Preferring Ignorance to Idiots

08 May, 2019 Bob Wilson


It is no secret that people outside the workers’ compensation industry often confuse this website as the online home for the all-powerful nebulous agency that controls absolutely everything in regard to workers’ compensation. And it stands to reason since it is the online home of the all-powerful nebulous agency that controls absolutely everything in regard to workers’ compensation, that the company behind it must in fact be that all-powerful agency. Hence, it is not unusual for the angry phone call, the email inquiry about a specific claim, the errant medical bill or the wayward subpoena to find its way to our humble office abode.

When someone faxes us a claim file, emails us their entire personal history including birthdate and social security number, mails us a medical bill, or tries to subpoena our “claims files,” we generally try to respond in a polite manner that helps educate them as to their mistake. We also try to point them in the right direction; although at times it is somewhat akin to spinning a drunk around repeatedly and watching them stumble off into the darkness. You are never quite sure they got where they wanted to go, and you just hope no one got hurt in the process.

We understand that there is a great deal of ignorance surrounding workers’ compensation for those regular citizens who have never had to deal with it. We are quite willing (queue the angelic music) to politely educate them and guide them to a proper result. It is just our wonderfully respectful process. It is who we are. We don’t mind dealing with ignorance.

Idiots, on the other hand, completely torque us off.

Late last week we received a fax from a budding young entrepreneur who was looking for workers’ compensation insurance for his new business. In fact, what he faxed was his entire application packet for coverage from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. He listed his partners, investors, business description, target opening date; the works. All of it was there for our perusal and consideration. We just, unfortunately, couldn’t do anything for him. Anything, of course, except help guide this young ignoramus to the appropriate destination (I have, at numerous conferences, made a joke that many of the most bizarre contacts seem to come from Ohio, although I have no idea why. This case is merely indicative of that trend).

Now, here’s the thing; the very first page of the Ohio BWC application packet contains instructions on where to mail the documents, as well as instructions for including a $120 check with the submission. Even though he had not sent us the required $120, it was decided we would call him and let him know of his error.

We used the phone number he listed as his business number on the application. He had indicated it was a cell phone. For purposes of this article, and to protect the colossally stupid, we will call him Mr. D. Umbass. The phone rang numerous times, and he finally answered with a gruff hello. I said, “Hello, may I speak to D. Umbass please?” There was the briefest moment of silence before he curtly said, “No thank you,” and hung up on me.

I sat there, pondering the significance of this development. I was just trying to help him. Should I call back? Should I let him rot in hell? And this number was his business number. It is the number people eager to do business with this budding John Rockefeller will call in order to arrange for his services. And if he doesn’t recognize their number or their voice, he will hang up on them.

Maybe he won’t need comp after all. Or he won’t need it for long. 

After a brief internal debate, the decision was made to send him a text, advising him of his egregious error. I will not claim it to be my finest hour, but I thought we should let him know there was a problem while pointing out he was an idget brained moron. The exchange is below. I think you will find it would have been much more entertaining if I had ended every text with his pseudonym, D.Umbass (go ahead, read it to yourself that way – big improvement, yes?).

Personally, I love his request for the proper fax number. “I don’t know who you are, I’ve generally been rude to you, but can you give me the right number?” That, my friends, is a question that is created when ignorance bumps into idiocy. It ain’t pretty. Nonetheless, we will wish this Einstein well in his future, albeit brief, business endeavors.

Ignorance generally stems from a lack of appropriate information, and its presence implies the ability to learn; ergo, one who was at one time ignorant of an issue may no longer be so. Idiocy, on the other hand, resides in a much more stubborn state of permanency, and tends to only grow stronger with experience.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take ignorance over idiocy every day of the week. 


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