The Art of Looking Dumb

Written by on August 29th, 2016 // Filed under Craft Of Writing, Encouragement & Philosophy, Erika Viktor

Being a dunce is sometimes the thing we need to succeed!

This weekend I traveled to Dallas, Texas to meet up with a friend who had a collection of rare toys to sell me. I also visited the antique stores in the surrounding area to pick for items to resell in my antique business. Although I enjoyed the trip immensely, there were some hiccups.

One such hurdle I experienced was how to get three large 18x18x24 boxes and two bags of luggage from the car rental garage to the Dallas Fort Worth airport. None of these boxes were on rollers and I couldn’t carry them myself. The post office was closed, it being Sunday so I couldn’t ship them. I was required to take a shuttle bus and I was alone.

To make matters worse, I was under a huge time pressure. I had to get to the airport, check the baggage (and possibly wrestle with security since some of these items would look odd upon x-ray), then get to my terminal and board the flight.

And I was all by myself.

So I made a choice to allow myself to look very dumb.

Like most people, I try to preserve my dignity. I consider it my job to keep a cool facade. I try to appear competent and together as often as possible. I try to refuse help, look stoic and be cool man, be cool.

But sometimes, one simply has to let go to get the job done.

I flagged down a group of parking lot attendants and asked them to help me carry the boxes to the bus. From there, I had to ask every bus attendant if they were going to DFW. I got yelled at by two of them, all while standing in a group of dignified souls with only one rolling luggage who were watching me with bemusement and annoyance.

Getting my boxes on the bus was a trial. It took the dedicated help of another lone traveller to help me slide each box into the shelving.
While sitting on the bus I got more than one eye roll from fellow passengers.

Upon arriving at the airport, I had to get from the bus stop to the baggage check. I had hoped there would be luggage carts, but no luck. Since airport security are kind of touchy about leaving bags unattended, I couldn’t go searching for a cart kiosk.

Again, it took recruiting some nice fellows. By stacking the boxes onto their rolling luggage, we somehow got the boxes to the baggage check.

From there, the comedy continued, as I moved through the line, I had to slide all three boxes and two suitcases a couple feet every minute, while people stared.

After I arrived at the baggage check, the woman gave me one “screw this” look and said “Going on break!” and left. None of the other attendants appeared to have noticed. I stood there like a lost puppy in the rain for awhile. People stared.

Finally, a woman waved me over to her desk and I had to slide the boxes yet one more time through a crowd of people who had to move out of my way.

In the end, I did make my flight, I did get the boxes back to Salt Lake and everything turned out fine. I will resell their contents and make enough money to do it all over again some other place and time.

But on the plane ride over, I had to laugh at how foolish I appeared to the dozens, if not hundreds of people who saw me man-handling all those boxes. I was a spectacle. I looked silly.

But I got the job done.

Naturally, I had to apply this thought to achievement.

When we travel, there is a huge chance that we may look very dumb. We have no idea where the terminal B is, we don’t know how the shuttle works, our rental car is lost in the sea of compacts in the parking lot, we have too much baggage, we didn’t put our luggage in the right compartment, the freeways make no sense, we can’t find our hotel key.

And on and on.

Though the travel industry does their best to accommodate our lack of knowledge by providing clear signs and services, there are still many confusing hurdles to overcome. Because we don’t know things, we have to wander, bumble and ask. In other words, we have to look dumb.

Whenever we need to get a hard thing accomplished, we will have to look dumb for awhile. We’ll have to ask how to do it. We’ll have to risk people yelling at us in front of others, talking us down and judging us. We have to risk people saying no to our pleas for help, we have to look like a puppy in the rain.

This idea ties to my last post on jealousy and courage. One of the chief reasons the thing we want is so hard to obtain is that others who want the same thing are simply not willing to look dumb.

If you want to practice the art of looking dumb, I suggest travelling to another place and trying to move around too many boxes. Or, simply go out and do something hard/strange/daring in front of many people.

After you do this, you will find that you got the job done, strengthened your blushing muscles and nothing seriously bad or permanently scarring happened to you.





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