Show And Tell

You probably know what an elevator talk is. It’s the sort of snappy two-paragraph description of who you are, what you do, and where you’ll be in five years. You can whip it out like a display of neon signs. There you are, lit up like the main drag on Broadway. You have dazzled them with all you can achieve between the first and second floors.

But you see, not all of us are like that. Me, for instance. I’m a cultural anthropologist. No, I don’t do fossils. No, I haven’t done any digs in Eygpt. So by the time I get past that, we are on the fourth floor, and you are getting off; so much for the elevator talk.

After many experiences with this, I was relieved when I slipped into marine carver mode. There I stood at the boat show, with a large carvings display. All I needed to do was assure them that I had carved all of those by hand. There was no elevator talk to give the first impression I wanted them to have. It didn’t matter that I stood in jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt with wood shaving in my hair.

It’s just simple show and tell…like in second grade. Ahhh, nostalgia!

8 Replies to “Show And Tell”

  1. I think my elevator talk would be, “I’m whoever you think you see here. I have an MA in English and I taught writing for 38 years at the university level. That’s going to say stuff to you that’s probably not true of me at all.” I guess I’m jaded. I had to teach my business communication students how to prepare this talk for themselves. I think it might be easier when you’re 22. I feel the same way about painting you’ve described about carving. Either someone sees it or they don’t.

      1. I love being an abiding Dude. Here’s a teaching story. It was about 4:30. I was finished with my last class for the day. It was Friday, and the campus was pretty empty. I heard someone yelling, “Dude! Dude! Wait! Dude!” So what? Every second person and his skateboard was Dude. Then “Professor! DUDE!!!! WAIT!” I stopped. Chris — this awesome kid — grabbed my denim jacket, “Dude, Martha, Dude. The ‘Allegory of the Cave’? Dude, that’s my LIFE.” So, Dude I lift a symbolic White Russian to your dudeness.

      2. Ohhh, no! Not the allegory of the Cave. When I first was working for UPS I was working as a loader in a big freight and package hub. It was dark, dreary and only lit by spots pointing into the trailers wee loaded or unloaded. In the aisle walked the supervisors who as the saying went treated us like mushrooms, in the dark and covered in bullshit. Because of the lighting and working conditions I began to think about the Cave…I discussed it with my fellow workers…and thereby started several on the path to reading Plato.

      3. The Allegory was fun to teach and most of the time, students really got into it. Once, at a community college where I was teaching, we were doing it as a role play. I was a prisoner. One of the students, who’d seen the light, came in to rescue a prisoner. Instead of struggling with one (there were four of us against the wall) he just picked me up, and carried me outside. It was brilliant but a little out there, I guess. Thankfully the department head didn’t walk by at that moment. 🤣

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