this is the last. i promise

Author: angiem, 02 19th, 2010

Okay, so here’s my biggest pet peeve: people who refer to themselves as over-educated. Excuse me? What?! How is that even possible? I was talking to this person I had just met, a thirty something New York woman waiting tables in one of the restaurants the husband and I frequent, and she referred to herself as, “your typical over-educated New Yorker.” It’s a good thing I have something called manners, well some manners, in any case, because I so wanted to ask her what exactly is she over-educated for, waiting tables?

Instead I smiled a tight little smile and raised my eyebrows to let her know exactly what I thought of her over-education, but I don’t think she got it. I didn’t say anything to the husband about it because he sometimes thinks I’m a tad too mean and judgmental, which by the way, is VERY true. I am.

I LOVE the following quote from Hilary Mandel’s, An Experiment In Love: “Their manner was weary, as if they knew everything and had seen everything, and they paused often, perhaps in the middle of a phrase, to make a snickering sound that must have been laughter. Their remarks reached no conclusion; at a certain point they would become slower, more sporadic, and finally peter out.” Oh my God! I know just who she is talking about!

By the way, this isn’t directed at those who work in jobs beneath their education level, but rather at those with the attitude that they are way above what they do.

ALSO, I have nothing against this profession.  In fact, I am often asked if I am a waitress and I can never decide if it’s because of my mostly friendly nature, my sometimes snobby attitude, or because I dress like one.


42 Responses to “this is the last. i promise”

  1. julie Says:

    I know I keep telling you this Angie.. but I just LOVE you!!! [in the right way of course.. haha]

    Today I love you because you made me laugh with your opening sentence! That is a talent!! I agree with you wholeheartedly. .. why is it some ppl feel the need to define themselves by their education. what is that?

    Actually it is all very strange to me as NO-ONE in Sydney were refer to themselves as ‘Over Educated’. I think if they did people might laugh at them..

    Okey dokey.. thanks for making me smile yet again!!! xx Julie

  2. Jessica Says:

    You dress like a waitress? LOL How do they dress? Heehee.
    Maybe by over-educated she meant she has a lot of degrees she doesn’t use?

  3. willow Says:

    She obviously had issues with waitressing. Understandably, there are many out there right now in jobs they are way over qualified for. Regardless, she should keep comments about her education to herself.

  4. Beth Says:

    Life provides an education every step of the way – how can one ever truly be over-educated?
    I do my best to avoid those condescending, oh-so-weary people – I’ve learned that lesson well!

  5. Lydia, Clueless Crafter Says:

    The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. To think that one can be over-educated speaks to the contrary. I bite my lip around my hubby SOMETIMES when I start to judge others. He is so much more forgiving of others’ transgressions, especially mine. And thankfully so or I would be a loner.

    I like that you get fired up, Angie. More!

  6. Anya Says:

    I enjoyed reading this post tremendously! :-) I think I know what you mean when it comes to over-educated New Yorkers. I have met my share of them in my time. However, where I come from (Russia) everything is completely different. I remeber talented , educated women with two masters degrees having to work potato fields just to be able to feed their families… Just a thought, that maybe it is not a global thing afterall :-). Wishing you wonderful weekend. I can not believe that Spring is almost here.

  7. Cindy L. Says:

    Please don’t make this post that last about your pet peeves. Keep ‘em coming! I really enjoy reading about your peeves, selfishly speaking, because I share so many of them. This one especially.

    The arrogant boors you mention here are rampant in the literary world, everywhere …. They are those snooty people who look down their noses if you’re reading a juicy beach book vs “good lit-er-a-ture.” (Ahem, I was a Lit major in college and met way too many of these creeps.) Their attitude rallies against the very thing they claim to promote. They scare people away from “lit-er-a-ture” and the arts in general.

    Along these lines, one of my peeves is people who think that the only smart, sophisticated people in this country live in NYC, and that the rest of us are bumpkins. Don’t get me started :-)

  8. Ruth Says:

    As irritated as you may be by this last peeve, you are so funny, judgmental or not. Thanks for a good morning (hooray it’s Friday) laugh.

