I had to chuckle hearing the guy muse about all of the lowers and uppers. Upper Darby, Lower Darby. Upper Merion, Lower Merion. And then there are the townships. And the counties. Why can’t every place just have its own name? Only in an elevator in New York City could the suburbs of Philadelphia become a joke.
Again, I had to chuckle.
“Are you from Pennsylvania?” the muser met my eyes and asked.
“No,” I said, “I went to Penn State.”
And then came the look.
And the, Oh.
“Oh, oh. Penn State? I am not a fan…”
Assuming this man was referring to “the scandal,” I went quick on the defense. “I went there a long time ago! Those were different times!” Immediately, I hated everything I was saying. Those were different times? What am I even saying? I was there for part of the time the scandal was going on, so technically it was the exact time I was sure my fellow elevator passenger was referring to. “I, um…” I stammered, thinking, what? I um, what? Am going I really going to get into this highly sensitive story in an elevator right now on my way to a 4 year old’s birthday party?
“I, um…” I hemmed and hawed again, internally berating myself for not knowing what to say. Speak from the heart? Be politically correct? Put my head down and avert eye contact?
Luckily the guy, who I was fast realizing was a kid, interrupted this spiral of thoughts.
“Pitt,” he said.
My squint said come again?
“I went to Pitt. My freshmen year we were big rivals. ‘Shit on Pitt,’ you guys always said. I can never like Penn State for that.”
…Back to school this week, and I’m under as much pressure to be social and meet new people as you are.
So let’s all remember this: Let’s not be so quick to jump on the defense. Let’s remember to keep things light. Remember that sometimes, people really are just talking about football.