My wife and I made plenty of irrational decisions in our lives. For example, moving to Nashville, or trying to convince Miami drivers to signal. But once we make irrational decisions, we deal with them very competently. In contrast, there are plenty of people who handle any decision, rational or irrational, most incompetently. Due to our Seasonal Irrational Decision Disorder (SIDD), Ora and I encountered many of these people this summer.
It all started when we decided to help our son and his wife move to a better place in New York City. That would allow our son and his wife to finally leave the ridiculously expensive and ludicrously small rental they were sharing with some insects in the Lower East Side. My competent wife Ora turned her office at home in Miami into logistics central and handled most aspects of the move. She ably dealt with real estate agents, contractors, movers, and utility companies. I pitched in by calling the cable company in New York. This is a company that starts with V and rhymes with horizon, but I am afraid to identify it due to fear of reprisals.
To make life easier, I put on automatic payment everything: car lease, credit card, Comcast, AT&T, life insurance, pool service, condo fees, bribes to city officials, everything. So it was only natural that I would want to do the same with Verizon (Oops). I clicked on one of the 17 emails I had received from them to set up automatic pay. After I completed the registration process for a new user, it told me that I already had an online account, which I never set up. As a good detective, I thought that the system perhaps still linked the new account number to the old account number, which was in our son’s name, so I asked our son for his username and password, which he provided, which Verizon (what the heck), rejected. What followed was a Kafkaesque interminable loop of the system asking me security questions:
· Name of my elementary school
· Name of my first pet
· My mother’s maiden name
· Year in which the Ottoman empire was founded by Oghuz Turks
Once I entered what I thought were correct answers, I eagerly waited for the system to send me the username or password, but no, instead, I kept getting messages, in large red font, to the effect that: “the combination of your email, answers, or attitude is incorrect.” The cortisol I secreted during this episode was enough to create a nuclear stress bomb, which I plan to detonate next time a Verizon rep says “is there anything else we can do for you today.” But wait, once I solved the automatic pay problem I had to contend with incompetent technicians who had to come to the new place no less than four times to get the internet to work.
But before all of this took place, Ora and I had to get to New York from Miami, which of course entailed a stop at MIA. This is where irrational and incompetent blended seamlessly and deliciously. After we obtained our boarding passes and sent our luggage we headed for security. But before you meet a TSA agent, you must show your boarding passes to an official directing traffic at the security lines. One line was for TSA pre-check passengers, one for wheelchair users, and one for the masses. Ora was both TSA pre-check and wheelchair user, which completely puzzled the lady directing traffic. I couldn’t tell whether her decision was irrational, incompetent, or both, but she sent Ora to the TSA pre-check, which had a very long line up, almost as long as the regular line. Given that Ora goes through a special search anyways because she uses a scooter, I could not understand the logic behind sending us to a long line up when the wheelchair line was completely empty. When I approached her and asked if we could use the wheelchair line, she said that we are TSA pre-check, to which I replied that my wife also uses a scooter and it would be much faster to go through a line that was empty. She seemed confused but eventually let us use the wheelchair line.
It is possible that there is some logic behind her decision that completely escapes me, so before I turn into a complete judgmental tool, let’s explore her thinking. Some options for her reasoning:
1. “I’m facing two people. Both with TSA pre-check, but only one with wheelchair. Two is bigger than one, so I need to send them to the pre-check line.” Somewhat rational, but incompetent.
2. “One is in a wheelchair, but both have TSA pre-check. The line for pre-check is long; the line for wheelchairs is empty. I will send them to pre-check.” Irrational, incompetent, and, of course, Anti-Semitic.
3. “The lady uses a scooter. The line for wheelchairs is empty. She cannot use her pre-check anyways because she goes through a special search. She will be better off going through the wheelchair line. But since she lives in Miami, she is probably faking her disability, like most people in Miami, just to get a handicap parking permit, like my aunt Sofia, my cousin Lourdes, and my uncle Panchito. I bet a hundred dollars that she is faking the disability. In fact, she reminds me of my aunt Sofia. Oh, poor auntie Sofia. I feel for her, but she is such a liar. I will show this Prilleltensky couple! Pre-check.”