Nina's Stillwater Calendar

Tuesday, October 16

Snobbery

I was sitting in the Denver airport waiting with the other, I don't know, maybe 10 passengers for my flight to South Dakota and enjoying a pomegranate when a man who was sitting idly nearby began to question me on my fruit selection. For those who have never before eaten a pomegranate (and this guy hadn't), you individually pick out each fruit coated seed and eat it. If you notice the picture, you will see why this takes some patience. I explained the process. Then this man, who was planning to sit in the airport doing nothing for the next thirty minutes anyway, pompously declared that he simply didn't have the time to eat a pomegranate. I was unimpressed by his busy and important life but he kept talking to me and I kept responding and I eventually found myself in a conversation with someone who is too busy to eat a pomegranate. And what does such a busy and important person do? He buys and sells real estate. That's it. He doesn't improve them, he doesn't add value. He buys and he sells. Not only that, but he is remarkably proud of what he does, perhaps even cocky. One of those "How to make a million dollars in one year and get on this commercial with no skills, no money, and no apparent taste in clothing" commercials kept popping into my head while he was talking. All this I could have overlooked. Except that when he asked what I did and I told him I was a PhD student in math, he responded "Well, I think pocketing $20,000 on real estate deal sounds like more fun." I suppose I'd take $20,000 over my next Algebra homework too. But he was summing up my entire planned career and all my effort in grad school as somehow less interesting than a real estate deal. I was a insulted and it occurred to me that I am a snob. Why should my sense of self-worth require that everyone I meet have to find me impressive? Really, I thought, I need to grow up.

I attempted to ameliorate the situation by reflecting that at least this guy was a bigger snob than me. Obviously, this just made the situation worse. I capped off the downhill spiral by comparing myself to Benjamin Franklin who said:

In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had compleatly overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.

p.s. Jill, thanks for the new word. And I haven't forgotten to put up pictures of South Dakota. I just don't have them ready yet.

4 comments:

David Apatoff said...

From Biblical times, poets have recognized that the virtue of a pomegranate is in the patience it demands of us. There is an old fable that says any man who would truly know a woman must first prove his patience by having the restraint to eat an entire pomegranate seed by seed. I hope your real estate friend finds happiness with his mortgage liens and title insurance.

Megan said...

I think it's ironic that he doesn't have time to eat a pomegranate when he's sitting in an airport probably doing nothing...

Jill said...

Have you used the new word yet??

Nina said...

I haven't yet. I'll try using (or at least thinking) it during opening hymn at Institute on Friday.