Last night I was reading one of those articles in which people have posted tweets about various things. This article had as its subject, IQs and well, most of the people posting came across as either pompous asses or they didn’t read the tweet before they posted it.
The one that stands out most is the man who took one of those “IQ tests” through Facebook and proudly posted his results. I won’t embarrass him by telling you the number, but it was below the average American IQ. Still he bragged that his IQ put him in the top 77%. Then there was the guy (it’s always men who brag about this sort of thing) who claimed he was so intelligent, stating his IQ was 194, that he rarely had a conversation in which he had to actually use his brain. Right.
That article started me thinking about minds and people’s mindset generally. When I joined the Canadian army, they ran IQ tests and they determined that mine was such that they felt they could teach me something and assigned me to the Royal Canadian Engineers rather than an infantry regiment. I just say I’m as smart as I need to be.
Over the years I’ve lived in a couple of what, at the time were considered “company towns”, in that there was one major employer. Back in the early 1960s I lived in Oakville Ontario, the home of Ford Motors of Canada. Consequently the parents of many of my friends worked for Ford at various levels from the line to the front office. My parents bought me my first car during the time I lived there – an Oldsmobile. Both parents also drove GM products. The father of one of my good friends was an executive at Ford and he refused to let me park my Olds in his driveway.
Later in life, my partner and I bought our first house in Oshawa, the home of General Motors of Canada. At the time I worked for Toyota Canada and through an employee benefit was able to lease Toyotas at a very good price. These leases were always for either six months or 8,000 miles after which the vehicles were sold to dealers to be retailed as “company driven vehicles”. As a result I had many new Toyotas gracing my driveway over the years. After I left Toyota, we bought several vehicles over the years – usually Fords. I figured that having driven an Olds in Oakville, by owning Fords in Oshawa, I was just balancing the scales.
This is where the company town mindset comes into play yet again. On one occasion, I came home with yet another Ford product, a Mercury this time. My neighbours, who were both middle managers at GM happened to be in the drive the first time I brought this home.
She: I see you’re still driving foreign cars.
Him: at least its from the right continent this time.
Over time and the during the layoffs of the 80s I took a series of small jobs, but the income was enough to qualify us to buy a new Ford Aerostar van. Loved that van since it was one of the few vans available with a manual transmission. To make ends meet I began working with a friend in his courier business, mainly drug store deliveries. On one occasion, I pulled into a driveway in the south part of town only to have the man who answered the door tell me to get my piece of crap out of his driveway. When I told him fine, he could pick up his prescription at the store the following afternoon, he changed his mind. Every so often the medical office at the GM main plant would need to order something special, which on one occasion was live anthrax vaccine, from the largest drug store chain in town. I made that my first delivery. For some reason these deliveries were always on the morning run. Most of the time I’d take a few minutes to wash the van just before going into the complex. I mean we can’t have a dirty Ford rolling around the GM complex now, can we. But on that occasion I didn’t bother. I just wanted that stuff out of my van.
Perhaps the scariest example of the company mindset though was this one. I was helping some friends run a yard sale. Among the things they had were two used tires with plenty of tread left. Sure enough, some man saw them and after examining them said “these are perfect for my Impala”. My friend said to this man “Im not sure they’d fit your Impala because they’re off a Ford.” The man agreed and didn’t buy them on that basis. People! These are tires, manufactured by a company that makes tires in various sizes for various vehicles. They are not some specialty item such as rims where the bolt pattern may be slightly different or the holes a different size. A lost sale because both men were GM employees who couldn’t wrap their minds around the fact tires are made to fit all vehicles. That’s the reason there are standard sizes.
Yes, there are times when having a company mentality can help and as I’ve just shown, there are times when it can be a detriment.
And as for the first part of this post, if you have to use a number assigned after an IQ test as a weapon with which to bludgeon other people, perhaps you’re not as smart as you claim.