  9. Deb Says:

    I prefer the term under-acheiver, though perhaps not in reference to ones self… lol

  10. Mary Moon Says:

    Any one who has ever been a server knows that stupid people cannot do well at that job. It is a tough, tough job and one that requires way more thought and planning and memory and well, every damn thing, to do it well. A good waitress has more knowledge of human behavior than many people with degrees in that area.
    I doubt over-education is ever a problem there.

  11. Nola Says:

    Hi Angie - saw your comment on Ms. Moon’s site so here I came. :)

    I guess I think of myself as over-educated with all sorts of worthless degrees. My friends make fun of me because I’m 41 years old and have pretty much always been in school (though usually working at the same time). And now I apply to jobs and I’m overqualified so they won’t even look at me, so I’m starting to feel self-conscious about the years of education.

    I guess by over-educated I just mean too many years in school, too many degrees, etc. I definitely don’t mean over-smart or over-experienced. Education here for me means just the actual formal schooling. And it’s a way to make fun of myself for all those years in the classroom which haven’t done me squat good as I can’t even find a job now! If I had spent the last 20 years cultivating a career instead of serial degrees, my life would likely be much better - I just bought into that myth of education always being a good thing, and now I’m screwed.

    So now I’ve hijacked your comments section as well - me and my garishly excessive amounts of formal education. :)

  12. Joanne Says:

    Insinuating she is somehow better than the place she’s at doesn’t seem like the words of an educated waitress! Her education should’ve taught her that ;)

    Cute post, I hear you! Clicked over from Cindy LaFerle, enjoyed browsing!

  13. belle de ville Says:

    I see education as a lifelong goal regardless of what your profession is.
    But as I understand it, the waitress felt that she was overeducated for her position. My assistant is a laywer, and yes, she is overeducated for the work that she is doing for me. But, she needs the job, perhaps as the lady waiting on tables needs her job.
    There are a lot of well educated people out there with $100,000 in student debt who can’t get jobs in the professions that they trained for. It’s very difficult for them to pay the interest, let alone the principal, on that debt.
    Giving the waitress the benefit of the doubt, maybe she meant that instead of being overeducated, she was educated in a different profession.

  14. Jena Says:

    Lol!! You funny girl you! No one can know everything! I agree with you. I don’t like it either. My husband has a friend who learns a new word every day and uses it in his conversations. Most of the time he doesn’t make sense. He also is a slow speaker. I get the feeling he thinks he’s too educated for the likes of us. Except we are to nice to tell him what we think.

  15. Susan Says:

    I know what you mean…heck, I’m in DC. But I wonder if she’s feeling down on herself & she expressed it in an unfortunate way?



  16. krista Says:

    given that the majority of my “career” experience has been of the waitressing varietal, i am going to play devil’s advocate here and say that perhaps it is a learned behavior. so often i was put down, demeaned or assumed to be illiterate because i was refilling their coffee and not filing their taxes. i have two college degrees that have absolutely nothing to do with stacking plates high up my arm without dropping anything so i would often think of myself as over-educated as well. because it at least drew a line in the sand that YES i’m capable of doing whatever i want and YES i’m choosing to bring you your eggs because it pays more than that other fancy office job with the impressive business card i tried out one year and please do not assume you are better than me when you order from me.
    granted, maybe that girl is just entirely too self-aware and judgy and chock full of patronizing venom.
    whew. two hours of sleep, a cranky baby and my third cup of coffee.
    i don’t know you, but i get lightheaded standing way up here. i’m gonna step down again.

  17. audrey Says:

    grits! i knew i was a bit different when i started school and none of my first grade friends knew what grits were. it’s more of a southern thing.

    i moved to nyc when i was 6 months old. my family is from georgia. this is a long way to say nyc has it’s own special culture, some of it i get and some of it i don’t get.

    people who live in nyc can be especially arrogant (not all, but a lot). it makes me crazy. i always feel out of place, my mom emphasized manners and a kindness for others. but i always feels out of place here.

    i don’t know what the story is for the waitress you mentioned. but if by chance she was giving off that arrogant nyc vibe, it’s enough to make you want to pull her hair. i know it’s mean, but that’s how i feel sometimes.

    i just want us to be ‘warmer’ with one another. that’s why i want to live in the town of the ‘gilmore girls.’

    i know i need help :) but i’m just sayin’

  18. debbie Says:

    I also enjoy the judgment and criticism of others:) I think that phrase is ludicrous as well. I’m glad you have her “the look”.

