Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Elitism

By “elitism,” I mean thinking you’re better than other people – for whatever reason. You could call it snobbery, but then I’d have to shove it more than halfway down the alphabet and I’ve already got a topic for “S” anyway. Bet you just can’t wait to find out what it is.

I'll give you a hint, it starts with S.

I’ve met my share of entitled people who never had the same kindergarten class I had about how you’re not better than anyone else. I remember when I lived in Chamonix, where everyone is wealthy whether they know it or not, I was not-really-dating-just-sort-of-hanging-out-with this guy there, and then one day he was telling me about his father’s factory and how his dad kept having problems with the working class people who, you know, worked in his factory. I can’t remember the details of the story, something about how they weren’t working hard enough and appreciating the opportunities his dad had given them or something. I wasn’t really listening because who f*^kin’ would. But I clearly remember him saying, “I keep telling Dad those kinds of people are no good, but he just won’t listen.”

“What kinds of people?” I asked.

“Well, the people who work in his factory.”

“What kinds of people are those?”

“Well, you know, the kinds of people who work in factories.”

“And what kinds of people are those?”

“Well, you know.”

“No, I don’t know, please elaborate.” (I’m the sort of person who says things like “please elaborate.” That’s who I am. Deal with it.)

He didn’t elaborate, he just frowned like I was making some kind of impossible request, so I still don’t know for sure what it was he was getting at, but it really sounded like he was getting at “Dad shouldn’t hire working class people to work in his factory because they don’t work very hard because they’re only working class,” which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as a theory, because if they didn’t work they wouldn’t be called “working class,” but whatevs. Suffice it to say I stopped sort-of-dating the guy at that point and started not-dating-the-guy-at-all instead.

But I told you that story so I could tell you this one. I also knew a woman (I’ll call her Pizza because she worked in a pizza shop), and she was utterly obsessed with Daddy’s Factory, to the point where every time I saw Pizza I’d have to listen to her talk about Daddy’s Factory for at least ten minutes. They were friends and she seemed to think that was just the best, EVAR. 

So, one day not long after I’d stopped sort-of-dating Daddy’s Factory, we were all over at his place – me, Pizza, some of his other friends, him – and it came out that Pizza had used to work in a factory when she was young and living in North America. (He was still going on about the factory thing.) To Pizza's credit, she stood up for the factory workers, announcing that, yes, she had been wary of them at first, but after she got to know some of them, it turned out they were regular people, with homes and families and plans for their holidays, just like you and me!

And everyone just kind of looked at her. Speaking for myself, I was baffled because I couldn’t imagine not knowing that the factory workers were regular people. Who knows about some of the others, but at least one of the people in the room that day was wondering if his new friend might need some medication. 

If she had said she'd found out they were  trolls who lived under bridges, she might have gotten a warmer reception.