Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ivy League Snark

So, my friend Matt at The Pocket Mardis always has something interesting to say. Mostly I just want to link to his stuff and offer extended replies. That, however, seems cheap and derivative. But today I'm going to, because he linked to an absolutely ridiculous article about some Yale grad who, when confronted by the plumber, could not think of anything to say to the man.

Matt's response was a very quiet, graceful post about how grateful he was for his Christian College education, even though his theology is really different now than what he learned at Messiah College. My God, the graduates got TOWELS along with their diplomas to remind them of their call to SERVANTHOOD!!!! Here's his blog post: http://mattmardislecroy.blogspot.com/2008/12/in-which-i-defend-christian-college.html

I, however, could not get over the stupidity of an Ivy League grad who apparently was so elitist he couldn't make chit-chat with the plumber. Seriously? Yeah, I had to respond. You can check me out in the responses to the blog, but I'm going to post my response here, because it's funny:

Matt may be too tired to open up a can of whup-a&% on WD, but I'm not. Now, granted, I *only* attended the largest private university in the world, not an Ivy, and I did so "on scholarship," which means my family was too poor to afford $30K/year for college.

But I think my advice is still valid. After all, I did grow up in a very working-class family, from my mom I learned how to talk to just about anyone. My spouse will attest that I can (and do) talk to anyone and everyone - kids waiting in line at Customs, people walking their dogs, security guards, etc.

So believe me that I am sincere when I say, SERIOUSLY? This man didn't know what to say to the PLUMBER? Jesus H. Christ, plumbers aren't idiots. They do inhabit the same planet - nay, the same CITY - that you and I with our schmancy degrees inhabit. They get the same TV channels we do - and while they might not watch snooty public television like us Ivies and Ivy-wannabees, surely you have heard of SOME well-regarded and popular tv show to talk about intelligently for 2 minutes. CSI? The Biggest Loser? The Sopranos? Hell, Dancing with the Stars?

Anyway, for all those Ivy grads who, like WD, cannot think of even one polite chit-chatty thing to say to a plumber WEARING OBVIOUS SPORTS APPAREL, here is my gift to you: a list of topics on which you can easily chit-chat for a minute or two when "the help" comes.

1. Any trouble finding this place? Of course, if your mansion is the only place on the block, you may want to ask, "Any trouble finding the servant's entrance?" But in that case, be prepared to be punched in the face.
2. How do you like the Red Sox's chances this season?/Bummer about this year [snicker, snicker]; What are their chances next year? (Whatever, I'd never do this with a Red Sox fan because I hate them with every fiber of my being, but you get the idea. Oh, and NEVER EVER snicker at the sad, sad fate of the Red Sox in front of their fans. Unless those fans are named TJ and Tracey. Or you are in New York City.)
3. What do you make of this crazy weather? If the weather isn't crazy, mention how nice it is, and ask if you think it will last.
4. Did you have a nice 4th of July/Thanksgiving/President's Day/etc.? (if one has just passed) You can also ask if one has plans for an upcoming holiday. Beware - since not everyone is as WASPY as you, don't assume they are Christian, even nominally so. (Also, don't assume they AREN'T....)
5. Thank you for coming on such short notice.
6. OMG can you believe what happened on Lost last night? (omit OMG if you don't want to sound like a teenage girl)
7. I see you've got Tom Clancy's new novel in your toolbox. How do you like it?
8. What a cool tattoo!
9. Sorry about the mess. (don't mention that the maid has the day off.)
10. Sorry about my dog peeing on your shoe. (then, make a mental note to fire your dog-trainer.)

Oh, and I daresay that plumbers in college towns probably make more money than even tenured Ivy League faculty. So, if $$ = success, who's the sucka now? (Yeah, I said "daresay," what are you going to do about it?)

His sad, sad, elitist article made me happy that I grew up poor. Thank you for linking to it, and for letting me vent for a while. You are a good, good man.

I get that William Deresiewicz is lamenting the shortfalls of his Ivy League education, and I appreciate that he understands that CLASS is an important element of diversity often missing on university campuses. At least there's that. I further get that, as a Christian minister, I ought to be more sympathetic to people's failures and shortcomings. (Generally, I am. Honest.) But class stuff really gets under my skin. Does he not think that plumbers might be interested in politics? Or literature? Or that plumbers cannot speak intelligently about these sorts of topics?

Maybe, Professor D, plumbers will sound to you like blowhards as they offer what seem to you to be uneducated or ridiculous beliefs or attitudes. Maybe ... maybe you sound like that to your students. So if you want them to listen to you, maybe you should spend some more time listening to plumbers.

But please, God, not Joe the Plumber.

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