Monday, March 03, 2008

Stupid Snobby Business

It may be an Adelaide, South Australia thing. The smaller the city (one million), the more intense the efforts for the wealthy nobs about town to make it known that they're part of the Old Boys' Club.

This pathetic behaviour goes beyond cultivating an accent that comes from somewhere behind their epiglottis and their arses; driving $100,000 Range Rovers that aren't likely to venture anywhere wilder than their beach house in Robe; and way beyond wearing a shirt with a polo player on it. No, in Adelaide it is the tiny little sticker that's displayed on the back of the European model car that is the unspoken symbol of wealth, snobbery and exclusivity combined.

There's a proud but secret army of Audis, beamers, Mercedes, Volky Golfs (no less than two years old, otherwise they're passed on to their teenage daughters or the nanny), top-level Hondas and any four-wheel-drive other than Holdens or Fords roaming the leafier suburbs with their version of ‘If It’s Got Tits or Wheels, It’s Going To Be Trouble’ stickers on them.

These sickening little stickers, however, have tiny little coats of arms on them or the old flag of Scotland, crossed oars or even some kind of poncy old Latin saying that's meant to remind the rest of us High School ignoramuses that we didn't attend, don't belong and will never break into their realm.

Whenever I'm idling my car behind one of these Sociopathic Snobs in my dented, dusty, thirteen year old Australian-made station wagon, my blood begins to boil and my witch-like grip on the steering wheel bends it into the shape of a thigh-master. Yes, any of you reading this could quite rightly accuse me of being jealous of not belonging to such a wealthy, Old School Tie club and you would be correct.

Or at least partly correct. Growing in a small country town didn't mean that we were all clueless, dirt poor yokels who considered a pasty and iced coffee a fine meal (although I do, actually). Indeed, country towns can provide a rather interesting cross section of wealth - the struggling farmers coming in to the shops every fortnight; meat workers, the transferred teachers, veterinarians and doctors - all the way up to the one-and-only car dealership, grain silo owner and meat works factory proprietor. It wasn't unusual to see the town's only Rolls Royce parked alongside a 35 year old Holden outside the newsagents.

As such, we had some rather well-off neighbors - doctors, and the owner of the town’s most lucrative business. The doctors' families remained working and living in the town, but their children were all packed off to boarding school by the age of twelve. No other local family was jealous of that situation – why have kids at all if you were only going to see them three times a year?

Meanwhile the much wealthier business owner moved house from the town where they earned their millions to a more leafy home in the hills; just right for their daughter's pony collection and regular shopping trips into Adelaide. They still sell cars in my hometown: it's just not good enough for them to live there. They weren't - and aren't - missed: if Mrs D had mentioned their childrens’ Exclusive-College-of-Choice’s 'facilities, quality of teachers and the best education and future that money can buy' to my mother one more time I would have likely been a witness to the first death by Sunbeam electric frypan in this part of the world.

The jealousy I have, though, is that none of the business man’s kids were what you'd call 'Intellectual Giants' and none of them made it through their final year with any form of academic success. Despite this, they all got brand new cars for their 16th birthdays and cushy little no-brainer-but-decent jobs via other parents whose children went to the same private school - the Old School Tie network at its finest. Any ‘Mental Pgymies’ I went to school with ended up in the rendering room at the meat works (Real life quote: "Hi there Kath - I'm real lucky - I'm closest to the radio and I get $150 a week!"), stacking shelves at the supermarket or on the dole. No 'PA to Leading Award Winning Advertising Hottie' or 'Culture Coordinator at Marketing Mayhem, North Adelaide' for those poor bastards.

These days, as a reasonably paid city resident, parent and struggling writer, I know that I need to get out more, but I harbour fantasies about dressing up in night time camouflage, doing a few commando rolls behind wheelie bins and scribbling a swastika over every single little snob sticker I find on the backs of prestige vehicles housed on the east side of the city.

I choose to blame my father for this attitude regarding stickers. No, he didn't encourage me to spew out my hatred for snobs via the written word or via swastika graffiti, but he has been known to use a sticker or two for mischievous reasons. Most of you will know that Cottees is a company that makes ice-cream toppings and has done for as long as my memory stretches. What Aussie kid didn't have a scooped mountain of Neapolitan ice-cream (chocolate first, then strawberry and only vanilla if was the only flavour left) in a cereal bowl surrounded by a glossy, brown moat of Cottees' chocolate topping?

My point - murkier than a Hilton sister's brain cell though it is - is that Dad loved to peel off the smaller dark blue sticker that was around the neck of the bottle that proudly proclaimed the syrup was 'Thick and Rich.' Being an active family of five with a mother who considered cooking to be about as fun as a pap-smear done with salad tongs, we accumulated many of these stickers.
Dad used to sneak around his friends’ cars, slapping the little ‘thick and rich’ stickers on their windshields and licence plates. Sometimes it would be months before they'd even notice them (and then immediately guess it was him), but I'm sure it provided the driver behind them with a bit of amusement at the town's one and only set of traffic lights.

Sadly, these days the bottles have 'thick and rich' incorporated into the main label which can't be easily peeled off without turning it into paper mache.

However there may be some scope for me to exact some revenge by using up some of our office's old mail merge labels, printing out 'I HAVE TOO MUCH MONEY' on every single one and slapping them next to the Snob Sticker every time I see one during my walk through the Coles Norwood car park......


ashleigh said...

You know I went to unit with a bunch of these private-school educated folks and most of them are actually quite nice. But not the same.

I was always a bit out of their league, a bit different, a bit more naff. It rankled a bit at the time, especially the girls who were completely out-of-reach (though I must qualify this, SWMBO is OK - must be after 21 years of marriage). I reckon its the parents who are the problem, with their stuck-up attitude and desire to tell everybody else of the sacrifices they make. Grr.

I'm with you, damn them to hell!

Anonymous said...

In my family, the chocolate was always last to go with the neapolitan ice cream.


Anonymous said...

Yes, you (and maybe your father) are suffering from a serious bout of sticker envy. Otherwise, you would not have paid any attention to them in the first place.