I have some serious self esteem problems.
You just heard the sound of hundreds of people saying simultaneously: “Ya think?”
If you happened to be around when I blurted out specifics of my tortured childhood, you have context. If not, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one (for I will NOT repeat it): I will forever feel like an outsider, and that somebody, somewhere is laughing at me and making fun of me. It’s stupid, it’s silly, it’s not very Christian – but it is what it is.
So, I’m the annoying guy that tries a little too hard to fit in.
One scene from Silence of the Lambs that always brings me to tears is the first interview between Starling and Lecter. He sees right through Clarice’s act and says:
You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition has given you some length of bone, but you’re not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling? And that accent you’ve tried so desperately to shed? Pure West Virginia. What’s your father, dear? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp? You know how quickly the boys found you… all those tedious sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars… while you could only dream of getting out… getting anywhere… getting all the way to the FBI.
Anyway, when it comes down to it, I have no more education than the person who served you fast food today. That’s just a fact. You might have gathered I’m a little self-conscious about this fact, among other things.
Yet, there are a handful of people I interact with who are far more educated than I, who, even when I’m being a jackass, treat me no different than they would a peer in the halls of learning. They don’t have to do that. They could knock me down, dismiss me, remind me of my background like Lecter did Starling. Unequal relationships are fraught with peril.
Yes, it’s simple courtesy.
But, for a guy like me, this is a gift beyond value.
You know who you are. I just wanted to thank you.