Unfair assumption #29: Football fans are more effective in emergencies

As we left the house last night, our 19 year-old babysitter was settling in to watch the end of the Atlanta Falcons - Seattle Seahawks playoff game.

She'd been watching the first half of the game at home before coming over.   

When I arrived home from the show five hours later, she was sitting in the living room, watching the Patriots - Texans playoff game. She was kind enough to turn the game off as I entered the house so I could watch it on tape delay (after ensuring that her father was recording it at home as well), but still, she was watching intently when I walked in the door.

Just so we are clear: She watched NFL football on her own for almost the entire time that I was gone.

I know it's entirely unfair to assume anything based upon her viewing preferences, but if the house suddenly caught fire, a bear clawed its way into our home, or the Russians invaded our town Red Dawn style, I can't help but think that this 19 year-old woman would handle the situation with ease.

Or at least more competently than the babysitter who spends the evening watching the Kardashians or The Family Feud.  

An unfair assumption to be sure, but it's a gut feeling that I can't help but think is at least a little bit true.  

When I explained my assumption to Elysha, she informed me that our babysitter is also attending Harvard University and is home on break.

Perhaps my gut instincts are more accurate than previously thought. 

Unfair assumption #28: Parents who threaten to disown their children based upon their marital choices are the lowest form of human life.

You know these people.

These are the parents who will refuse to attend their child's wedding and sometimes disown a son or daughter for failing to marry someone who shares their religious belief, racial composition, socioeconomic standing, national or cultural origin, or does not conform to their heteronormative expectations of marriage.

They are the despicable cretins who think that their assumptions about who their child should fall in love with and marry should have any bearing on their child's actual life or future. 

In many cases, these misguided parents lose their sons and daughter for years (or lifetimes) over this ridiculous nonsense.

Even worse, their child may miss out on the possible love of their life when they inexplicably conform to their parents' selfish tribal wishes.

Credit people like my in-laws, who didn't bat an eye when my wife - their Jewish daughter - agreed to marry me, a former Christian-turned reluctant atheist. Instead, they embraced me like a son and have stood by my side ever since.

Many parents would have made Elysha's life exceedingly difficult for marrying outside the religion. I know people in circumstances like these. I also have gay friends who have experienced similar exclusion from their parents, and I know people who were only permitted to marry a person from the same country of origin.

I will be forever grateful to my in-laws - Barbara and Gerry - for their rational, loving, open-minded, unquestioning acceptance of me and our relationship. 

I know that to most people, my in-laws acceptance and embrace of me this seems like a no-brainer. The only reasonable reaction to our engagement and marriage. But I know that in many cases, across many dividing lines, parents are oftentimes less than reasonable, incredibly selfish, and sometimes downright disgusting in situations like this. 

Unfair assumption #27: People who object to mothers breast-feeding in public are freakish, worthless prudes and more

It's crazy that some people - mostly men - object to women breastfeeding in public.

Some of these people are downright despicable about it, making passive-aggressive comments to these mothers or aggressively chastising them for exposing some or all of their breast.

Their objections are inappropriate. Disgusting. Sexist. Stupid. Narrow minded. Ignorant. Inane, Cruel.

None of those are unfair assumptions. They are simply facts.

But it's perhaps unfair to assume that the people who object to public breast feeding are small minded ignoramuses. Mealy-mouthed twits. Unlovable cretins. Stupid, friendless losers. Creepy slime balls. Worthless bags of beaver dung. 

One or two of those might be unfair. Maybe.        

Unfair assumption: The more you have on your business card, the less I think about your professional ability

When you hand me your business card, I expect to see your name and your contact information.

That's it. That is the purpose of a business card. It serves as a reminder of your name and a means by which to contact you.  

If your business card is glossy and contains an image of you or anything else other than your contact info, I can't help but think that you don't know what you're doing.

That you're trying way too hard.

That you lack savvy and professionalism. 

This rule applies to musicians, actors, authors, and other performers, who seem to specialize in the glossy color photo business card.  

This is the one exception, of course.

Unfair assumption: Leaders who park in their privileged parking spots don't get it

You become manager, CEO, Superintendent, team leader, department head, or the like. As one of the perks to your new position, you are assigned a preferred parking spot, presumably closer to the building than the rest of the spots in the parking lot and perhaps even labeled. 

