#30 - Day of the Brain Dead Mall

Back in my home town in the 1950s, folks who were smart got out of town pretty fast. This left a work force, somewhat less than smart, to man positions in the banks and store. Thus was created a sort of endemic stupidity in the workforce. These were nice people. They were simple folks without a lot of intellectual depth. They were what they were. Things are different now, of course, but back then that was how things were.

I have found a sort of recreation of this process in my local Mall, which I call the Brain-Dead Mall. When you go in there and ask for service they don’t have a clue. They’ve worked in the store for some time and they do what they do. There will be one Supervisor who’s a smart person and everybody else will be really borderline. If you asked them a question that doesn’t have a standard, canned answer, you were in a lot of trouble. Trying to find out something technical is virtually impossible. They may not know what a grommet is. They’re pleasant enough but extremely self-centred. Like everyone else, their world view revolves around themselves and the way that they see things. By asking a fancy question you become an instant outsider. You see things differently. They have a strong suspicion that you see things that they don’t and maybe you’re trying to be a smart ass on them. Well, that wouldn’t be too hard to do.

Now this is sort of a malicious piece because it’s talking about people who are about two bushels short of a full load but somebody’s got to staff these positions in stores in not very popular Malls. The pay is wretched and the work place is second-rate. I wish I could think of a song about that but the melody escapes me.

In your wildest dreams you could never imagine talking to these people about politics, religion, or books. You could probably talk to them about television. I have a biased view about the kind of things they watch. They probably watch Gerry Springer a lot because, well, it doesn’t challenge them and it goes to show that there are people dumber than they are – by quite a bit.

Now, there’s a famous story by C.M. Kornbluth called The Marching Morons, originally published in Galaxy magazine in 1951. Those were the days. This story is a Science Fiction classic. Except for a minority of intelligent people who are supporting the whole structure, the whole earth, is full of the unintelligent. Some guy who works in a menial position as a bus driver or whatever is actually keeping these people from destroying themselves. They have cars which have artificial elements that indicate that they are going at a great speed but actually they don’t travel very fast because, if they did, the stupids would kill themselves. Someone rescued from the past develops a scheme to send them into space to an alleged paradise of a planet. Bye-bye!

All this was due to a low birth rate among the intelligent and a much higher one amongst the unintelligent. Perhaps there is a lesson in this.

In any case this is the end of my Boxing Day rant against the intellectually challenged.


© Sonia Fricker Brock 2005

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