Death by Do-GooderOpinion
Some of you may recall that, about a year ago, my son Leret and I made a trip up north to visit Yellowstone National Park and Stupid People Destination. They had to change the name due to national Truth in Advertising laws. The new name narrowly edged out runner-up: Yellowstone National ‘That Road Is Closed’ Park. It was a tough call, but I think the NPS made the right choice.
For the record, I’m big on National Parks. I’ve been to several of them, and even with all the silly rules, such as ‘Don’t shoot at other peoples’ tents after 8 p.m.,’ they’re generally a lot of fun, as long as you don’t mind camping right next to other people. When I was growing up, my folks took me and my brother camping some, but we always went on private property, on account of the parks always charged a fee. My dad was not opposed to fees, per se; he was just opposed to paying them. New Hampshire’s state motto fit my dad right down to his socks.
But for some folks, who aren’t too tight to get a comb through their hair, state and national parks are a good option for camping. And for some reason, maybe by accident, it seems that some of the prettiest country in the country is found in the parks. Yosemite is fantastic, even though it’s inconveniently located among a lot of strange people. Yellowstone is situated mostly in Wyoming, where the people are normal, but it attracts the usual lineup of yahoos, knuckleheads, knotheads, and dingbats. You really don’t want to go to Yellowstone without your dumbrella.
While Leret and I were there, we personally witnessed about 50 percent of the stupidity in America, and we weren’t even looking for it. People come there from all over to gawk at the mountains and rivers and wildlife, and they evidently leave every last shred of their common sense at home. Assuming they had any to leave home to begin with.
Human/animal interaction is apparently a new thing for a lot of these people, and many of them seem to be under the impression that the animals are tame because they’re in a park. Or maybe, they just think all animals are tame, and you can just walk right up to, say, a bear, and pet him. And he’ll purr like a cat, or something. These people seem to believe this right up to the point where the bear says grace and tucks his napkin under his chin.
What’s amazing is that these tourons (tourist + moron) persist in their ignorance, despite numerous large, clearly worded signs that say things like, ‘Stay Away From The Animals,’ and, ‘The Animals Are Not Tame,’ and, ‘The Animals Will Eat You And Get Indigestion,’ and, ‘You Are An Idiot.’ These signs are universally ignored. I think most of the park visitors see the signs, and read them, and understand them, and believe they are entirely accurate descriptions of the animals. They just don’t think the signs apply to THEM.
The most common Stupid Person pastime in Yellowstone is the time-honored Getting Close To A Buffalo For A Picture faux pas. The problem is that a lot of people get away with this, and other people see that, so they try it, too. Sooner or later, the buffalo decides to see what a touron looks like disassembled, and then the park people have to fill out a lot of forms.
But some Yellowstone Yahoos recently went above and beyond the call of stupidity when they came upon a buffalo calf and decided it was cold and in danger of dying. So they loaded it up in their SUV and took it to a ranger station, demanding that Something Be Done. They meant well, these tourons, it’s just that they obtained all their outdoor knowledge from watching old reruns of Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.
The park rangers made them take the calf back and turn it loose where they found it; and gave them a ticket. And tried, no doubt unsuccessfully, to explain to them that they were a lot dumber than the buffalo.
But it was too late. The buffalo mother refused to take her calf back because it had been in a touron SUV, and she was afraid it might be infected with the dinglebrain disease, which it might have been.
I’ve heard of ranchers getting a cow to take a calf that isn’t hers by spraying the calf down with hairspray, and then spraying the cow’s nose with it. This usually works, but I guess none of the rangers wanted to spray the buffalo cow’s nose with hairspray. And I don’t blame them. The sad thing is that they ended up killing the calf.
There’s a moral to this story, which I will not even bother to write down. Those who would understand it already do, and for those who wouldn’t, writing it won’t help. Bill Murray supposedly said, “It’s hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’s almost impossible to win an argument with an idiot.”
That goes double in Yellowstone . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who brought home an actual, genuine, bonafide buffalo patty from Yellowstone. Write to him at [email protected].