April 10, 2004

Week of Loathing (Day the

Week of Loathing (Day the Seventh): Sanitation Grade Inflation

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” are sick and tired of whiny students and whinier journalists prattling on about grade inflation. It seems as if one spends even a few minutes on a college campus, or peruses The Chronicle of Higher Education, one simply can’t eschew caustic remarks on this purportedly pernicious phenomenon.

“Everyone gets ‘A’s at Harvard,” spouts one student (who, coincidentally, did not get accepted to Harvard). “It’s so easier there,” she continues, ungrammatically. Naturally, our fevered student is not deeply concerned about the lax education that Fair Harvard offers its pupils; rather, she thinks its deleterious grade inflation is going to make it harder for her to get into the law school of her choice. Oh, the horror!

Professors seem no more levelheaded about grade inflation. “Back in my day,” exclaims one Good Doctor, “you had to earn a grade. Now, all you have to do is fog a mirror and you get at least a ‘B.’” Oh, dear. Society really has reached its nadir, hasn’t it?

Yet, amongst so much feckless complaining, a far more important type of grade inflation is sweeping the nation: “Sanitation grade inflation.”

What’s sanitation grade inflation? Well, dear reader, let us answer with an example. Have you ever—and we mean ever—gone into a restaurant that did not bravely sport a plaque that boasted of its "A" grade for its supposed sanitational excellence? We, the crack staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” sure haven’t. And we’ve been to some seedy eateries, to be sure.

We know what you’re thinking: Sanitation grade inflation is so much less important than the old-fashioned pedagogical kind. We beg to differ.

For grade inflation, in fact, is a fairly harmless—though irksome—phenomenon. Imagine the following scenario: A white-hatted chucklehead leaves Dyspepsia State University with a 3.5 GPA and is a functional illiterate. Not hard to imagine, is it? Surely, this erstwhile frat-boy is the personification of collegiate grade inflation; had grade inflation not existed, he would probably still be stuck in third grade.

Yet what effects do such academic hijinks have on us? Answer: Probably none. Our knuckle-dragging college grad lands himself steady work as a white-collar pencil-pusher at some investment firm, and all is well with the world. Sure, this guy may be an irritant to stand next to on the subway—especially when he is expatiating on the intricacies of Roger Clemens’ ERA with his buddies—but we can be safe in assuming that almost no harm has been done.

In regard to sanitation grade inflation, this is simply not the case. Imagine, if you will, dear reader, that an establishment—let’s say Denny’s—with an obviously sub-par hygienic record lands an “A” grade on its sanitation inspection. And it receives this grade even though the government inspector must overlook a bevy of infractions: A dog licking the meat in the kitchen; waitresses using french-fries as hair "scrunchies"; &c. You get the picture. What effects do such exercises in uncleanliness have on us? Answer: Food poisoning, hepatitis, vomiting.

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” far prefer the effects of grade inflation to the dangers of sanitation grade inflation. So, the next time you hear someone maundering on about the indignities of grade inflation, tell him to get a meal at Waffle House. That ought to fix him.

Posted at April 10, 2004 02:50 PM | TrackBack