Applauding the Hoi Polloi

I remember the day. Winter was upon us, and I was wearing a black wool suit, hair in a bun. The man staring back at me was solemn. As I recited my introduction about my services for this initial evaluation, he looked at me with almost a glare. When I finished, he said  rather disdainfully, “I come from a very educated family from …(a wealthy enclave), and you do not sound very educated.” He did not stop. “Nor do you look old enough to help me.” Now let us begin dissecting the latter declarative sentence. I was about forty, forty-one at the time, which I told him. Being small in physical stature, my mother once reminded me that when I was older, I would appreciate looking younger. For the most part, she was correct. Until I was thirty years old, I had to display my driver’s license to prove my age. In this instance, however, my once-upon-a-time youthful appearance did not serve me well.

Without looking surprised or annoyed, I informed this man that I was of age, well beyond. I  revealed to him that I was from Worcester, Massachusetts, and those who live there speak no differently. My response seemed satisfactory to him. This man stayed with me for several sessions and worked on issues that reminded him and me without saying that no matter where we come from, we are flawed human beings.

The Elite Versus The Hoi Polloi

I had a similar experience a year or two earlier when a woman from a privileged background came to see me for one session. After sharing with me she had lived in the City of Lights for a year, I, in my typical manner, mentioned that it must have been lovely, and someday I would like to visit (I eventually did). This woman then stared at me, canceled her next appointment, and told me she found a better match. For some reason, this particular incident hit me hard. I felt horrible and wondered if I gave out TMI. Looking back, I do not believe that was the case at all. No, I think my engagement with her brought out my nonelitist background, but more about that later.

For those who do not know a bit about ancient Rome, the Plebeians were accomplished and financially secure but snubbed by the Patricians.

Before seeing the man mentioned above, I saw many people from the higher echelons of society regarding education and socioeconomic background. Yet, his comments incited insecurity in me about my accent that I had never experienced before. I became so sensitive that I felt compelled to justify it to the next new client seeking my services, a lovely woman with superb elocution. When I explained my accent to her, she looked at me and responded that she loved accents and hadn’t even noticed. This lovely woman is still with me twenty-plus years later. From that point forward, I vowed never to apologize for my “Wooster” accent again where people “paak the caa,” and I did not. Although my resume shows my education and other professional endeavors, at heart, and my clients and friends are well aware of this, I am part of the hoi polloi, the little people literally and figuratively, or if one prefers, a Plebeian. For those who do not know a bit about ancient Rome, the Plebeians were accomplished and financially secure but snubbed by the Patricians. These Blue-Blooded families may have been dirt poor, but everything was about the pedigree. Does this sound familiar to you? Well, in light of what is occurring with the stock market, I would think so.

How Dare You!

As many people know, the esteemed elites on Wall Street were taken aback by some young, unknowns, you know, the little people, who decided to jump into the fray of investing in the realm of billionaires. Oh boy! Speaking of boys, these investors’ recognized their secure turf was no longer for them alone. “Good for me but not for thee” attitude received a reckoning. How dare these little people? Who do they think they are to join our secret club? Well, these Plebeians utilized Robin Hood to transfer wealth and not illegally like the legendary namesake. Tsk, tsk is a mild expression of the uproar echoing through the halls of those Hedge-Fund Investors who bet against GameStop without even owning the stock. Well, all said and done, trading halted, giving time for these monied people to recoup their losses. Ah, but the Hoi Polloi had permeated their thin-skinned bubble. Oh my!

Yes, these same people often attend expensive charity events donating toward causes that may involve tiny people. Their generosity, shiny and sparkly, is there for the taking as long as Lilliputians recognize they receive but cannot be. Do not dare trespass is the implicit message! You are not part of our exclusive group. Now more than ever, the elite will have difficulty disguising their superior posture toward the Hoi Polloi. Will it matter to them? Who knows? Has history demonstrated anything different?

