“You’d Have to Be an Idiot,” He Said (2000)

Anyone who mistakenly punches the wrong ballot hole must be a moron. Right?

I WAS DISCUSSING the 2000 Presidential election with a Republican friend. This guy has been certified to be an Intelligent Voter, so he must know what he’s talking about. Here’e his take on the voters in Florida who claim they were befuddled by the butterfly ballot:

Only a senile senior or an idiot could be duped by a simple ballot—never mind that the ballot violates the most elementary design rules taught in Usability 101. Of course, if I were one of the disenfranchised thousands, I’d have the decency to shrug, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

cartoon of a woman shredding a paper in frustration

cartoon of a woman shredding a paper in frustration

Anyone who claims they mistakenly punched “Buchanan” for Gore either can’t spell, is lying, or didn’t care much about who sits in the Oval Office. Newscasts showing voters sobbing outside the polling stations? Hel-lo: Florida = alligators = crocodile tears.

I’m so much smarter than those Palm Beach morons that when filling out a form, I’ve never…

  • printed my name, address, or phone number one line above the correct block,
  • written my signature after Name: _____, then noticed, below it, Signature: ____.
  • printed the current year for my Year of Birth.

I’ve never tried to pull a glass door labeled PUSH.

a pair of PUSH doors with PULL handles

a pair of PUSH doors with PULL handles

I’ve never become confused by instructions when trying to…

  • fill out my IRS Form 1040,
  • assemble a piece of furniture,
  • program a VCR,
  • set a digital watch,
  • withdraw cash from a new ATM,
  • scan my debit card in the checkout line,
  • pump gas, or
  • learn software. (If I did, I’d find my problem listed alphabetically under Help… )

a confusing gasoline pump

a confusing gasoline pump

At work, I never have difficulty…

  • following the arrows in the copier or printer to locate and clear a jam,
  • stepping up to an unfamiliar fax machine and figuring out which buttons to press, or
  • deciphering my telephone’s buttons to transfer a call.
a line drawing of an office telephone with a bewildering array of controls

a line drawing of an office telephone with a bewildering array of controls

When I was in school, I never…

  • faced a multiple-choice question for which there clearly were two correct answers, or
  • found a teacher’s test instructions confusing. If I had, I’d have gladly humiliated myself by publicly announcing, “I don’t get it.” Wouldn’t everyone?

When listening to the spoken word, I never…

  • need to ask someone what she meant by “that one” or “over there,”
  • mistake their for there or they're, or
  • mishear the lyrics of a song.

Behind the wheel, I’ve never been…

  • perplexed by the controls in a rental car, 
  • bewildered by directions on an invitation, or
  • unsure how to interpret a stranger’s directions, or
  • misled by a road sign.
a road sign whose arrows conflict with the words

a road sign whose arrows conflict with the words

© 2000 Paul Franklin Stregevsky

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