This week, I printed out an “eticket” from Amtrak. Since I’m going to be running from a meeting right to Penn Station, I thought maybe they’d let me know what gate I should head for, instead of needing to figure that out once I’m in the throes of rush hour.
No, they don’t do that. The eticket told me I’m on “train 644, the keystone” – useful information, to be sure. I also found out that “if you changed your itinerary, and did not reprint it, this ticket will not reflect that change.”
Are Amtrak riders really such idiots?
Maybe. Then I realized what’s going on. Clever Weasels buy a ticket for the 5:15 train, but of course they miss it because the subway screws with them. Instead of fessing up, they try to pull a fast one and sleaze their way onto the 6:30 train with the old ticket. When the beleaguered conductor protests, they say “but I changed it online!” Yeah — the conductor has never heard THAT one before!
We see this kind of thing on Judge Judy all the time (the hub’s favorite guilty pleasure – sorry, second favorite after he finishes scraping the bottom of the barrel with Family Guy). “Do you have PROOF you paid the rent in May, June, and July?” Judy hisses from the bench through her gritted teeth. “Yes, your honor. Here it is.” 3 seconds of silence as Judy scans the paperwork. “Sir. This. Is. A. Menu. From. Happy. Family. Chinese. Takeout.” (brightly) “Yes! And, I stapled my ex-wife’s electric bill on the back. That proves she owes me money!”
What the hell is wrong with these people? Fortunately, I have the diagnosis, which you can hiss through your own gritted teeth as needed.
Diagnosis: frozen brain
Patients with an atrophied or “frozen” brain (in layman terms, a “clueless moron”) can be easily fooled with crazy logic. My own guilty pleasure – “documentaries” about “real hauntings” – use this kind of bizzarro-world logic all the time. “They say that the witch of Andover summoned a demon who turned the family’s barn into a giant boulder….and here’s the boulder right here!” Wow! What more proof would you need? I usually flip over to “Bigfoot ate my lunch” after that kind of stellar detective work.
Cure Brain atrophy is a tragic condition that freezes any logic thinking skills, and opens the clueless moron to all manner of scams. It cannot be cured. However, it will often go into temporary remission if real money is involved. Try presenting the patient with a used car salesman.
Diagnosis: Clever Weasel
The Clever Weasel is the one trying to talk their way into the movies, trying to make you remember he ALREADY paid you back – remember? and the one that made Amtrak add “printed paper doesn’t magically change” disclaimers on their tickets. Your first diagnosis when a Clever Weasel presents himself may be that you’ve found a clueless moron suffering from a frozen brain. This would be wrong. The symptoms are superficially similar, but the Clever Weasel always is looking at his own bottom line.
Cure Researchers are working towards a permanent cure. In the meantime, symptoms can be reduced by repeating “um…riiiiiiiiiiight…” with arms folded and eyebrows raised while the C.W. spins his improbable tale.
Diagnosis: terminally Entitled dickweed
Once upon a time, when I was a starry-eyed young idiot, I was called for jury duty. Way back then, everything was still being done on something called “paper” that was made …oh, it still is? Right. You’d bring your little card in, line up in front of the clerk, and plop your card on top of the pile. Then you’d sit. Maybe for hours. Eventually, the clerk would call your name and the lawyers would grill you. This would go on for three days. If you were very, very important, you could get a special get-out-of-jury-duty letter from your company, but the desk clerk would still have to send it up to the powers that be to get a stamp of approval.
As I was sitting there innocently reading appropriate material (Dante’s Purgatorio if I recall), a Very Important Guy came up to the desk and presented his get-out-of-jury-duty letter. The desk clerk told him to have a seat and she’d send it upstairs soon. But he wanted it NOW. Now, now, NOW! A yelling match ensued, in which it became clear that if he walked out without the appropriate stamp of approval, he’d be fined or jailed. They settled comfortably into a chase-your-tail discussion, to wit, “but I have the right letter!” “but the head clerk has to stamp it” “but I need to leave now!” “but you can’t without approval” “but I have the right letter!” This went on until the veins were popping (not on the desk clerk; this was her day job).
Finally, the angry would-be-juror ran out of steam and stormed off to find someone “in charge here”. At that point, the clerk lifted his card from the top of her pile and placed it at the bottom, under the mass of cards on her desk. I’m sure he was there all day. Why? Because he was suffering from Terminally Entitled Dickweed.
Diagnosis: Intermittent Flaming Asshole
Intermittent Flaming Asshole is a painful condition that can go for months without causing the least problem, then flare up in an acute public episode with no warning. Both Clever Weasels and Entitled Dickweeds are predisposed to this condition, as the following case study will show.
Case Study If you’re ever too happy because things are going really well for you, I suggest you get your car towed in New York City. It’s easy to do – just try parking it literally anywhere in Times Square, or in your own neighborhood when there’s a movie shoot. After your car is towed, you’ll then be treated to a cross section of some of the most informative cases of Intermittent Flaming Asshole that you’re likely to see anywhere.
Patient X, a florid-faced gentleman in a tux accompanied by a pair of overdressed females, presented himself at the intake window of the towing dock (pier 76) at 9 pm on a Saturday evening. The intake window is made of 5 inches of bullet-proof glass, which is a standard medical precaution against contracting this highly contagious disease.
The patient’s new and very expensive car was in the pound. He’d purchased it less than a month ago for over 30 grand. After an initial examination, it was found that Patient X owed the City of New York $12,000 in tickets dating back decades, on a number of other cars he had owned in the past.
After hearing these results, Patient X began by bargaining. He stated he was willing to pony up the $370 that everyone has to pay when you get towed, but twelve thou? The next stage is denial: “How can a car that is less than 3 weeks old have 12 thousand dollars in tickets?” he asked. “It’s impossible!”
At this point, my inclination was to diagnose him as a Clever Weasel. However, as the line behind him grew longer and the clerk in front of him grew more repetitious and stony faced (“You can pay with credit card, cashier’s check or money order, sir. Then you can have your car.”), a truly magnificent display of Intermittent Flaming Asshole asserted itself. The final stage — acceptance — only occurred after a city marshal was called on to administer handcuffs.
Cure Pay your damn tickets, asshole!