Hartnett Should Get Past the Sandwich

To the editors:

The recent column “What Do You Do?” by Kevin Hartnett ’03 (Feb. 11) raises interesting questions about individuals’ and society’s perceptions of various occupations, but he falls prey to his own criticism. Hartnett invokes John Dewey, arguing that a person’s job is not the full measure of her individuality. Yet, in his assessment of a Subway sandwich maker, Hartnett “can’t get past the sandwich,” arguing that the worker’s individuality is snuffed out by her job. Hartnett cannot conceive of any way that she could find meaning in her life or make an impact in the world outside of her job. He simultaneously criticizes society for reducing a person’s impact to his occupation, and then does so himself. All we can do in observing her is “lose [our] appetites or vomit.”

Something tells me John Dewey would have been able to look deeper, and “get past the sandwich.”

Andrew D. Bradt ’02

Feb. 11, 2002