  19. Kristin Says:

    I’m totes over educated. I know every word to ALL of the Wiggles songs. Ah ha ha

  20. Karen Says:

    Dear Angie,
    It’s a pleasure to come here and read your writing and meet you and your family. I got a kick out of your restaurant story. I dislike pretention VERY much. And I’ve been a restaurant hostess and a waitress, too. It has nothing to do with one’s employment. And gentility and education do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.
    Thanks for visiting and commenting so kindly on my posting.
    I hope you have a great weekend.

  21. Holly L Says:

    I have a “friend” who is so pretentious, and it is to hide her insecurities. I cannot stand to listen to people like this waitress you describe. I also know a few people who make snide comments about professions/job that are not normally pursued by the highly educated. There is a place for everyone is this world and wee all need to find our place and learn to accept it.

  22. Janna Qualman Says:

    Your honesty and realness (<– is that a word?) are refreshing, Angie. And I agree, the waitress seemed a bit presumptuous.

    You said every bit of this so well!

  23. Jennifer Says:

    I was once married to a man who had three master’s degrees. He wasn’t “overeducated” in this sense (and I agree, it’s an annoying term, at least when used in the way it seems to be here), but … but …. I can understand using the term in a different way, for example to describe someone who just can’t stay away from school or keeps on acquiring degrees in an attempt to dodge other realities. But I tend to give people lots of leeway in the potentially stupid things they say, knowing I am very capable of sounding like an inane ass myself — even when I carefully prepare myself not to sound that way!

  24. La Beletter Rouge Says:

    Please don’t stop telling us what you really feel. I like hearing all of it!!! More, please!

  25. silsetto Says:

    Isn’t it just intellectual superiority masquerading as inferiority? Pardon me, if I appear too intelligent for you / my surroundings / my job, I just can’t help excelling? Someone who thinks they’re over-educated is plainly someone who needs to learn a helluva lot more…!

  26. Make Do Style Says:

    I have to agree with La Belette it is very entertaining.

    Do you think people have become snobs and feel that they aren’t worth much is they clean streets or waitress - because they need to know we are all equal and all the riches on earth count for nothing. xx

  27. Miss Cavendish Says:

    Do you wear white tops and black bottoms a lot? :-) That’s what I wore when I waited tables during my university summers and can’t bear to put on again, lest I feel the urge to start taking my family’s orders at the supper table. Especially since I often tell my children, “This is not a restaurant!”

  28. Mumsy Says:

    I like your opinion, and I don’t understand “stuck-up” people!

    I was taught that when you look up, you can’t measure to everyone, and when you look down, there are people who are in worse situation than us..I think there is a balance in this!

    Thanks for visiting me and taking the time to read my post.

  29. Susu Paris Chic Says:

    I truly see the “good point” in your story. Snobby attitude is something very crushing. I used to have a colleague who never appreciated the work we do. She’d always talk about how she used to have “a real and good job” in the past. I thought that our job was just that. I preferred, always have, to be grateful for what I have today, right here. Should it some day become better, I wouldn’t mind, but at least this is where I am planted right now. This is where God has seen my place to be. And I should “shine” there.

  30. Mama Zen Says:

    Gosh, I wish that I could be “over educated!”

  31. Eva Internazionale Says:

    “at a certain point they would become slower, more sporadic”


  32. rochambeau Says:

    Good Morning Angie,
    Thank you for your kind comment which brightened my day.
    This is a great post. Some of the things it made me think about:

    Words are powerful and understanding others use of words is no easy task either. Each person interprets words and their intonation differently. We base our interpretation on where we grew up, the language spoken in our family and the local parlance of the places we have lived. The sad thing is we can misunderstand people.

