Throughout human history, there have been countless cases of a small minority of people ruining something great for everyone else. We see it all the time, but there was one recent example that compelled me to write this post. It came about when a full-size, one ton pickup truck pulled up next to me at a red light. The truck was comically large and probably had enough towing power to transport the Statue of Liberty. A passenger in my car, who shall remain nameless, said, in reference to the truck, “He must be compensating for something.”
We all laughed at this comment, but it sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Just because this man drove an enormous pick up truck did not mean that he was using it to compensate for his lack of size or girth in other areas of his life. Maybe he just needed it for work, or he rented it to move some furniture into his new house. I felt bad for the man, and any other large pickup truck drivers who have been the subject of presumptuous claims about the correlation between automobile size and shortcomings regarding male genitalia. Sure there have probably been more than a few cases of Ford F-350 drivers who were anything but well-endowed using the trucks as a method of compensation, but does that mean that they should ruin it for everyone else?
This got me thinking about some other examples of perfectly good products and activities that we can’t utilize because people get the wrong idea. Allow me to share a few that I came up with…
The ski mask is a prime example of a practical invention being ruined by a few bad-apples. Growing up in Minnesota, I learned that cold weather is not something to be taken lightly. In December and January, THIS YEAR, I must have heard about 30 state-wide announcements warning citizens that if our skin is exposed outdoors for more than 14 seconds, the only way to save our lives is to immediately amputate our entire faces. Okay, kind of an exaggeration, but still, the winters here ain’t no joke.
Personally, I trudge through the streets of St. Paul wearing a winter hat, a jacket, a sweatshirt, gloves, glove-liners, long underwear, the warmest jeans I can find, wool socks and winter boots. And guess what America? I am still freezing my face off. Not a figure of speech, literally freezing my face off. Now, I know what you are thinking. Why don’t you just wear something that covers your face, like a ski mask? Well maybe it’s because, in this day and age, anyone who wears a ski mask is immediately presumed to be in the process of committing some type of heinous crime.
Think about it. When is the last time you saw a person wearing a full-face ski mask and they weren’t trying to rob, rape or murder somebody? I would love to have been able to wear one when I walked to class this winter, but unfortunately, the full-face ski mask’s reputation for protecting my skin from the violent Minnesota weather is preceded only by its reputation for effectively concealing my identity while I hold up a Super America. Don’t believe me? Wear a ski mask to work tomorrow and see what happens.
It is truly unfair that because of the choice of wardrobe in a few dozen bank robberies, I am faced with the choice of being profiled as a criminal, or stage-5 frostbite. I say during this winter’s polar vortex, we take back the full-face ski mask. Who’s with me, Midwest?
Conversion Vans are large vans, often used for commercial distribution, but are sometimes used by the public for standard transportation. The advantages of conversion vans include durability, seating capacity and ample room for cargo. You know them as rape vans. That’s all I am going to say about that.
Clowns are yet another example of a nice idea, gone horribly, horribly wrong. Dating all the way back to 2400 BC, clowning was done for the simple purpose of introducing some humor and joy to the otherwise miserable medieval existence. They were invented to take peoples’ minds of the fact that they were poor, sick, starving, and didn’t have 4G wireless internet access. Their sole intention was to spread joy, but somewhere along the way, they changed from a source of comedy to giving off sort of a psychopathic serial killer/ nightmarish-evil-monster cannibal type of vibe. I blame Stephen King.
For those of you who do not know what Chatroulette is, it is a website that pairs two users at random for a webcam-based conversation. At any point in the conversation either user can simply click “next” and will be paired with another user at random. I like to belief the purpose of the website was to overcome geographical or socioeconomic barriers and create friendships and love connections that would otherwise be unlikely. The random nature of the video chats allowed for people from all woks of life to converse with anyone else, anywhere, at any time… It was beautiful.
But, like most websites that are open to the public, Chatroulette was extremely susceptible to online sexual perversion. What was once an vitual melting pot of cultural diversity and social exploration, is now populated almost exclusively by deviant masturbaters. The result of this change in user base is that now, if you go on chatroulette, everyone automatically assumes you are a big weirdo.
Chainsaws, at least within the city limits, have picked up somewhat of a bad rep. The innovation of chainsaws is undeniable. The power and functionality of a chainsaw deserves a profound respect, even from those who know almost nothing about them (like me). I am sure that chainsaws have revolutionized the construction and the Lumberjacking industry (I don’t actually know if lumberjacking is the name for that industry,I am a naive city kid, but you get it.). The problem is that I unintentionally overlook the marvelous engineering and innovation that went into the invention of chainsaws, and immediately jump to murder weapon. This may just be a personal issue for me, but when I happen upon a person using a chainsaw, no matter the context, I assess the situation using the following check-down process of elimination.
1. Is this a serial killer? 2. Is this a crazy redneck? 3. Is this a crazy redneck serial killer? 4. Am I in Texas, and is this a chainsaw massacre? 5. Something about Tony Montana from Scarface. 6.Is this a law-abiding, tax-paying American, who is simply doing some type of construction or yard work?
See, the problem here is that despite all the good that chainsaws have done for the world, it only took a few bad apples to force me to reason passed five, dangerous, probably irrational, alternatives, before assuming the chainsaw user is just a regular, non-murderer, type person.