A couple of weeks ago in Chicago I observed some back alley drama as five “late twenty-something” or “early thirty-something” Caucasian folks assisted one of their friends, who was moving out of her apartment. Lethargically they loaded her belongings into a Chevy Suburban. The group consisted of two females and three males. While I didn’t ask to see their college diplomas, their general appearance and the predominant types of renters in this neighborhood made it extremely likely that they’re probably all college graduates.
So here we have it; five educated white people in an alley with a Chevy Suburban. After puttering around for thirty minutes or so, blasting music from the Suburban’s radio and making sure that their I-pods, tablets, and other associated gear had not been left in the flat, they finally climbed into the Suburban. Click, click…the Suburban wouldn’t start. It was a hot, blistering afternoon and there they stood; victims of a dead battery.
Of course, it didn’t help that they had been draining the battery by using the radio, but all batteries die eventually. After looking at each other blankly for a minute or two, one of the “geniuses” ran into the house and brought back a battery charger with a 50-foot extension cord. He attached the charger to the battery and immediately tried to start the Suburban. Of course, it takes a battery charger at few hours to re-charge a battery, so the vehicle wouldn’t start.
Then, like a knight in shining armor, a young Mexican guy came up the alley in his beat up 78 Ford Pickup. He is one of many self-employed “recyclers” who go up and down Chicago’s alleys and grab anything metal that gentrified geniuses happen to throw out. The Mexican drove slowly by the Suburban, which sat there in the alley like a bloated whale. I could see that he had a set of jumper cables on the passenger side of the old truck. For a second he slowed down and looked at the geniuses, who then finally looked at him. Without any emotion he jumped out of his truck, hooked up his cables to the Suburban and started it up. Less than 90 seconds later the Mexican was continuing his recycling journey down the alley.
What is happening in the United States of America when a fellow with perhaps two years of Mexican grade school education (and likely here illegally) has both the knowledge and preparation (jumper cables) to rescue our college-educated geniuses? Perhaps one of the five geniuses I mentioned will go on to develop a new vaccine or design some other super breakthrough technology. Perhaps. But more and more I suspect we’re raising a generation of formally educated brats who don’t know that a 2-cycle engine requires oil added to the gasoline, can’t change a tire, and have no idea how thermostats or circuit breakers work.
I suspect that many of our educated geniuses are, from a practical point of view, idiots.