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Nobody Is Any “Smarter” Than Anybody Else

It’s funny how some simple thing can jog a person’s memory and make them think of some other minor thing that happened to them long ago. It happened to me the other day, and the image that came to mind from a very distant memory was a cartoon I saw in a magazine. It showed a man who was smiling broadly and standing at an apartment door, about to knock. He was holding a jug of wine in one hand, and he had a loaf of bread tucked under his arm. On the apartment door, it said “Thou.”

This cartoon made me chuckle…it still does today when I think of it.

And, maybe you understand why that cartoon made me laugh. Or maybe you don’t. If you’ve never had an interest in poetry, you likely don’t understand. If you do have an interest, perhaps you remember that the line “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread–and Thou” is from a poem written in the Persian language by somebody named Omar Khayyam, a writer whom history tells us was born in the year 1048, and died in 1131. Shortly after his poems (he wrote about thousand) were translated into English, the people who read the poem that the line above is from pretty much latched onto the idea that it was a romantic way for  a man to say to a woman that all he needed to be happy was a jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and her.

And, I’m inclined to agree that that’s what Omar intended to say with that line, hence the reason for the cartoon being funny to me. The guy at the door has his wine and bread, and all he needs now is the person standing on the other side of that door….Thou….and he’ll have all he needs to be happy.

OK, it’s not fall-down laughing funny, but it’s still funny; that is if you know about the line from the poem and have an understanding about what it means to you.

So, in consideration of this cartoon….if one person looks at it and it makes them laugh, and then a second person looks at it and doesn’t see anything funny about it, does that mean the person who laughs is “smarter” than the person who doesn’t ‘get’ it?

No, it doesn’t. It just means that the first person had more information than the second person…information that isn’t hard to understand. It’s just information that any person who has the ability to read can understand, or the ability to listen can grasp if they are being taught by someone else on the subject, in this case, poetry, can understand.

What does this have to do with HVAC technicians? Well, a while back I was facilitating a training workshop on electrical and refrigeration system troubleshooting, and at the end of the workshop there was a test. For the most part, adults – especially adults who are technicians – are not comfortable taking tests. The anxiety mounts as the time to take the test nears, and they begin to doubt their ability to pass the test more and more. And this anxiety is rooted in the belief that only “smart” people can easily accomplish a test…a belief that isn’t true. As the title of this segment says, “Nobody is any “smarter” than anybody else.

So, “smart” doesn’t have anything to do with passing a certification exam. Being exposed to information that can be understood, either through self-study or by attending a training session that covers the subjects the test is going to cover is all it’s about.

Anybody who read my explanation of the cartoon and why it made me laugh can accomplish the same thing in regard to a NATE certification exam, or any type of exam. (Not that everybody will laugh at the cartoon. They may understand why I laughed, and still not laugh just because they don’t think it’s funny and they don’t share my sense of humor…but they still understand,)

Learn from yesterday…..Live for today…..Look forward to tomorrow