Monday, November 19, 2007

I am dumb

I feel dumb when I talk to people. I feel like I can't say what I would say if I had time to think about it or if I was talking to them without being seen like on Instant Messenger. I feel like when in the presence of strangers I say things that make me look stupid. I say the most dumb things to people who work in industries that are considered by 'intellectuals' to be 'low-brow' jobs. I feel inept and childish in most situations that 'men' would handle without difficulty. I do not know anything about cars or tools. I feel dumb when I do shit like today when I ran out of gas on the expressway. I sat in my car for a while and looked around and punched the steering wheel and then I got out and started walking. I got a mile until the DOT assistance vehicle picked me up. He picked me up at the mouth of a tunnel where the cars were flying by very close. I approached the vehicle and started to open the door before I saw that the window was open and he was going to speak to me. I kind of shut the door back half-latched. The man asked what was wrong and I told him and he said to get in and I got in. He was nice and had a mustache and seemed like he could lift a lot of weight. He described me on his CB to someone somewhere else as a white male with a brown shirt. I looked to see if my shirt was brown. The man drove me to a gas station and bought gas to put in my car. I did not have to pay for the gas. We drove back and he said how he was in the Army until he had a baby and that in the Army life was good because you could do whatever you wanted and you always had money and did not have to pay rent. I said a lot of awkward things in the transitions between his speech. Other people seem comfortable with riding in silence with other people but I usually try to talk and that makes it more awkward, though the awkward is probably mostly in my mind because most people probably don't care about what is awkward as much as I think they do. Sometimes people say things that are simple and to acknowledge my awareness that I heard and understand what they were saying I will repeat what they just said back in a more complicated way. For instance, someone will say "It's cold outside" and I will say back "Yes the temperature is dropping to a very frigid point." I think I usually do that because I want to fill space and I don't know what else to say. In the DOT van we passed where my car was while going the opposite direction on the expressway and then we got off at an exit and turned around and got back on the expressway and drove back to where my car was. We got out and the man put the gas in my tank while I got in and watched the gauge rise. The car still wouldn't start. I was on an incline. We rolled it down the incline until it was sitting flat on a bridge. The car still wouldn't start. It felt like the car was rumbling and shaking awfully but I realized later it was just the effect of passing traffic on the bridge below. The man put more gas in and still nothing and he opened my hood and sprayed some crap on something and tried to jump the battery just in case. The car still would not start. He looked at me. He said he could call a tow. We did. I sat in my car and waited. It was too warm in the car with the windows up because it has gotten hot here against for some reason. I read a book I had on my dashboard. The book was Ben Lerner's ANGLE OF YAW. It is an excellent book but it did not distract me from feeling dumb. The towtruck arrived and I got out of the car and approached him and he said I should move away from the fast traffic. The towtruck guy had a very large belly and cruddy gloves and a kind smile. I told him what happened and he said all I needed was more gas. He said that a car of my size still on a slight incline needed more than a quarter tank. I felt stupid even though the man was very nice. I felt like he knows a lot of things that I do not and that his knowledge is just as specialized as my knowledge of whatever it is that I know and that his knowledge is more useful than mine. I know about things like ANGLE OF YAW. He knows how to fix a car when stranded. He seemed much more capable of getting along on a day to day basis pleasantly than I did even though his job is hard and I spend all day in front of the computer. I didn't want to tell him not to tow me now because he'd already gotten me strapped in, though I knew it would cost a lot and all I needed was more gas. We rode to the gas station and I tried to make conversation and I felt dumb saying things. My father often asks me why I don't have any common sense. I don't feel like I don't have common sense I just feel like I do not know how to operate my body. We put $40 worth of gas in my car which was the most I'd put in my car in a long time. I had to swipe the credit card three times because I kept putting it in the wrong way. The man was very patient with me even though I continued to feel dumb. The car started with the gas in it. The man said they took Visa or Mastercard. I asked dumbly if they took credit or check, kind of talking just at the end as he finished saying what they took. He said again they took Visa or Mastercard. It cost $90 for me to tow my car 2 miles to the gas station so I could put more gas in it. I thought about how on my way to the interstate that afternoon I had passed a Texaco and started to pull in but did not because I figured I could make it where I was going. I told the guy that I felt dumb for not having done that and he shrugged and said, "Shit happens."


Josh Maday said...

I feel this dumbness you're talking about. I live this double life where I work construction all day, you know, "low-brow", and stuff like Ben Lerner's Angle of Yaw is swirling around my head and I can't talk about this stuff with anyone and when I finally get to I sound like an idiot, I stammer and talk in circles because I can only think how it feels like Angle of Yaw and Blake Butler are things I made up and I thought they were only in my head, and it feels scary that people in the world know what's in my head. You wrote about it well. If my car breaks down on the highway, I hope I have my copy of Ben Lerner's Angle of Yaw. Good post. Thank you.

DB said...

I experience this when I leave college and have to go do things like get my car worked on. I feel stupid compared to others with less education because knowing books is only good in a world where books help you survive (in a practical sense). This is not that world.

Lyndall-O said...

I relate.

Kendra Grant Malone said...

i liked this a lot.

i worked in a warehouse and drove trucks for a living all through college.

now im in nyc and i write copy and edit tv shows at a desk.

the situation and contexts changed. social caste, ect. when i had a blue collar job, i lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. now i have a white collar job and i live in the ghetto and "bloods for life" is spray painted on the sidewalk of my apartment building.

regardless i felt the same in both times and places. i felt pretty dumb. i feel dumb.

you can be inadequate anywhere. i bet there are hungry children in haiti that feel sub par.

sam pink said...

i never feel dumb because i feel nothing whatsoever. i did feel motivated once, when i dropped a raisin behind my couch. it was dark in the room. i thought i found it but it was just a dead spider.


i feel better.

i have a huge skull.