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emmy [AT] curious-notions {dot} net
December 2008
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Sometimes I miss all subtext

The other day, I was helping a coworker, we’ll call him Menace. For some reason, despite being a computer engineer, the guy has no basic Unix skills and lacks basic curiousity to figure things out on his own. Two very base things I would expect from anyone with the title or position of computer engineer. Which meant that when he can’t do something, I get to either do it for him or tell him how to do it considering the current development platform for our latest hardware is Linux. Half of me wants him to not learn, because it’ll keep him from fucking up the box. (I do that well enough on my own thanks and that’s with years of experience on him.) Half of me wants him to figure stuff out on his own so he’ll stop asking me questions. None of me wants to have to teach him things that 1) I learned on my own just because I knew I needed the skillset and 2) I learned years ago.

Right, there is a story in here, not just whining. I was going through some very basic stuff with him when my advisor and her friend LK stopped in. Now LK has worked with my advisor in our lab a few times. They’ve been friends for many years. They are also as different as night and day. My advisor is dry and calm and keeps her distance for the most part from her students. LK is a whirlwind of activity and sees no reason that you shouldn’t be her best friend. Or at least share the good gossip. A month or two after I got married LK whirls into the lab and looks at me and goes “How could you get married and not tell me?!”

Again, story. I’m teaching Menace and my advisor and LK walk into the lab. Menace and I stop and we all start chatting. This would be nothing new. She asked how I was enjoying married life, we chatted our a missing labmate, they talked about getting their grades done, etc. At one point we got around to being in academia. LK and my advisor ask the Menace if he is planning on becoming a professor. Menace says, “I don’t know.” Then they turn to me and ask the same thing, “Um. No. Not really.” I get the exact same surprised look on both their faces, but I pretty much didn’t take too much notice of it.

That evening I’m telling Bear this story and he groans. “Why didn’t you just say you didn’t know??”

“Because I’m pretty sure the answer IS no. But they did seem surprised.”

Bear was no impressed with my politicking. “Most likely they didn’t expect you to tell them that.”

So apparently I’m pretty dense. It could also be because I’ve never been shy about the fact that I enjoyed some parts of being a TA. Mostly just the student parts. Not the grading or being a grunt to 3 profs. Also maybe because when they walked in, I was helping Menace, and not with research or anything. *sighs*