Snob Appeal


This is the 36th in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.

Some people know so much about one thing they look down on those who aren’t so knowledgeable.
They are snobs.
There are wine snobs, art snobs, literary, fashion, food, even money snobs.
“I can change the world.” the politician boasts.
“But he can’t even change a tire,” the garage mechanic sneers.
If you’re sure you know more about haute cuisine than your dinner partner, remember she may know more about 19th century architecture.
Don’t let your knowledge turn you into a snob.
Find out what the other guy knows, before you show off what you know.

The first thought I had when I read the ad above was that I really don’t know what is meant by “haute cuisine”, or even how to pronounce it. So I checked the web, and here is the definition I found:

the preparation and cooking of high-quality food following the style of traditional French cuisine

It was at that point I realized why I had no idea what it meant; I could care less about “cuisine”. That’s not to say that I don’t care about what I eat, in fact many people may consider me a food snob. I’ve been vegan for over nine years, and I try to buy organic for all of my produce. Beyond those two basic rules, my approach to eating and my tastes are quite simple.

It’s also been helpful that places like Wegman’s and Costco have been big supporters of organic food, instead of having to rely on just one place like Whole Foods. Shopping at Costco makes me feel like less of an organic food snob. In fact, it appears as if Costco now sells more organic food than Whole Foods. But while we are talking about organic food, I do want to give a shout out to my favorite place to buy produce – Mom’s Organic Market.

And while I think I’m fairly knowledgeable about what constitutes healthy eating and an overall healthy lifestyle, I don’t think I’ve ever tried to force my opinions on anyone, or to even share my opinions, unless asked.

I don’t get the whole idea of trying to show off what I might know; I’m generally much more interested in finding out what others know, since it’s likely I’ll learn something from them.

Plus, as I’ve written about before, I really have no useful skills, so what would I pontificate on anyway?

That’s not to say I don’t have any skills, so in a humblebrag sort of way, let me list a few of those:

  • the ability to take a room full of young, energetic 18-22 year olds, and in a matter of just a few minutes, have many of them sound asleep
  • knowing the phone numbers of the two local pizza places, without having to look them up
  • the ability to write over 300 blog posts, when I really have nothing interesting to say
  • the ability to go to a party, and then leave, without anyone noticing that I’ve gone
  • the ability to drive over the speed limit, yet still be the slowest car on the highway
  • the ability to know which suit I’ll be wearing on a Monday five years from now, and which suit I’ll be wearing on the following Wednesday

While I secretly hope that someday such skills will be valued in the marketplace, as of now I really don’t have the opportunity to be a snob.

In the meantime, I’ll just continue to be that guy at a party who will gladly listen to everything you have to say without interrupting once, then sneak out so that I can go home and write a blog about it.



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