The other kind of stereotype.
I was thinking about stereotypes tonight. There’s the common and obvious form that attributes negative traits to a group but I’m talking about the funny phenomenon of the kind that makes a positive, though equally spurious, suggestion.
What made me think about this was seeing a jeweler named Mordecai on TV. I thought that for a lot of people that name would be a credential on its own and had a good chuckle. I’m sure you’ve heard somebody, maybe an Archie Bunker-esque relative, say something stupid like, “Sure, he’s a good machinist; he’s German!” I use this example because it happens that I know a German machinist who really hates people assuming he can work miracles in record time simply because of where he did his apprenticeship.
I had an experience of my own many years ago. I was in a job interview and the interviewer said to me, “Cameron is a Scottish name, right? Good, you’ll be thrifty with my money.” He wasn’t joking. I was surprised and though I wasn’t offended, it convinced me that the man was a mush-head and I didn’t want to work for him….I do wish I had the gumption to reply to that remark with, “Yes I will, and if you need a good mechanic, I’d like to recommend my friend Hershel….”