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16 January 2009

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Sara

Thank you for this well-timed post. I am supposed to make arrangements to withdraw from grad school today, and my resolve had been weakening.

mrsdarwin

Geez, what a jerk. I hope Mr. Eminent Put-down Scientist is happy with his lot in life, which probably does not include a supportive spouse and three lovely children.

Christy P

Having just returned from my first business trip away from my nursling - this post hit home. It felt weird to sleep alone for the first time in over 2.5 years. I kept looking around my feet and reflexively sticking out my hand when descending staircases or escalators. I thought that my LL Bean schoolbag that served as my luggage for the short trip was less comfortable than a toddler in the Ergo. My breasts hurt, and I woke up in the night worried that she wouldn't want any mommymilk when I got back. The irony? It was a meeting for researchers who work on Natural Family Planning.

Such that this is not a total downer -- there were at least two bright spots, dinner with a friend who lives in DC and getting to watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. We don't get Comedy Central.

bearing

Mrsdarwin, you cannot imagine how many times I have replayed that moment in my mind and wondered what the hell was going on there. At the time, well, I was so certain that my work was substandard that I couldn't even see "wow, that was a really inappropriate comment --" you see, I rather agreed with him, and it seemed to me that he was merely giving voice to a truth that was obvious to everyone around.

So... I just slunk away as quickly as I could. Perhaps if I had been able to look about at the other scientists who were part of the conversation, my stunned expression might have elicited a supportive comment from one of the others, something that would have defused that awful silence.

As time has passed I have come to believe that one thing in play here was the Japanese scientist's failure to grasp, or possibly to give a $#!& about, certain cultural and linguistic nuances proper to a combined social/professional gathering in America among people ranging from lowly graduate students and unpublished researchers in industry to internationally known, top researchers in the field. He had a reputation in my research group of being a sort of loose cannon.

This has made me a bit more sympathetic to him, because, of course, the whole reason I was so uncomfortable there is that I had such a hard time navigating a combined social/professional gathering among people from across the eminence spectrum. I have enough trouble at after-church coffee 'n' donuts.

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