A very interesting experiment is taking place at Yale University these days.
Because of an exployees' strike of 1,400 service workers, the students have been faced with cleaning their own bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as their dormitories.
While most of the 10,000 students were prepared intellectually to cope with the tough Yale curiculum, very few knew anything about how to clean a bathroom or make a bed. It was changed all of them, as I discovered when I visited a family who had a Yalie home for Thanksgiving.
His mother said proudly, while we were sitting in the Whitman living room. "Ezra knows now to hang up a suit in a closet."
"Aw Ma," said Ezra. "Don't make such a big deal of it."
But Mr. Whitman chimed in, "Not only that, he knows how to clean a bathtub, and he's only a junior."
"You must be very proud of him," I said.
"Proud isn't the word," Mrs. Whitman said. "Do you know that this morning he put his socks, his shirt and his underwear in the laundry hamper without being told?"
"And they say the kids aren't getting an education these days," I said.
"Ezra, would you like to show everybody how you make your bed at Yale?
"I could tell Ezra was embarrassed. "I'm on vacation, Mom. I don't want to think about school."
"Before Ezra went to Yale this fall he always threw his coat on the floor at the front door," Mr. Whitman said. "Now he hangs it on the banister. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes."
"I wish my kid could do that," I said.
"It sounds difficult," Ezra said, "But actually, once you get the hang of it, it's not that hard. You see, instead of just dropping your coat on the floor, you take it off and carry it to the banister. Of course, it takes practice."
Mrs. Whitman said, "The kids who go to Harvard, Princeton and MIT still throw their coats on the floor. Only Yale has a program in coat-hanging."
Mr. Whitman said. "Ezra knows how to wash a frying pan."
"I don't believe it." I said. "And he's only 21 years old. Doesn't the pressure get to you sometimes?"
Ezra replied, "Sure it does; but when the going gets tough, you rise to it. Frankly, I never thought when I went to Yale that I'd ever have to wash a frying pan - and neither did any of the other kids. But the one thing I've learned is that food tastes lousy if you don't wash your frying pan. Our chemistry teacher showed us why."
Mrs. Whitman beamed. "I know you're not going to believe this, but Ezra now knows how to put the garbage out to be picked up by the trashmen."
"I thought you didn't do that until you went to graduate school," I said.
"We didn't in the past. But Yale has a remedial program in grabage," Ezra said. "They found for the first time that undergraduates could handle it. My college advisor said ought to think about going into the trash business. He says I have a natural bent for it."
I looked at Ezra's proud parents.
"I never thought I'd live to see the day when a college student could hang up his own suit in the closet, put his dirty laundry in a hamper, wash a frying pan and know how take out the garbage."
"And make his own bed." Mrs. Whitman added.
"Yale has made a man out of you, Ezra," I told him.
"We have a lot to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving," Mr. Whitman said contentedly.
"Say Ezra, how are you on cleaning dirty windows?"
"I'm sorry." Ezra said huffily, "I don't do windows."