“Situational intelligence” =/= brains

Granted, this post is part road-rage vent. You can’t beat the public expression of a personal gripe. Gives it more power, more gusto, you feel as if you’re taking it to them even though, in reality, you’re just vomiting poison words which maybe three people are reading. So yes, this is partly a personal vent…but I also have an observation to share which transcends petty ego pissing matches.

Monday mornings are not that bad for me. Really. Assuming I’ve had a placid and relaxing weekend, I’m usually energized by the time Monday morning rolls around. You’re likely to find me in good spirits. Today was such a day. Halloween was over graciously early and I crashed about 10 last night. I was utterly exhausted. This morning, on the cusp of 7 hours sleep, I was in a positive state. Accomplished all my normal morning routines shortly before finding myself heading into Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. I tapped out the last of my cash at the gas station last night, so I decided to stop at a 7-11 on the outskirts of Hollywood and take the week’s cash out of the ATM (and if I play it right, maybe a week and a half’s worth). When I pulled into the parking lot, I decided I would park on the opposite side of the parking lot in order to expedite and ease the departure from this parking lot. Parking lots in Hollywood tend to be cramped and slightly dramatic due to the high volume of foot traffic and the tendency of many people to use Sunset’s third traffic lane as the freeway Express Lane. I spied a narrow spot and pointed my car towards it. My car happens to be very narrow and it’s not difficult to fit in the puniest spaces. The parking spot was bordered by two cars and being a very (I believe) smart driver, I eased into the spot super slowly. Common sense dictates that you don’t roar into an empty parking stall that has cars parked on both sides. As I pulled in, very damned slowly, my morning reverie was suddenly pierced by the sudden flinging open of a car door directly in my path which made me slam on my brakes. Since I was moving so slowly, there was no dramatic squealing, but for that moment all I could think was that my morning was now fucked because this would consume time and energy, trading insurance info, calling the police, etc. After my car stopped just short of the other car’s door, I saw the driver was a late-20’s/30ish woman, professionally coiffed, blonde and blue-eyed, the archetypal HBD Hope, a professional woman in a very smart car (a late-model Audi 4 series sedan) and she was talking on her fucking cell phone. She turned and looked and I gave my best “you dumbfuck cunt” eyeroll. Finally I motioned to her that I’d like to continue to park. Still on the phone, she got a clue and closed the door. I left the car, not bothering to behold her Anglo idiocy, and took my money out of 7-11’s ATM. When I returned to my car she was still parked, still on the phone, but at least the door was closed. The car, black and freshly cleaned, wore a license frame from a downtown L.A. Audi dealer. Undoubtedly a professional woman with a good head on her shoulders, attractive and good taste to boot. Based on my initial engagement with the idiot, I would venture to say she was the ideal HBD poster child. I doubt you’d find her at the local Hometown Buffet or free clinic.

As I drove away it occurred to me how astounding it was that an attractive and utterly professional and supposedly intelligent person could be conversely so utterly clueless of her environment.

And I thought of other typical “winners” of the HBD sweepstakes I see toiling about this grand city. Many of these trophy brains are complete and incontestable idiots when it comes to the road or other environments which test the skills of maneuvering personal space and personal locomotion through random and haphazard crowds and obstacles. There is a major disconnect. The brightest and most cerebrally able in this fine city are dolts once you draw them out of the boardroom or the classroom. What gives?

I thought about this brainiac chick who didn’t think to scour (or even glance at) her rear view mirror before flinging her car door open (which, incidentally, would be lying on the ground at that moment had I been equally stupid as she). My cold read was that she was a mid-level manager, a professional, undoubtedly degreed, probably working in the financial or legal sector. A woman who probably draws loads of admiration from her acquaintances for her smart woman existence. She and the powerful but subtle statement she makes with her smart 4-series German sedan. The woman was intelligent, I’m sure of it. But intelligence, as usual, confined to a fixed and controllable context, an intelligence which crumbles to borderline mental retardation when it is called upon in the piecemeal and unpredictable world of erratic human behavior and traffic patterns. Situations calling for an intelligence which is holistically cognizant of the environment rather than the chalkboard (or whiteboard). That hard, piercing intelligence which masters the open-ended and fluid because it is so vast and encompassing and races to map realities before they are drawn. An intelligence which garners awareness of most, if not all, players in the environment and can simultaneously track them and their movements and in fact, predict, independently of each other, future behavior based on antecedent behavior. Simultaneously. Intelligence which cannot be trained, for to attempt to embroider such an intelligence on one’s psyche may in fact defeat its natural genesis which requires intuitive mapping for the present environment.

I am not aware of any such label for this intelligence, nor if it has been memorialized or its pragmatic qualities set in stone.
I will call it situational intelligence.

Situational intelligence is not so much intelligence as it is a state of awareness that never shuts off. It is the perpetual motion machine of the senses. As long as we are lucid and awake and existing in reality, it is on. Our brain absorbs and processes an infinite series of variables throughout our daily life and the most situationally intelligent among have tuned their perception to such a refined degree of sensitivity and power of interpretation that they are literally “at one” with the environment. They are aware of the slightest changes or perturbations in the sphere of their existence. Situational intelligence becomes second nature; apparently, from my personal observations, it manifests itself in an inversely proportional relationship to the extent of one’s traditional cognitive intelligence (IQ).

In other words, high-IQ’d people tend to suffer from severe lack of situational intelligence.
However, the relationship I stated earlier meets diminishing returns when the subject’s IQ dips too low. In this case, the situational intelligence also takes a blow. I believe there is a range of cognitive intelligence that works within the inversely proportional framework when “measuring” situational intelligence. Whereas I believe increasing IQ may lead to decreasing situational intelligence in a perpetual seesaw of balancing, I believe that once IQ plummets below a certain threshold, situational intelligence is detrimentally affected, much as it would be in the case of a staggeringly rocketing IQ. Lest you’re inclined to call me out on this, keep in mind that this mess was completely born in my head this morning after that run-in with the situationally-unintelligent Audi-driving moron.