Snobbery

I have had the good luck to have an excellent education. I wasn’t the smartest kid in my high school by any means, but I did well enough that I got a scholarship to Colorado Woman’s College from which I transferred to the University of Colorado in Boulder. I was doubly lucky because my dad was a deceased veteran (he saw no action in WW II, death was from other causes) and so, as his dependent, I got a stipend from the VA. I would rather have had my dad, but… While there, I discovered a consuming project that led me to want to go to grad school so I could write the thesis. I did that.

To do that meant I had to read a lot — that was fine. I’d already read a lot. Any kid who reads travels through time, awakens the imagination and learns words. I like words (encouraged by both parents who loved poetry) and so as time went on though I didn’t score well on spelling tests I knocked the boat out of the water on vocabulary tests, including the SAT.

In graduate school I learned — among some other stuff — that 1) I loved teaching writing and 2) I’m not an academic type. I didn’t pursue a PhD. I had little respect for my professors — only two out of the whole lot of them — and I didn’t want to make my life meetings with these strange people. It wasn’t me. I did my thesis and went in search of gainful employment as a secretary then a paralegal then I went to China to teach. Yeah.

In the fullness of time, I discovered I write historical fiction. THAT requires superlative research skills which I had learned during my short career as an academic.

So here I am in the San Luis Valley of Colorado where graduating high school is still a pretty big deal for a kid — AS IT SHOULD BE!!!!

Yesterday at physical therapy there was a lot of general talking (it’s a friendly place) and the old boy who was a DJ in Denver made the comment (after I said, “I didn’t really fit in academia” to my therapist when he asked me how I liked grad school) “You sure sound like one. You speak their language.”

I wanted to punch him, but he was already pretty fucked up, and it would have been wrong.

“It’s a language,” I said. “Anyone can learn any language.”

So what the fuck is it, the flashing light that says, “ACADEMIC!!!” when I open my mouth. I don’t know. My therapist took me into another room, and we proceeded with the work we had to do. But I could see that he knew I was irked.

So here we are all sensitive to skin color, body size, gender identity, but a smart person who has gone to school and put in the work and the discipline, that’s a stigma?

It’s not the first time in my life that’s happened. It’s just the loudest.

 

22 thoughts on “Snobbery

  1. The way we percieve ourselves is not always how others see us! I don’t like being put into a box, either, especially if it is one that I’ve fought hard to stay out of. Personally I feel it shouldn’t matter what your background is, as long as you’re a decent human being. I wonder if his comment comes from a place of discomfort; maybe he never went to post secondary education and sees it as “me and them” type thing.

    • I understand that, but 1) I wasn’t talking to him, 2) we all have the right to speak in whatever way we speak. What’s more, I think there are such things as good manners and kindness. I didn’t ridicule his hat (which he made sure we all knew had the word “infidel” written on it in Arabic meaning he is a Christian). I didn’t ridicule his religion (which he made sure we all knew). If there’s one thing I learned from 30+ years in the classroom it’s that people are idiosyncratic weirdos. Me too. 😉

      • Yes, I see your point of view and I think I agree with it. But I would not have been aggressive in saying something to him, maybe assertive. But you are right about people having their own opinions. I would draw the line if they were being racist or sexist though.

  2. You use big words for fun.

    Most people that that is that same as “being academic,” but it’s not. It’s just having fun with words. Most people don’t see a difference. I have a hint of an academic inclination, but I never wanted to DO that stuff all the time. Thus whatever academic stuff I tackle is personal and for private (my) entertainment. Because I’ve got a blog and I can write about obscure stuff — even if hardly anyone gets what I’m doing.

    I think it doesn’t count if you do it for fun, but I’m not sure of the scoring system.

  3. I’ve always used big words. That’s why I had so much trouble making friends as a kid in elementary school. I read books and I used the words I read. I had no idea they were considered “fancy” or “big.” They were just words I knew because the authors I read used them.

    By the time I hit college, I didn’t care who thought what about my language. I think maybe that’s the advantage of early rejection. You either collapse or you learn to not care what Those People (whoever they may be) think about you. I learned to use fewer big words mostly because I was a tech writer and many (sometimes most) of my readers were reading English as a second or third language, so I tried to make it easier for them to get a grip on what I was saying. The concepts were complicated enough — I didn’t need to also make them look up the words.

    • I taught business communication for half my career. That is all about choosing words others can understand. It even involved telling my students to find simpler synonyms. My insistence on simpler language made no sense to them because they’d been taught to expand their vocabulary and here was this teacher telling them not to.

      That’s not the point. The point is you don’t DO that to people. I didn’t say, “You’re an ignorant racist fuck because you hate Moslems without knowing anything about their beliefs and thinking all of them are ‘Isil’.” He gave me the opportunity to say just that, but why? I just did my exercises. It was not the time or the place or a conversation I wanted to have at all. There’s something to be said for good manners and behavior appropriate to the place and time. Then to turn around and put me down because he’s ignorant? Yah, I get that in our current world ignorance has a higher value than it has ever had, but at bottom, ignorance is dangerous and pitiful.

      • We are living in a world — right now — where a lot of people have lost even the minimal use of civility gained in kindergarten. They seem to think that somewhere in the first amendment is a codicil that says “No matter what you say or how rude or racist or mean-spirited it is, it’s okay.”

        I don’t suppose the guys who wrote the constitution through we needed a special amendment to keep people from being (1) rude and (2) morons. But there are an awful lot of them out there and try as we will, we cannot avoid all of them.

        I suppose it’s why I’m less chatty with people I meet these days. I used to be really chatty with strangers, but these days I’m wary. I can’t have another conversation with one of these idiots because you can’t talk to them. You can’t have a conversation with them. They believe what they feel like believing and truth, falsity, stupidity — nothing matter. They think if they can talk louder than you, then they are smarter too.

        We all spend a painful amount of time trying to figure out how to deal with these mentally defective people, but I don’t think there is an answer. I sometimes feel like we are people watching Germany turn Nazi. Maybe that really IS what is happening.

        If we ever wondered how it could happen? I think we are seeing it happen.

      • I hope not… I can pretty much talk to anyone about anything in any register (teaching taught me that) — in this case, I was not talking to that person at all. In so many ways he was out of line. And yeah; many people are not civil or respectful or even able to give others the little bit of space they deserve in a given situation. It’s amazing to me. I go there, I see people working with their therapists, unless there is an overall conversation going on, I don’t participate. I think it’s as serious for other patients as it is for me — but yesterday I learned it’s not. It’s everything for me to be able to go on a mountain trail. My therapist gets it. The other therapists there get it. This is MY LIFE. This is Bear’s life. It’s one reason I came back to Colorado. Nature is NEVER stupid or rude. I WANT to hang out with it. ❤

      • When I first moved here and joined the art co-op I got the lay of the land pretty quickly. Now I keep to myself, joi nothing, make friends with people who like me as I am and that’s it. No different from second grade ever is it.

  4. Woops. In my haste, I may have misread your last post.

    It’s all relative I guess. Education does divide us. That’s why people pay heaps of money in my country to get tertiary qualifications. Not like the 80s when uni was freeish here. But yeah, frustrating.

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