And then, rather than offering the parking spot to an employee with mobility issues, or raffling your spot off each month at a staff meeting, or awarding the spot to your best performer, you actually park your car in the parking spot.

This is a clear signal that you don't get it.

A preferred parking spot is an opportunity for a boss to demonstrate a certain level of decency, camaraderie, kindness, generosity, and appreciation by forgoing the parking spot at almost no cost to themselves and impressing employees in the process.

In fact, the only cost of giving away the spot is steps. That's it. The boss will have to take extra steps each day to enter the building. A little additional exercise in exchange for an enormous amount of goodwill and appreciation.

It's a no brainer. It's the reason preferred parking spots exist. They were meant to be given away.

I have been awarded the privilege of a preferred parking spot twice in my life. Both spots were labeled with the sign. Even though I was young and fairly inexperienced at the time, I knew that there was no way in hell I was going to park my car in either those spots. In both cases, I gave my spot away on a monthly basis and garnered an enormous amount of goodwill and appreciation in the process.

Even better, in one of those situations, three other people were also awarded parking spots, and they used their spots rather than giving them away. Needless to say I enjoyed much more support from my employees than my fellow managers, for many reasons, I suspect), but this parking spot was a clear indicator of how I felt about my employees in comparison to my fellow managers.

It was great for me and terrible for them.

Frankly, I don't know how a person with preferred parking spots doesn't feel like a complete ass when they park their car in their spot. No person in any company or business is so important as to need to park closer to the building. Anyone who thinks they are important enough to require a preferred parking spot should not be in a leadership position.

Let your employees know you care by allowing them to park closer to the building. Take a hundred extra steps each day. It'll be good for you, both in terms of your health and your career.

Otherwise, I am going to assume that you don't get it.

Unfairly, perhaps, but I also won't be alone in my opinion.

Unfair assumption #24: Your knowledge of the Supreme Court says a lot about you.

If you can name all nine Supreme Court justices, I consider you well informed and worthy of attention. I will listen and consider all that you say. 

For every justice you cannot name, I will think slightly less of your knowledge base, and therefore your opinions carry proportionally less weight with me.

If you forget Stephen Breyer, you may not be penalized at all. Everyone forgets that guy. 

If you can't name a single justice on the Supreme Court, I discount most of what you say, at least when it comes to politics and current events, and perhaps in other arenas as well.

If you don't know that there are typically nine justices on the Supreme Court, forget it. You might as well not speak to me unless it's about the weather. 

If this seems harsh, I agree. It probably is. Remember: I have acknowledged that this is an unfair assumption.

You're also not alone if your knowledge of the Supreme Court is lacking. In a recent Pew poll, only 39% of Americans were aware that there are typically nine justices on the Court, and two-thirds of Americans can't name a single justice.

Not one.  

Even worse, a poll released in January 2016 fielded by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni showed that about 10 percent of college graduates believed TV’s Judith Sheindlin (aka Judge Judy) is on the United States Supreme Court. 

People are so stupid.

Unfair assumption #23: People who water their lawns themselves are aggressively anti-efficient and supremely uninteresting

I see it all the time. Some doofus standing on his lawn, hose in hand, watering his grass. 

Just standing there, waving his arm back and forth, spraying water on his lawn. 

Home Depot currently sells a sprinkler for $4.98. More sophisticated sprinklers can be purchased for more.

I can only assume (perhaps unfairly) that these people - almost always men - have such sad and uninteresting lives that this is the best thing that they can find to fill their time, because there is no way in hell that anyone should be standing on their lawn, watering their grass by hand. 

Something is wrong with these people.   

Unfair assumption #22: People who come from privilege who criticize those who don't come from privilege for their economic circumstances are stupid douchebags

You know the type. This is the person who complains about his or her taxes going to someone on unemployment or welfare or say things like, "Why doesn't that guy just get a job?" or "Why would someone spend their whole life in such a dead end career?" when their entire life has essentially been a gift from their parents.

They grew up in economic security. Never been hungry a day in their life. Always had the right clothes and shoes. Had books in the home. Went to summer camps and swim lessons. Didn't need to work 20 or 30 or 40 hours a week in high school to help pay the bills or save for college tuition. Probably didn't buy their first car on their own. Parents paid for most or all of their college tuition. They've always had a home to return to in times of trouble. A place to run in an emergency. Maybe even been bailed out of a jam or received an interest free loan from a parent in the past. They might work for their parent's company or been hired by a relative or a friend of the family. 

