Stupid Is As Stupid Does

This past week, we went to an amusement park in Pennsylvania which brought to mind a previous trip to Wet ‘N Wild, the Carolina’s largest water park located in Greensboro. Theme parks typically have attractions to accommodate all levels of experience and Wet ‘N Wild is no different. From an economics standpoint, I ride them all but as a man guided by testosterone, my favorite are the most adventurous. Therefore, it is no surprise that I would close out the day in line for one of my favorites, the “Pirate’s Plunge.” You begin by thrusting yourself down a cable suspended about 15 feet above the water and then free fall into water 8 feet deep. The swim back to the edge of the pool is probably about 30 feet. The sign reading “Expert Swimmers Only” is fitting, indicating that this is not for the faint at heart, or at least not for the average swimmer.

Unfortunately, the gentleman in line in front of me did not heed these wise words, or mine for that matter. I overheard the young twenty-something male discussing with a friend his strategy to experience this thrill while trying to avoid its risk. It seemed his intention was to avoid deep water at all cost. Myself having taken this plunge before, I knew that the lifeguards would only let you ride the cable so far before “whistling” you down. A stopper on the cable limits you from entering dangerously shallow water anyway. In order to save this man from an uncertain destiny, I felt compelled to share this. Though by all appearances he would seem to be a man’s man demonstrating a muscular physique and tattooed arms, he admits to not being able to swim. In a moment of clarity, albeit brief, he dismissed himself from the line.

Eventually it became my turn, I took the handles, traversed the water, made my splash, and swam successfully to the side as I have so many times before. While exiting the pool, I noticed something peculiar. This man, who minutes earlier confessed his lack of swimming ability, is now back in line and about to try his luck. As he glides down the cable, the limiting device that I warned him of earlier stops him suddenly. Perched over the water at a depth of 8 feet, he holds on momentarily in an effort to contemplate his situation. With no escape options available, he lets go. After brief submersion, his head surfaces as he splashes frantically to keep afloat. His face is panic-stricken as he realizes the ineffectiveness of his efforts. Although it may have seemed like hours to him, only seconds passed before he was commandeered and rescued by a lifeguard.

Comically, my first thought was “stupid is as stupid does” – words made famous by Forrest Gump. Despite multiple warnings and his obvious inability to swim, he tried it anyway. He would likely say he acted out of courage but I would say he acted out of foolishness.

On the other hand, I think about the many other people at the park who would have the swimming skills necessary to conquer “The Plunge” but did not or would not even attempt it. Is that you? Perhaps this too is acting out of foolishness instead of courage. Do you have some unused skills but lack the desire, will power, or courage to put them to good use? Are you waiting for your ship to come in when you have both the ability and inclination to take the “plunge” and swim out to it? Oftentimes it is these skills, your niche, that will help you excel, whether that means landing you a raise or promotion or just making life or work more satisfying. And who wouldn’t want that? Don’t let “Aquaman” show you up, take the plunge; use your special talents to get noticed.

Note: The Pirate’s Plunge ride has since been closed.

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