Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Guest Editorial: Stereotypes Are A Real Time-Saver

Guest Editorial:

Stereotypes Are A Real Time-Saver

By Wallace Rickard
Privileged White Male

I'm a busy guy. And, while I'd love to, I don't have the time to get to know every person I encounter in the course of my daily life. So thank goodness I have a handy little device at my disposal that helps me know how to deal with just about anyone I come across: stereotypes. Yes, stereotypes are a real time-saver!

You have no idea how much this streamlines my day. For example, before I started using stereotypes, if I were trying to choose a podiatrist to treat my foot pain, I would be clueless. I would've tried tons of podiatrists of all different races before finding a really good one. But, armed with the stereotype that Asians are all really smart and studious, all I have to do is scan the yellow pages for podiatrists under the name "Chang"!

Stereotypes also work when I'm trying to decide on a place for lunch. I steer clear of any place that employs Arabs—not because Arabs are all terrorists, but because they tend to be filthy and have poor hygiene. By sticking to Caucasian-run establishments, I can avoid wasting weeks lying in bed with a debilitating food-borne illness. If I'm in a rush and have to eat fast, I'll definitely avoid going to a place run by Jamaicans. They are sooo slow. Ever been to Jamaica? It takes, like, two hours to order a Coke down there.

Gender and age stereotypes can be just as useful as the racial ones. Let's say you need to ask directions. I'd never ask a woman, because her answer could be unreliable. With a woman, you can never tell if "Aunt Flow" is in town, so she could be going through a mood swing and send you to Timbuktu. And women over 50 are completely out of the question because of their hot flashes. I won't even ask a man over 60, because you never know when the ravages of Alzheimer's could be setting in. That's why the only people I trust to get me where I need to go are men under 60. White men, that is.

Stereotypes aren't just a trick for leisure time. You can really speed through your work day with them, too. Right now, the firm I manage is looking to hire an accountant. Without stereotypes, I'd have to read every resume and interview dozens of candidates. Make no mistake, there's still a lot of culling involved, because resumes rarely include photographs. But the first thing I do when a big stack of resumes shows up is throw out the Hispanic last names. This saves me hours right off the top.

After that, I make an "A-List" pile out of the Jewish-sounding names. According to the old stereotype, Jews are great with money, so those are the people I'm primarily interested in interviewing. In the interest of fairness, though, I'd like to interview a few Christians, too. Only problem is, some Christians are black, and who ever heard of a black accountant? I want to screen out the blacks, but unfortunately, not every black person is named Tyrone or Laquisha, so I sometimes wind up accidentally calling one in for an interview.

To fix this problem, I've turned to—what else?—stereotypes. I've come up with this plan where I phone everyone in the Christian pile and ask whether they'd be interested in participating in a menthol-cigarettes-and-malt-liquor taste-test (free, naturally). Boo-yah! An hour of phone calls later, and I've got my two master lists, Jews and white Christians. My competitors can flush all their free time down the crapper searching hither and yon for the actual best-qualified applicant, but Fast-Track Wally's got Yankees tickets!

Yes, even a Polack can see that stereotypes are the busy man's best friend!

[Reprinted from August 14, 2002
Issue 38•29]

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