They have been blessed by parents who have ensured their economic security, and yet for reasons that I will never understand, they fail to see how fortunate they are.

It's convenient, short-sighted, and stupid to judge the economic position of another person when you might've failed things in your life and still fallen ass-backward into relative economic security. You could blow up your life again and again and still return home to food and shelter and maybe even a job. 

Many people of privilege fail spectacularly. They fail to make their dreams come true. They make terrible economic, marital, and employment decisions. They end up in trouble with the law. They find themselves incapacitated by illness.

Yet they still land on their feet thanks to privilege they did nothing to earn other than being born while those who are living without the same safety nets are doomed. If you are fortunate enough to come from privilege, you may have no understanding of the razor-thin margins that life has to offer. You can't imagine how easy it is to take one wrong step and be lost for years or decades or forever. You can't conceive how one economic setback or or serious illness or bad decision can send you spiraling.  

It demonstrates a disgusting level of self-centeredness and utter lack of empathy to point your finger at someone in trouble and criticize the government assistance that they are receiving when you have enjoyed the same welfare subsidies, unemployment benefits, and food stamps throughout your entire life - in the form of your parents. 

Please note that this is coming from someone who grew up poor and remained poor well after high school. I'm a person who was unemployed, unfairly jailed, homeless, tried for a crime I did not commit, and eventually put myself through college by working 40-60 hours a week while taking a full class load. I grew up as a child constantly hungry in a family on welfare and food stamps, but since leaving home at 18, I have never received any government assistance.

I have made it on my own.

It would be easy for me to criticize those who fail to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. 

Still, I would never criticize someone who needed or was receiving assistance. Even with my circumstances, I recognize my great fortune. I have been healthy throughout most of my life. I was able to work hard for long periods of time without tiring or losing hope. I was born with a mind that allowed me to excel in school even while working full time. There were moments in my life when friends stepped in and lifted me from possible disaster.  

I got lucky. A judge found me not guilty. A family of Jehovah's Witnesses opened their doors and got me off the street. A man with a gun didn't kill me when he had already killed others. Professors saw my potential and supported me. A principal gave me a chance. A community rose to support me. I married the perfect person.       

Why someone from privilege can't see these same things baffles me. Why they don't see their economic safety net, their ongoing parental support, the family company where they work, the college tuition they never paid, the downpayment on their home that they were gifted, and their lifelong good health for what it is - an unearned blessing - is beyond me. 

I can only (perhaps unfairly) assume that they are stupid douchebags. 

Unfair assumption #19: The desire for a specific postage stamp is a clear indication of the need for a life.

People who request specific stamps from post office tellers for reasons other than wedding invitations and the like (and even that is a little ridiculous) have far too much time on their hands and need to immediately begin volunteering in a homeless shelter.


Honestly, I don’t know how postal tellers don’t mock these people and their inane desire to affix just the right flag stamp or floral stamp or bird stamp on their overly-valued thank you notes or undervalued water bills.

These are the kind of people who also spend insane amounts of time in the grocery store choosing the specific geometric patterns on their paper plates and napkins and begin shopping for Christmas decorations in August.

Unfair assumption # 16: There is something seriously wrong with the intellect and/or self esteem of anyone who chooses to begin smoking today.

There is something seriously wrong with the intellect and/or self esteem of anyone who chooses to begin smoking today. Call me naïve, but I have never understood why anyone chooses to begin smoking anymore. The documented health risks, the social stigma, the high cost of cigarettes and the negative impact on one’s physical appearance all make the decision to begin smoking inexplicable to me.

I understand why my mother smoked. Her generation didn’t know any better. When she was born, well over half of Americans smoked, and warning labels did not appear until 1966. But even when I was growing up in the 1980s, it was abundantly clear that cigarettes killed people and the number of smokers in the world was rapidly declining.

Today about 17% of Americans smoke, down from 25% when I was a teenager. Since a nonsmoker is considerably less likely to date a smoker, the reduction in the dating pool alone should deter young people from smoking.

Yet every year, middle and high school students begin smoking.

Like I said, there has to be something wrong with these kids.


Either you lack the intellect required to understand simple cause and effect relationships or you lack the self esteem required to stand up to peers who lack the intellect to understand simple cause and effect relationships.

