Not Very Bright


When I work in the parking lot, I’m confronted with plenty of people who don’t seem very bright. Sometimes I think people could figure out the answers to their own questions if they just thought about the situation a little harder. I try to stay patient and upbeat and helpful, but honestly, I’m losing faith in the intelligence of humanity.

This season, the question I’m getting again and again (and we’re only a few weeks into the season) is some variation of Why are so many trees dead? (sometimes phrased as Why are so many trees brown? or Why have so many trees been cut down?) It’s as if people haven’t heard California has been suffering from a multi-year drought. Sure, someone from Des Moines or Frankfurt may not know anything about the weather woes of California, but percentages tell me that some of the people who are asking these questions live in the Golden State.

One day a man asked me why so many trees were dead, and I said, Drought. California’s been suffering from a drought for several years.

My co-worker looked at the man and said, Do you live in California?

The man shrugged and said, I live in Orange County, as if the drought had nothing to do with him.

I guess as long as water’s flowing from the tap, the drought isn’t real to some people.

Last weekend, one of the other people on the payroll of the company I work for was lamenting the drought. He said, In six years, there’s not even going to be a mountain because all of the trees will be dead.

I think the mountain will still be here, even if the trees are dead, I told him.

Later in the day, a grown man wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle t-shirt asked why so many trees were dead.

I said, The drought.

He asked (in what seemed to be complete seriousness), Does the drought pick out trees to kill? as if the drought were a sentient being with love for some trees and a vendetta for others.

I was pretty much flabbergasted and at a loss for words. How to even begin to answer such a question? Other visitors were vying for my attention (money to collect! restrooms to point out!), and I ended up telling the guy that some trees were stronger and better able to withstand the drought. You know, survival of the fittest and all of that, I told him. I’m not sure if that tidbit of information helped him.

The last perplexing question I received that day (from yet another grown man) came after he asked me if the trail he was about to visit were the only place sequoias grow. I explained about the range where the tree reproduce naturally (on the Western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains) and then he said, Why are the sequoias extinct?

I blinked my eyes once, twice, three times and said, But they’re not extinct. There’s one growing right there, as I pointed to the tall, tall tree towering over the others.

It turned out he thought the trees were dying out because they only grow in a limited area. (Maybe he doesn’t know what extinct means? Maybe he meant endangered?)

I explained that no one know why sequoias only grow in a limited area, that this is one of the  great mysteries of the trees.

I pray to the universe to grant me patience.

I took this photo of a dead ponderosa pine. It has a pink ribbon around its trunk and is slated to be felled.

I took this photo of a dead ponderosa pine. It has a pink ribbon around its trunk and is slated to be felled.


About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

8 Responses »

  1. I enjoy your commentary. You are a funny writer. If I do campground hosting someday I will be much better prepared for the job as the result of reading your blog regularly. Thank you.

    • I’m thankful for the patience of strangers too. That’s one of the reasons I want to be a patient stranger.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Duck.

  2. Gotta have patience! 😀 I’m always amazed when we go into a national park visitor center and see a long line of people waiting to ask the ranger questions. They’ll stand in line for 30 minutes when they could be out enjoying the park. It’s right there, outside the door, just go out and see it!
    Maybe they just want a little personal attention so they think up questions, no matter how stupid. 😀

    • You are so right that people want personal attention! We are a society filled with people who apparently did not receive enough attention from their parents. So many of the people I run into seem to just want to be noticed.

      A related phenomenon is the person who asks a question, then does not receive the answer s/he wants, so asks the question again. I want to say, “I’m not going to change my answer just to please you!”

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Actually, a lot of this stupidity is due to our extremely poor educational system. We have the most expensive educational system in the WORLD, and the worst for results. Many countries have a 99% literacy rate. Our is 84 or 87% of all the countries in the world, at the bottom of the list for industrialized countries.

    That’s no accident. Younger people today are fantastically ignorant. They don’t know who Thomas Jefferson is. They’ve never heard of the Vietnam War. Close to half are functionally illiterate, which is why so much stuff online is video-only. People who do write for companies and news media don’t know the difference between site/sight, accept/except, seen/scene, advice/advise, bale/bail, bite/byte, cash/cache, etc.

    Have you seen any of those videos where a guy is stopping people and asking questions? One question was “Can you name a country in the world that starts with U?” Most couldn’t come up with any (Ukraine, Uruguay, or UNITED STATES OF AMERICA). They don’t know what the Fourth of July represents.

    My best friend has an IQ of 152. Her nephew’s girlfriend asked if she could send her the thesis that she was turning in for her college degree and make any corrections that were necessary. My friend received it (e-mail) only two days before it was due to be turned it. She started reading it, and nearly fell off her chair. It was awful! Misspellings, totally wrong word usage, no cohesive thought pattern, etc. All there was the time to do was correct the misspellings and basic mistakes, and she sent it back, telling her sister that the young woman was going to fail. Well, she didn’t. SHE GOT AN ‘A’!

    But that’s what America has been producing for some years now, ignorant, obnoxious brats. Spoiled. Stupid. Catered to and over-protected. They’ve never been taught to think. They can’t add two facts and come up with a conclusion. They are totally unable to understand the concept of cause and effect. They think because they want it, they’ll get it.

    People from other countries think Americans are morons. And it’s true.

    Many years ago, a fellow told me that an ignorant population is easier to control than an educated one.


  4. loll, I would say the universe already answered your prayer for patience…by sending you those people to develop it 😉 But it’s also very true that the level of ignorance of average joe, in USA and it’s the case also here in Canada, is tragic but not suprising since more than 90% of people never open a real book on any subject after school years… 🙁 Unfortunately, it’s true that an ignorant population is easier to control than an educated one, so politicians often apply the roman formula of Julius Cesar: give them only bread and games… too many are satisfy by that as we see it daily… but, rejoice also because I see more people awakening to this nonsense than before, there is still hope! 🙂

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