care about anyone else, it’s far more polite to call that person stupid than to accuse them of being an arrogant member of the asinus subgenus.
For example, I’m driving up Main Hill Road. The driver behind me is tailgating and suddenly, despite the fact that there are 20 cars ahead of me, he makes a dangerous pass (on a curve) to get ahead of me.  
Did he do that because he wants to cause an accident?  Did he do that because he’s actually such a horrible person that he is literally hoping that someone else gets hurt? Can he really be that vile?
I feel I need to give people like this the benefit of the doubt.  Without getting to know them, isn’t it wrong of me to immediately assume that they’re “bad” people?  That they don’t care about anyone but themselves?
I think it’s far more polite to assume that they’re stupid. Yeah, just stupid.
They can’t help doing stupid things. Maybe it’s genetic, or maybe it’s a family tradition. Maybe these people ate one paint chip too many when they were kids.
So when someone does something that makes them look like an arrogant needle laceration, consider the possibility that they’re just running on two or three fewer cylinders.
A few more examples: people who throw garbage on the sidewalk, people who drive through town with one hand holding their cell phone to their ear, people who yell at a store cashier because some item is sold out and people who don’t understand what the “Do Not Enter” signs in front of Starbucks mean.
And that guy driving down the road in his “boom car” playing his music at 120 decibels? He’s not really being a pompous “private detective.” He’s just, well, you know, dead from the neck up.
So let’s all back off from being so judgmental and condemning. It’s just a matter of having to deal with underdeveloped brains. Well, that or what.
And probably not what.

John Pawlak
Los Alamos Columnist