I can’t think of any other explanation. Either you’re an idiot or you’re powerless to the influence of idiots.

In the midst of writing this post, I found myself wondering if this unfair assumption has ever been tested.

Do smokers have lower IQ scores than nonsmokers? Are smokers dumber than nonsmokers.

It turns out that they are. Many studies have been done on the subject, and again and again, the findings have indicated that smokers tend to have lower IQ scores than nonsmokers. In addition, research shows that the more you smoke, the lower your IQ score.

It turns out that my unfair assumption isn’t so unfair after all. Smokers are dumber than nonsmokers.

The New York Times recently reported that the share of middle and high school students who are using e-cigarettes doubled in 2012 from the previous year. While e-cigarettes are presumably safer than traditional cigarettes, there is little research on the subject, and the dangers of nicotine addiction remain.

Not to mention you are forced to walk around with a plastic stick hanging out of your mouth.


There is no existing research on the IQ levels of people who smoke using e-cigarettes, but I think it’s safe (but perhaps unfair) to assume that a person who thinks it’s a good idea to stick a plastic, nicotine dispensing device into one’s mouth on a regular basis is probably not as smart as the one who chooses not to.

Call it a hunch.

Unfair assumption #15: Married couples who keep their finances separate are more likely to have seriously flawed, less fulfilling relationships.

Married couples who keep their finances separate are more likely to have seriously flawed, less fulfilling relationships. Also, as a compendium to the first unfair assumption comes this bonus unfair assumption:

As agreeable as a couple claims to be about their financial division, there is almost always one person in the relationship who is not entirely comfortable or happy with the arrangement.

Unfair assumptions? Yes. Of course. Hence the title of the post.

I’m sure that there are many couples who divide their finances and are perfectly happy.


But it’s also an assumption that I have been making for a long time and is now supported with research showing that the more a couple pools their money, the happier that marriage tends to be.

These effects seem to peter out at some very high level -- if you keep 5 percent of your income to yourself in order to have a little bit of discretionary spending, it won’t make you any less happy than you’d be if you pool 100 percent. But people who pool 80 percent are happier than those who pool 70 percent, and so on. People who keep it all to themselves are the least happy.

Always nice when science supports one of your harebrained ideas.

I actually feel bad for couples who don’t pool their money. Not only does this arrangement strike me as logistically insane and almost certain to cause resentment at some point in the marriage, but I believe that in most cases, it represents an underlying crack in what is supposed to be a unified, rock solid partnership.

You’re either in this thing together or you’re not.

Check that:

I don’t feel bad for the couples who don’t pool their money as much as I feel bad for the person in the marriage who secretly wishes that they would pool their money but has agreed not to. In my experience, it’s almost always the woman who laments the arrangement, and she is almost always a little sad and a little stressed by this financial division.

She may tell her spouse that she is not saddened. She may assure her spouse that she supports the arrangement fully. But behind closed doors, in the company of a friend and confidant who is not requiring her to maintain her own checking account, she frequently says otherwise.

Honestly, I have no idea how this division of finances even works. What if one spouse runs out of money? Or spends foolishly? Or loses his or her job through no fault of their own? What is one spouse suffers unexpected losses in the stock market or is sued after running over a little old lady’s dog?

Does he or she borrow money from their spouse?

Actually, I know of one instance in which this actually happened. A husband’s business was losing money, and he was suddenly unable to pay his half of the household expenses. Rather than being evicted from his home, he borrowed money from his wife, presumably interest free.

But if your borrowing money from your wife, why be married in the first place?

Unfair assumption? Yes. Absolutely.

But based upon my limited experience (and now a little bit of science), absolutely, positively true, too.

Unfair assumption #14: Any parent who leaves more than $5 under their child’s pillow in exchange for a tooth has lost their mind.

Any parent who  leaves more than $5 under their child’s pillow in exchange for a tooth has lost their mind. According to a recent survey, parents are leaving an average of $3.70 under their children’s pillows in exchange for their teeth.  That’s up 23% from last year and up 42% from two years ago.


Some parents are reportedly leaving as much as $50 under the pillow for each tooth.

If you’re leaving $50 under your child’s pillow for each tooth, someone should probably call DCF.

Frankly, I think that a dollar is more than sufficient, but I’m willing to accept $5 with the understanding that I still question your judgment.