Lilliputians Don’t Count

Several years ago, I contacted a politician’s office regarding a consequential bill. I had never done this before. Many people told me that you just inform them of your position, and enough communication from constituents can influence the politician’s vote. I knew this representative supported the bill, but I thought I would exercise my first amendment rights as a citizen and express my opinion. When I called, an aide answered. I thought she would simply jot down my position, but no. Aggressively, she questioned, “And why is that?” Taken aback, I fumbled, unprepared for this veiled attack. When I ended the call, I thought for a moment and contacted her again. During this conversation, I reminded the aide that she and the representative worked for me. I, along with other Americans, pay her and her boss’s salary. She then became befuddled, and with much more civility, she told me she would share my position with the representative. Ultimately, the politician voted “their conscience” and not, from what I heard, that of most of their constituents. Lilliputians did not count.

Poetic Justice

Returning to the matter of that woman from long ago, ironically, poetic justice made its way into my universe. Several years later, a very frail woman entered my office for the first time. She gravely suffered enduring significant pain from a chronic illness. We had several visits together, and despite her suffering, she was quite engaging. This lovely woman who has since passed on had graduated from one of the Seven Sister colleges, giving it scant mention as I gathered her history. At that time, I thought nothing about the names of the children. After some time, however, this woman stated the name of one of her daughters again. Suddenly, the light bulb went on. The daughter was that same woman who rebuffed me years earlier. As that fact settled into my mind, I thought to myself well, “Like mother, like daughter” is not applicable here. Her mother had no problem sitting with me, a Hoi Polloi member, and made that clear.

I applaud my Hoi Polloi siblings. You are unique, doing extraordinary things. Suppose they feel small and inconsequential. They are not! Remember, good things come in small packages, literally and figuratively!

What Are Your Thoughts?

I have written about this issue in the past. What are your views about this matter? I invite you to share your thoughts.


Darlene Corbett
Darlene Corbett
Darlene Corbett views herself as a life-long learner, a pursuer of excellence, a work-in-progress, and a seeker-of-the-truth. She is also referred to as the "Unstuck Expert" in her many roles. Why? Because for over thirty years, she has been assisting people to get unstuck. Darlene's primary roles are now Therapist, Hypnotherapist, and Author/Writer. Although she loves speaking, it is now secondary and done mainly through her podcast, "Get Unstuck Now. Because of her wealth of experience, Darlene began putting her thoughts on paper.  Many of her blogs can also be found on Medium, Sixty and Me, and Penning these articles set the stage for her first book, "Stop Depriving The World of You," traditionally published by Sound Wisdom. Being a believer in pushing oneself as long as one has life, Darlene has tried her hand at fiction, hoping to have something completed in the no-so-distant future. Over the years, Darlene has been described as animated or effervescent which contradicts the perception of a psychotherapist. She firmly believes in the importance of being authentic and discusses platinum-style authenticity in her book.

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  1. I’ve had many disturbing comments from people who used their words as weapons — it’s a strange world.

    Thanks for bringing your light on this. Each person is as critical-to-the-world as the next person.

    Fame is fleeting, as can wealth be . . . perhaps it’s their recognition of that which fuels flames of hatred of themselves?

    For speaking thus . . . must surely be injuring these people in many ways.

    Yes, as you point out humility is valuable.

    Indeed, a humble attitude brightens those small things you mention that come in small packages.

    And grows the capacity of a person in leaps and bounds.

    In any case —

    What one person says in cruelty-or-put-down is about themselves rather than about the person sitting in front of them.

    Admittedly, it’s difficult to remember that in the painful moments.

    Yet forgiveness allows letting go to happen afterwards.

    If not quite in the moment!

    And gratitude finds where the light shines in during each day . . .

    Practiced perhaps a bit extra on such days . . .

    Thanks for your delightful insightful inspiring reflection Darlene.


  2. Some people should get off the pedestal and take a bath of humility.
    We are all normal people, with intellectual, physical, biological limitations. It would already be a great thing if we started to become aware of the fact that we are nothing.
    Certain behaviors are the result of the complex characterized by an excess of self-esteem and a deep feeling of feeling superior and more important than others in one or more certain circumstances, for example in the professional, social, physical or sports fields.
    One of the most significant aspects is precisely that of judging others and magnifying their defects.

