One of the things that really annoy me is snobbery. You know, when someone takes an attitude that insists that they are superior, which enables them to look down on others, and even abuse others because they - the superior ones - have the 'right' to do it.
Snobbery can take many forms, all of them obnoxious and unattractive. In my time I've especially come across professional snobbery (ego-driven high-flyers at work), intellectual snobbery (academics, legal people, and at least one scientist), and social snobbery (mostly to do with a moneyed background). It's ugly, and makes me feel tainted.
When had a job, I met many types of people in the course of my duties. Some were very pleasant, and answered my questions in a clear and straightforward way, enabling us to conclude matters quickly and cleanly and with satisfaction and mutual appreciation on both sides. Others made an attempt to obfuscate, to intimidate me with their assumed superiority; and that made it hard going, because I had to be persistent. I wasn't a minion at some shop or restaurant, to be treated as if I didn't exist. I had to get at the facts, and judge for myself what the correct interpretation of the law was. I couldn't simply accept their view. I well remember the peevish atmosphere that developed when interviewing a scientist about the 'business entertaining' costs he claimed in connection with membership of the Athenaeum Club (a Pall Mall gentleman's club in London), and attendance at the Royal Society meetings and functions. Perhaps he saw it as a challenge to his eminent position and reputation. And something similar occured when discussing the convoluted property-investment affairs of a politically-ambitious former County Council chairman, and a senior member of the All-England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (who run the annual Wimbledon tennis championships).
These were all men with puffed-up opinions of themselves, who began talking to me amiably enough but turned nasty when challenged.
But I've met some dreadful women also. Once, when working in an office that covered a posh part of London, I had to tackle a socialite who belonged to a prestigious ladies' club known as the Cadogan Club. (Does it still exist?) It became necessary for me to probe what she actually did there. I was new to the London scene then, and tended to mispronounce the names of places in my country-bumpkin way. I so well remember the look of disgust on her face when I first asked her about the 'CADDO-gan' Club. I should have said 'Cad-UGGAN'. Whoops. She remained aloof and icy thereafter, refusing to take me seriously. What a snob.
I can see how the possession of money and social position could go to one's head. Or how, if one has actually 'earned' these things through sheer personal hard work, how one might feel jusified in sneering at lazier or slower-witted folk, especially if they lack Good Taste. I'm quite sure that I am myself a middle-class snob in certain respects, and with very little to base my bad attitude on. But all the same I simply can't abide anyone who rides rough-shod over other people's feelings, and casually assumes to know better, and thinks that only their voice should be heard, just because they were lucky to have a decent background and were Well Brought Up and Have The Right Standards.
Has snobbery ever served any positive purpose, or achieved anything at all, except get up people's noses?
Has it, for instance, ever saved the planet? You know, it's a good lesson to think about the most admired and inspirational persons that have existed in the popular imagination. One such mythological personage is Superman, the chap with the red cape who flies around. It's interesting to look closely at him. He's intelligent, handsome, perfectly formed, noble-minded, caring, and despite his super powers and daily world-saving actions, not a snob.