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Davis

Davis, California

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Column: Schooling vs. education

Mark Twain is probably one of my favorite old dead guys. It was he who said, “I never let schooling interfere with my education.” Within this quote lies the place where the distinction between the two categories of intelligence falls in line.

Somewhere between urinating on tennis courts and finding untagged photos of ourselves sleeping in a random lawn chair as sophomores (so that’s what I did after that GI Joes and Barbie Hoes party) in a stranger’s Facebook album, I believe we’ve somehow managed to get smarter.

Obviously, I still couldn’t tell you how to make calcium carbonate, but I’m referring more to other stuff. You see, there are two kinds of smarts: book smarts and street smarts. Every morsel of knowledge you obtain from a lecture slide would fall into the former category. The latter, a.k.a. common sense, is essential. It cannot be gauged or measured.

Sometimes the outside knowledge helps inside the classroom, like the addition of “vaffanculo” to my vocabulary thanks to one Tony Soprano. Unfortunately, this is not conducive to a passing grade in Italian. Nor is creeping on your friends and grunting “ciao, bella” in your perviest metro-European man voice. You get the gist.

Street smarts can be obtained mostly through experience and largely through making mistakes. A lot of mistakes have to be made on your own in order to truly derive knowledge. Many mistakes, however, are so dumb that you’re better off learning by example.

Which is why it’s lucky for you that I exist to make bad decisions on your behalf – so that you can learn and avoid incidences caused by disturbingly terrible errors in judgment. And not be considered “unemployable” and have a fruitful life and all that.

Here’s an example. Around this time last year, my dumbass friends and I thought it would be a good idea to go for a joy ride on campus. We were going three times the speed limit and blasting Eric Prydz’s “Call on Me.” If you know me, you know I can be found pelvic-thrusting to this song on Wednesdays in the Lower Freeborn basement. Anyway, our adventure was cut short by the fuzz and their flashing lights.

Honestly, the officer was a really nice guy. He politely asked what we were doing, but anyone with a knack for facial expression interpretation would have known that he really meant, “WTF gave you goddamn little shits the idea that it would be okay to trespass on school property, invent your own speed limit and disturb the peace with your godawful technopop garbage?”

I was let off with a warning, thankfully. It might have had something to do with the fact that I had just been at a CEOs and Office Hoes party and was dressed accordingly. I guess I’ll never know. I share this story with you so that you can learn from it. Most importantly, you now know not to do that. Or that you can get away with it.

I decided to consult Annette Spicuzza, UC Davis Chief of Police, under the presumption she possessed a treasury of dumb college kid tales. What she instead had to say was we’re actually better behaved than you would think.

“I think this is a great student community,” Spicuzza said. “You worked hard to get here, and it shows in the behavior.”

However, when prompted to comment on such antics as stealing a cop cruiser and driving on a sidewalk full of crowded people, she said that “doesn’t just blur the line between being goofy and being stupid. That creates a new one.”

Finally, there’s my alter ego, the one and only Blonde Michelle. Faithful readers know we ended up pushing her Volvo out of an active car wash last year. Words can hardly express the ordeal she went through when she couldn’t find her car and naturally presumed it had been stolen.

She was able to recover it on her own by remembering where she parked it. When she called the police to tell them this, they told her to pull over because they had just sent in a report of a stolen car in action. In other words, she was about to be framed for her own grand theft auto.

It’s just something that would happen to Blonde Michelle. But even if you’re not Blonde Michelle – seriously, don’t do that.

MICHELLE RICK knows she’s literally too stupid to insult, but if you disagree, additional insults can be sent to marick@ucdavis.edu.

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