The opposite of retail

A strange, and therefore believable, tale from Jack Baruth:

About a decade ago I decided to go back to school in the evenings and get my doctorate in literature. “As a 35-year-old white man,” the dean told me, “you wouldn’t be eligible for any of our assistantships.”

“Not a problem,” I replied, “I’ll pay cash. How much does the degree cost?”

“Well…” he huffed. “There’s no actual cash price per se because everybody is on assistance, which is only fair given today’s bigoted climate.”

“So I can’t pay to go to school, because nobody pays and you don’t know how much I would have to pay, because there’s no cash price for presumed bigots who are not on assistance because they’re ineligible for assistance.”

“I’m not sure that’s a fair way to phrase it.” Each and every day I have a better idea of what motivated the character of “D-FENS” in Falling Down. He, too, was an average fellow.

Well, except for the fact that he’s trying to walk across Los Angeles, which would drive anyone nuts.


  1. McGehee »

    7 June 2018 · 11:42 am

    Interesting juxtaposition.

    “As a 35-year-old white man,” the dean told me, “you wouldn’t be eligible for any of our assistantships.”

    Followed by…

    “…today’s bigoted climate.”


  2. McGehee »

    7 June 2018 · 11:46 am

    And I just realized “today’s bigoted climate” was during the 2008 presidential campaign, which culminated in a black man becoming President of the United States.

    A lot of people back then seemed convinced that Obama getting elected would finally put an end to the meme that America was a racist country, while those of us with more sense warned otherwise. It’s almost alarming that Baruth’s dean appears to have agreed with us.

  3. RobOHara »

    7 June 2018 · 2:51 pm

    The reason the dean couldn’t provide a cash price is, I’m guessing, had had lost track of all the hidden fees. At the big red university I just graduated from, graduate classes are listed at $213/hr. Scroll down the bursar page a bit and you’ll find the $133/hr additional mandatory “per hour” fee, the $210 mandatory “per semester” fee, the mandatory $76.75 (per hour) technology fee, $261 (per semester) for parking, and an $82 admission fee. After tracking all those additional fees, I felt like I had earned a minor in accounting. (

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