    • Thank you again, Aldo. As I started on Linked In, you offer beautiful insights of which I agree one hundred percent. By the way, please feel free to tag me or let me know when you post articles. For many reasons, mainly because my cup runneth over, I look at the articles from Linked In only.💖

  3. Keep it up Darlene! If there is one thing that turns my stomach faster than spoiled milk, it’s when someone says, “Do you know who you’re talking to”? I’d like to be smug but then I remember, I’ll be just as ignorant as they.
    Unfortunately, class or caste has long been part of human history but I believe no matter who you are – or who your parents are – we all must earn a reputation and remember we are not above anyone else. Thank you!
    P.S. those hedgefunders, who have caused others doom, I don’t feel one bit sad for them.

    • Thank you Charlotte for reading and commenting. I can assure you that 99 percent of the clients I see and have seen over the years may be hurting but have manners. In the United States, when people enter therapy, there is a problem to be resolved, but they often stay for other reasons. Many of my clients have been with me for years and know if they were not my clients, they would be my friends. They recognize I see our relationship as a partnership even if it is one-sided. I adore all of them, and they know it. I feel most grateful.

  4. Thank you dear Simon for your in-depth, thoughtful commentary. I am so appreciative of your share. Also, I am grateful for all the knowledge you provide here. I did not know most if not all of it. As a lifelong learner, I relish new facts that come my way. Good for you for engaging in politics and trying to make your country a better place. I think it is great that you corrected the man who said “only a cleaner.” I could not agree with your view of human beings. I was taught the same way, and as someone who engages a variety of people from different backgrounds, everyone of them, I hope, knows I see their uniqueness no matter their circumstances.

    Again, thank you for such a treasure trove.

    With a smile and much gratitude,


  5. Dear Darlene,

    I applaud your amazing article; written with such amazing passion. As on the Linkedin response, Hoi Polloi, and plebian and patrician are typically of Latin origin. There was a distinct ‘class or aristocratic’ element.

    Although I am aware I drifted of the key issue in your super article, it sent me off on a topic that I am fully aware of and have strong opinions. Regardless of Hoi Polloi, everyone is an individual person and every one deserves to treated as such.

    As an Exhibition Steward at the 1000 year old Winchester Cathedral. The Cathedral; was commissioned by William the Conqueror of Normandy (Battle of Hastings 1066) I am totally fascinated by the history. Many French heroes were awarded vast areas of land in England and also became aristocrats as a reward. To this day there remain quite a number of individuals and families who are direct descendants along with their estates.

    I am also fascinated by the origins of such words as plebian and Hoi Polloi; all Latin. The 900 year old English Bible is written old Latin ‘Vulgate’. These days the word is ‘vulgar’ a totally different use of the word. Vulgate is the Old Latin, and essentially meant ‘common or ordinary’; translated from Greek, Hebrew and Latin. The idea is the language was available to ‘ordinary’ citizens. Or common citizens, but not down market! There is the Common English Prayer Book. But ‘common’ meaning inclusive.

    I go on! Your story is very special. In the UK, some high up bureaucrats may see themselves as above a mere plebian. Politicians on the other hand are more approachable! I am am active campaigner for saving our countryside and have much contact with our local Member of Parliament and also councilors, with whom I cooperate happily. And why not. Having lived in The Netherlands for a number of years, the chance to engage with people of different cultures and nationalities during my travels was wonderful. I did learn that in the Netherlands there is a particular attitude towards being ‘posh’ or……ordinary! Especially the regional accents!
    From childhood I was taught to treat everyone the same; not aloof. I once heard a chap say he was ‘only the cleaner’. I said there is not such thing as ‘only the cleaner’ and explained that without him the big restaurant brasserie would be a mess. A lot of people think of themselves as low because they’re not big bosses. Rubbish!

    As for myself, I love American accents and enjoy WhatsApp video/voice exchanges. Wonderful. I also applaud women in business in the USA because the ‘glass ceiling’ does not tend to exist. So enterprising and the can-do attitude.

    Once again, Darlene, I know I have diverted from the core conversation! And indeed good things come in small packages!

    Thank you, Darlene.