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Guest Column

Planes, trains and drive-through fools

There are some situations that just bring out the stupid in people. Airplanes, drive-through windows and any form of public transportation are common stupidity trigger spots.

I don't know why, but whenever people's bodies are supposed be moving faster, their brains seem to automatically move slower. The rate of slow-down is usually in direct proportion to the number of people anxiously behind them waiting for them to hurry up and GET OUT OF THE WAY!

Perhaps you have observed this phenomenon yourself as your engine overheats in the drive-through line while a family of seven ponders the complex 12-item menu and holds a speaker-side family meeting trying to determine whether or not today will, in fact, be the day they finally decide to Super Size it.

Or after a long flight when you and your fellow sardines/air travelers find yourselves in a 300-passenger pileup as Aunt Marge stands in the middle of the jet way exit contemplating whether she wants to turn right or left.

These and other annoying behaviors are symptoms of a widely seen, yet rarely diagnosed disorder, commonly referred to as DOOFUS - Door Obstructing Object Faking Unusual Stupidity.

It's a syndrome in which seemingly normal people become oblivious to the world around them and park themselves in exits, doorways, ramps, drive-through lines and other small spaces, completely blocking the way for others, thereby earning themselves the title of DOOFUS.

It's called DOOFUS because the symptoms usually first manifest themselves in simple doorway obstruction. Yet, like so many other addictions and afflictions, what starts as a seemingly small problem quickly morphs out of control. DOOFUS sufferers have been known to go from occasional home refrigerator blockage to compulsive bank and grocery checkout line abuse within a matter of weeks.

The most tragic part of the DOOFUS syndrome is that people suffering from it rarely realize that it has them in its clutches. In fact, some DOOFUS sufferers are in such denial that they try to place the blame on those of us who actually want to get somewhere before our life is over.

Fortunately DOOFUS can be cured. But it takes work, and admitting that you have a problem is the first step in recovery.

So if you or a family member suffers from DOOFUS, or you feel compelled to stage an intervention at Starbucks, here is my Seven-Step DOOFUS Recovery Program.

Feel free to post it on your fridge or laminate it and give it out to strangers at the airport.

Step One: Admit that your DOOFUS-ness is making life unmanageable for everyone.

Step Two: Take a fearless moral inventory of all the places that your DOOFUS behavior has impacted the lives of others and begin to make amends.

Step Three: Study menu boards before you get to the counter. Hint: It doesn't matter whether they call it tall, grande or super-size, the cheapest one is the littlest and the most expensive one is the largest.

Step Four: If you don't know which way to turn at the top of an escalator, go left until you reach a bathroom. Do your serious thinking there, not in the middle of the walkway.

Step Five: Fill out your deposit slip before you get to the bank teller. That's what the little pieces of paper at the back of your checkbook are for and why they have pens on strings in the lobby.

Step Six: Start making out your check while they are ringing up your groceries, not afterwards. The store has the same name they did last week, so you don't need to know the total to start writing. Tip: If you don't have your checkbook or wallet handy, you don't belong in line.

Step Seven: Humbly ask your higher power to remove your DOOFUS defect of character and awaken yourself to the LINE BEHIND YOU!

Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of "Forget Perfect" and "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear."

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