I’m Overqualified

Posted on April 10, 2016


Not too long ago I was listening to a conversation behind me that I wasn’t particularly interested in. But the volume and the proximity of the older lady and the young man was such that I couldn’t help but hear it. The service in Church had not yet begun and people were wandering in and a buzz of friendly greetings rose happily throughout the sanctuary.

The lady’s voice rose up and down in volume, almost deliriously happy, in one of those Sunday greeting voices that seems artificially to indicate spectacular joy and happiness at being there, in Church of course, and not out with the heathen on the golf course for example.

As they talked about employment, the young man remarked that he was a recent college graduate and overqualified for some job.

I thought about that for a bit.

“I’m overqualified,” could just as easily be code for “I’m too good for that job which doesn’t have much importance, pays too little, and, besides, what will my friends say?”

I drifted off from the deliriously happy lady and the snotty overqualified college graduate and later on thought about it.

Why was I griped? The kid probably did have a degree, one of those useless ones in history, English, psychology, or philosophy that don’t really prepare you for the job market, but gave you a broad gauge introduction to what we used to call the liberal arts. Maybe we still do.

It wasn’t a vocational-style degree, like accounting or engineering which prepares you, and trains you reasonably, for a specific job market, or, at the very least, to get employed at the bottom of the food chain among accountants or engineers.

I think what rubbed me the wrong way can be summarized: “what the heck does this kid expect?”

Why should he feel entitled to anything?

From my perspective the only entitlement any of us have is the right to study and work.

You could, of course, return to school and continue on to a higher degree, and end up, like I did, with a Ph.D. wondering “now, where can I get a job?”

Entitlement has several different dictionary meanings including the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something; or the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges); or a type of financial help provided by the government for members of a particular group.

Entitle, the root of the word, meant to give a right to someone. Last November I was entitled. I was dubbed a gentleman knight in the Imperial Order of Charles V in the royal castle of the Alcazar in Segovia, Spain. Impressive by any rights. The King’s cousin, the Prince of Bourbon, knighted me, and a bunch of others less I get too high and mighty in my claims to my title.

Now, my wife occasionally calls me “Sir” when asking me take out the garbage or help her make the bed. And I respond rapidly as any gentleman does to a lady in distress, or, presumably, in righting wrongs I may witness. That’s what knights do.

My twenty-four-year-old son is a charter jet pilot, flying Hawker 400s for those of you who know something about aviation, and before that Lear 35s for an international jet ambulance service. He’s all over the Americas, and with the ambulance service flew to places like Cuba, a dozen or more West Indies islands, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, and even across the pond to Ireland and England. He’s a very good pilot.

Shooting the bull with other pilots, they sometimes get to comparing where they went to college. Tennessee, Auburn, Vanderbilt, etc. etc.

And invariably they turn to Carlton, my son.

“Northridge High School,” he tells them. Since all pilots are bit high on themselves–so is he–they don’t look down at him. He’s making the same as they are, flying the same high performance aircraft and on the road to promotion and elevation in the piloting community the same as them.

I know what some of you may be thinking. “But he doesn’t have a college degree!”

My answer, like his, is “so what?” He wanted to fly ever since an early teenager and has followed his dream. He probably will eventually get a college degree online sometime, he says, but he doesn’t like books. Sigh.

In the meantime, he’s not entitled to anything other than what he earns working and flying. BTW, he started out pumping gas at the local FBO (general aviation service), cleaning windows, checking the oil and servicing the aircraft.

Neither his education nor background entitle him to anything. That’s the American way. That’s why people still want to come here. Let’s keep it that way.

Published as “Entitlement Mentality is Bothersome” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday April 3, 2016


Posted in: Life in America