Monday, July 28, 2008

Stupid People Season

By Ben Small

It’s Stupid People Season in Arizona, particularly it seems, around Tucson. This time of year is also known as “Monsoon Season”, which the Fed wants to change to something like “Possibly Aggressive Sudden Storm Season”, I think because it gives the Fed a PASSS, but folks here are stubbornly insisting that our summer rains remain “Monsoon Season” even while they whisper under their breath it’s really Stupid People Season.


Because people do stupid things this time of year. And they die as a result of them.

Most people living in Arizona, it’s no secret, are from the Midwest. And Midwesterners are used to driving through water puddles. So they see a water puddle in the road out here, they attempt to drive through it.

Big mistake.

This water is moving. Six inches of rapidly moving water will send your car to Mexico, no roads required.

“Well, then,” you say, “I’ll just get out and walk to the side.”

Even dumber. This water is moving sludge. Concrete-like. Fast setting. You’ll be buried faster than you can say, “Ulp!” And there’s quicksand, so while your mouth is being filled with Ready-Mix, your feet are sinking deeper and deeper. Plus, there are rocks and trees in the water. Bonk. You’re dead.

Just last week, some college dude was drinking with his buds. It was raining outside. Time to go home. Ignoring his friends’ pleas to wait out the storm, the kid left in his rice-beater. On his way home, he tried to drive through a moving puddle in the road, and his beater was thrust downstream a half-mile into a wash. Washgazers, which is what tried-and-true Tucsonans become when the washes are running – no telling what you’ll see ― yelled at him to stay in his car. But being young and male (which often means stupid), he chose to exit.

That was five days ago. The young man hasn’t been seen since. Officials are estimating his body may have traveled as many as twenty miles, and they’re saying his remains may be buried under the sludge, never to be found.

This scenario plays out almost daily during Monsoon Season. People just don’t learn. And rescuers are put at great risk. In an attempt to educate (or intimidate - you choose which) the public and save rescuers ― some of them are lost each year too ― the state passed The Stupid Motorist Law a few years ago. Yes, that’s its title. The Stupid Motorist Law says that if you enter a street that’s blocked off due to running water and a rescue attempt must be made to save your sorry... um... circumstances, you must pay the cost of the rescue.

You’d think having a law like this on the books would help. But not so anyone can determine. Every time it rains and the washes run, some idiot tries to drive the puddle and either has to be rescued or loses his life. And the amazing thing is you can see the wheels turning in some drivers’ heads. They’ll come up to the flowing water, right up to the barricade, hesitate, then slip forward a bit, stop, inch ahead again, stop, and then make a decision: Go for it or not. And of course, often there’s some idiot-in-training behind them blowing his horn, anxious to see if they make it.

Too often, people don’t make it.

But there’s a bright side to all this tragedy. When it’s raining during Stupid People Season, the local news staffs put their people on overtime. So much good television out there just waiting for the camera. Who wants to watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians, when there’s gripping real-life suspense on Channel 4? And it’s balanced news coverage; they show both sides of the wash.

But it’s not just the washes that make people stupid this time of year. Yesterday, three folks were hit by lightning. Ever see lightning during an Arizona storm? Looks like Thor’s really mad at somebody; he’s firing tracer bullets left and right. So what better time than one of these storms to repair the metal roof on your trailer, right? Or maybe it’s a good time to point a golf club to the sky and show how high a wedge shot is going. Somehow, these three people survived. One of the golfers can’t remember his name, even though he remembers his score.

Stupid People Season. It happens every year.


Jean Henry (Mead) said...

LOL, Ben. Been there, done that. I even survived a Phoenix "monsoon" with sheets of plywood flying across the interstate during a downpour. I love the Southwest, but prefer a Rocky Mountain blizzard to an Arizona mud flood.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Ben. I often wonder if natural disasters, extreme sporting events, and cell phone use while driving are God's way of eliminating the weak from the herd.

Unknown said...

You have a good point, Lee. Some years ago a study was done to determine the demographics of people killed at Grand Canyon, especially since most of the deaths are just plain stupid. You could have predicted the results: most at risk were young males. HWTS. Honey, Watch This Syndrome.