I assume that I am of average intelligence. I think this is because of the people I surround myself with. I feel like with my family and friends (both IRL and online), I can hold my own. But I think I fail to appreciate that we’re actually a smart bunch. And I don’t just mean over-educated (though there’s a lot of that in my family). My dad is one of the smartest people I know, and he never went to college. That’s not an anomaly among the smart people I know. I know that you don’t have to go to college to be smart and you don’t have to be smart to go to college.
Sometimes someone will accuse me of doing something that I think is unbelievably stupid, and I’ll get offended. I’ll wonder why it is that they will think that I would do something that moronic. Example: while I was in law school, my laptop sucked. I had so many problems with it. I had the motherboard replaced at least three times and countless other problems until the company eventually replaced my computer and recalled the model. Once while I was waiting for a tech to come to repair my fried motherboard, a friend and her friend were in the lounge with me. I was talking to them about the problem with my computer using a lesson that our contracts professor had taught us: he taught us about the warranty of merchantability by singing “These Boots are Made for Walking.” My computer was not made for computing.
So my friend’s friend asked if he could take a look. He used to work in a call center or something, so maybe he could help. I said, no really, it does not compute. It just kind of sits there like a decorative plate. It doesn’t do anything. But he, I just wanting to be helpful, insisted, so I brought my laptop down from my locker and gave it to him,
He opened up and tried to turn it on. As I said, my computer had a fried motherboard and other problems. It wouldn’t turn on. So he turns to me and says “well, it needs power!” Like he had solved the problem.
At that point, I was so shocked that he would think I would be so stupid as to not know that computers need power. That’s pretty insulting. I was his peer in a top tier law school. I was in study groups with him. Did he really think I was that stupid? So I closed my computer and left to put it back in my locker. When I came back down, he said how rude I was and that I shouldn’t treat people like that. I said nothing about how insulting it was to be accused of not understanding the very basics of electricity.
I’ve come to realize that he probably didn’t think I was a moron. He probably, like me, assumed that I was of average intelligence, like he probably assumed about himself. He probably wouldn’t have studied with me if he thought I was a moron.
I realized this when, a few years later, there was a power outage at our school. He and I both volunteered in the law clinic, which was in the law building but you had to swipe your ID to get in for security (there was a DV clinic there). So, during the power outage, I go to try to get in the clinic, thinking that since the power is out, I’ll have to knock and have someone let me in.
But I see him there trying to swipe his ID card. He’s doing it over and over again and nothing happens until someone finally lets him in. Meanwhile, I’m biting my tongue to keep myself from saying “well, it needs power!”
So now, when someone accuses me of doing something unbelievably stupid, I’ll smile to myself knowing that he just said a lot more about his own intelligence than mine.