    I think what the waitress was actually saying is that she feels ashamed of
    herself and is embarrassed.

    The day a person learns humility, is the day the world changes.
    You used humility by buttoning your lip!!


  33. Francesca Says:

    Don’t know what to say. I also was a waitress once. It was in the UK, ages ago, when I couldn’t speak a word of English, though I could translate Latin and Greek (into Italian). Was I overeducated? I can still vividly remember my panic when I was asked for a “beefburger” and I only knew “hamburger”. I did learn a few things: 1) I passionately hate chocolate milkshake 2) burgers was not my future. I like your frankness, Angie.

  34. Nicolette Says:

    I love it. Just love the honesty! Your blog is a breath of fresh air. Have a great weekend. xoxo

  35. Bunny Says:

    Oh Angie you never disappoint us! I can just picture you staring at this woman while she spoke. I’m a fun girl, never a pompous bore, Why do people need to let us know how great they are..who really cares?? Plus they are so boring.

  36. giftsofthejourney Says:

    Having worked as a waitress after graduating with what some would consider a useless degree in theatre, I found myself waiting tables to help support my then husband as he pursued his graduate school dreams.

    We had a young child at the time and waiting tables meant I could bring in a fair amount of easy cash without having to put her in daycare.

    I must admit that there were customers who behaved in rude and condescending ways who could frequently make me feel temporarily ” less than ” and make me want to say that I was so much more than the four plates of ribs I could carry at one time.

    While I wasn’t there when your waitress identified herself as overeducated, my first thought would have been one based in empathy.

    It’s difficult sometimes for any of us to believe that all work is good work and has value in a society where money tends to define someone’s worth, with or without advanced education.

  37. angiem Says:

    Thanks, Julie! Love you right back.

    Jessica - Black and white and boring. Just kidding, I don’t dress like that… Well, sometimes, but never mind.

    Willow - I agree. Seeing as it was our first time meeting her. In her defense, people in general tend to over-explain themselves, don’t you find?

    Beth - I wish I could avoid them too.

    Lydia, please don’t ask for more. I can’t refuse such a request.

    Anya - I know what you mean. And it certainly feels as though spring has arrived.

    Cindy - I have heard of these snooty people you mention and actually know a couple. And you are so right regarding their behavior.

    Thank you Ruth! :)

    Deb, hahaha! You’re funny!

    Ms. Moon - I am sure waiting tables isn’t an easy job. And some customers are real jerks too.

    Nola - I enjoy reading your responses, so please don’t feel you’ve written too much. Yes, perhaps I should have given her the benefit of the doubt. I was PMSing and wasn’t in the mood. I wanted my food without her explanations as to why she was waiting on me.

    Joanne - Thank you! I agree. The restaurant is one of the nicest in town too.

    Belle de Ville - You make a valid point.

    Jena - You’re so funny yourself! The husband of a friend does that too and it drives me nuts. By the time he’s done saying what he wants to say, using his word of the day, my mind is on something totally different.

    Susan, it could be that she was feeling down on herself. In that case, I hope I didn’t make her feel worse about herself.

  38. She Writes Says:

    I hear you, girlfriend! Can’t stand pretension, arrogant academia, or bragging. Is calling a spade a spade judgmental? ; )

    Happy weekend, Angie.

  39. Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita Says:

    Isn’t it funny how calling yourself over-educated can only make you sound a wee bit dopey? Conversely, a pet peeve of mine is when people assume people in certain positions are not educated, or not too bright. That really bakes my biscuit!
    Have a great week!

  40. elizabeth Says:

    I’m very partial to pet peeves — or to hearing about pet peeves. They’re always so weird and interesting. I can’t say that the phrase “overeducated” bothers me all that much, but I get what you’re saying!

  41. Mwa Says:

    Really? The last? But I like peeves. And pet peeves. One of my pet peeves is having pets…

  42. pamela Says:

    Isn’t education something that should continue the whole of one’s life? I hope I’m still in the process of being educated, and remain so till my last breath.

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