I sometimes watch Judge Judy reruns with the woman I help care for, and boy is that an eyeopener! I know that the cases are chosen specifically because of the bizarre nature of either the problem or the people involved, so I try not to let that interfere with my concept of the world today, or rather my concept of the people in the world. (I already have a poor opinion of people in general, though individually, I like people just fine.) Still, I can’t help but be appalled by people and their behavior. It makes me wonder if, despite the already low regard I have for them, I have greatly overestimated the intelligence and integrity of humanity.
But, as I said, I try not to extrapolate any greater meaning from this small segment of the human population.
What is an eyeopener, however, is how often people who are in the wrong will sue their victim. It’s not as if they are trying to scam the person — they truly seem to believe as if they have right on their side. Several times, people who have tried to cheat the system by getting childcare costs or elder care costs they didn’t really qualify for will sue their accomplice for not turning over their share of the funds. (In a couple of cases, the defendant applied to be a certain person’s caregiver, even though they weren’t going to be doing the job, and the litigant wanted their share of the money.) Sometimes, a person who is getting childcare from the other parent of their child even though they share joint custody (in which case, neither parent should have to pay the other) will sue for additional funds. Or someone who is driving without insurance and who makes an illegal turn will sue the person with the right of way who ran into them so they can get the money to fix their uninsured car.
What interests me from a writer’s point of view, is the total belief in the rightness of their cause. I don’t often see this in books — too often antagonists make excuses to themselves (and eventually to the cops who catch them) for their behavior. If they truly believed they were in the right, they wouldn’t need to justify their actions. They would simply know they were the victim. (Even burglars who get shot at when breaking into a house don’t deny their crime; they just believe there shouldn’t have been any repercussions.) Every time I watch this behavior — the belief of the wrongdoer that they are the rightdoer — I remind myself to use this for a character in my next book (whenever that might be).
Another eyeopener is the constant and ubiquitous use of “had.” For example, “I had went to the store.” If all the “had”s were edited out of the show, I’m sure the shows would be at least five minutes shorter. It’s surprising to me that while Judge Judy feels compelled to scold people for using fill words like “basically,” idioms like “like,” and bad grammar, she never mentions all the “had”s. I suppose she picks whatever most offends her at the time. Or whatever seems most rant-worthy.
What amuses me most are the obvious signs that people have been coached. People who use such constructions as “Basically, like I had went to the store” simply do not use words such as “property” when referring to their stuff or “altercation” when referring to a kerfuffle.
It also makes me laugh to think that humans named themselves “homo sapiens sapiens” when there seemingly is so little sapience involved in human interactions. A better term, perhaps, especially after watching the people who come before Judge Judy, would be “homo unsapiens.”
What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?
A fun book for not-so-fun times.
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