Dearest few people who read my humor columns:

While at Yale, I have noticed a few terms used almost as frequently as Theta girls wear Canada Goose jackets. Some of these classic adages include “problematic,” “residential colleges are a microcosm of the Yale community” and “I just had a really unfulfilling sexual experience.” Yes, that last one is a little too real. However, I have heard no term or phrase more often than the condemnation: “elitist.” The term can be used in all contexts.

“So what if I’m in the Buckley Program, I’m not elitist!”

“Wow, you get upset at post office workers when it takes an hour to get a package? You’re so elitist!”

For the year I have attended Yale, I have considered myself innocent of such a damning title. I’m a humble white boy from the metropolitan area of New York City: I’m pretty sure NYC has never produced elitism. That sounds right.

Yet, after using various modes of transportation over spring break, I think I may be an elitist. Move over St. Augustine, because I will now write the greatest confession ever, and I leave you, dearest reader, to condemn me or absolve me of my elitism.

It was the evening of March 11, A.D. 2018. I had missed my first train from New Haven’s Union Station to the mediocre but charming state of Maryland, and found myself on an Amtrak Acela train. Wow, upgrade. I even snuck into a seat in business class. Since when did trains have business class? Awesome. And as a Yale man, I considered myself a prudent, couth passenger, cognizant of both manners and proper disposition.

At this point, I must tell you two different stories: that of the man seated next to me and that of the man seated in front of me. I shall name the man next to me Gustave (for all you hipster Wes Anderson–loving Willoughby’s baristas) and the man in front of me Lucifer (for all you Wiccan/Satanic-worshipping people).

The man next to me, was an utter delight. I happened to be holding the Yale Daily News and was amusing myself with the sudoku and crossword puzzles (both of which we steal from the Los Angeles Times, fun fact). He felt compelled to take five minutes to help me with the puzzles, have a conversation about school and bestow upon me a few life lessons. I may never forget him.

To properly set the stage, it was late at night — approximately 11 p.m. — and I was an hour away from my destination. The following excerpt has been taken from my finsta (for those unfamiliar with the term, it stands for fake Instagram, where you post unappealing photos, memes and rants):

“Regardless of the cramped spaces, shitty food, and long travel times, the reason that Amtrak is crappy is because of the people. … Some insufferable human being decided that he would recline his seat, thereby squishing me into my own seat. What a lack of basic couth. The temptation is there for everyone, to recline your seat. It’s 11 p.m., we get it, you’re tired, … but if everyone doesn’t unanimously decide that we should recline our seats, no one reclines them.”

Sure, my girlfriend commented: “Totally his right to recline his seat, you’re just grumpy because your body hurts,” referring to the fact I drank alcohol while taking antibiotics. But disregard what she has to say, she’s a “prospective” global affairs major.

Did my roommate say, “You’re the guy that stands up at football games. You are reclining chair man.” Sure, but he means soccer when he says “football” — European — so also disregard his opinion.

Oh, dear reader, I feel your judgmental eyes upon me! How I toil as you condemn me so! Let me convince you, dear reader, of my innocence with a second tale.

I took a plane to Orlando a few days later. Yeah, I put in a lot of miles during break.

Lack of couth must have something to do with vertical displacement, because the male behind me was just a complete piece of shit. An hour into our flight, I feel a kicking sensation from behind. I cannot rotate my head like an owl at 180 degrees, so I looked diagonally behind me, and I see a young couple, looking more stable than your section asshole’s GPA. The thought immediately occurred to me: I’m being kicked by their child. How brash and brazen I am to have felt malice for this insolent child! I thought back to my Directed Studies readings, pondering how Kant may argue that children are not fully rational and cannot be held to the universal objective law. And with Kant’s enlightening advice, I remained calm.

But lo and behold, the plane landed, and I discovered the inevitable: I had been kicked by some shitty mustachioed guy in his mid-20s clothed in a hoodie. To reiterate: definitely bound by the categorical imperative, Kant would have smited this man with the lightening bolt of Zeus.

Am I overreacting? Absolutely fucking not. People are inherently shitty. Hobbes was right about man in the state of nature. You should never trust your fellow human.

But, dear reader, I leave the decision up to you. Are Kant, Hobbes and I right? Are these two people just awesome human beings with no sense of couth or manner? Or are you some subjectivist who thinks I am but a petty elitist overreacting to the slightest of inconveniences? Shoot me an email — let me know.

Best,

Nick Tabio

Nick Tabio | nick.tabio@yale.edu