Post Academic

Even more awkward academia-related interactions

Posted in First Person by Arnold Pan on July 29, 2010
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As promised, I’m continuing with my series of *even more* awkward academia-related interactions.  While the last post dealt with the uncomfortable run-ins that might happen with people you don’t know well or only a little bit, this piece covers some squirm-inducing experiences I’ve had with people I know pretty well to very well.  The thing is, those crossed signals can sometimes be worse unbeknownst to you, because it’s easy to take your interactions with the folks you’re familiar with for granted…

"Union Station Urinals, Toronto" by Jason Doucette (Creative Commons license)

Don’t get stuck in the bathroom: So I was attending MLA a few years ago, when I opened the door to a convention hall bathroom only to notice one colleague of mine ask another colleague of ours about his job interviews.  I was in a purely voyeuristic position (*not* in that way!), because they were over at the urinals or on the other side of something or other and couldn’t have known that I was there and listening.  Anyhow, the first colleague–someone I know fairly well and known from this point on as “PQ” for “Prying Questioner” –asked with brutal shamelessness the question most of us never ask in such a bald-faced way: “Where did you interview?”  I don’t know if the other fellow was caught off-guard or is a networking-type himself, but he answered that he was interviewing at one of the best, best schools in the country!  Now “PQ” was probably the one who was blindsided, since I can imagine that someone who’s nosy enough not have any scruples is also prone to measure himself against others.

Maybe they didn’t mind getting stuck in the bathroom together since they were comparing notes, but it’s not anywhere I’d want to be trapped, forcing to answer with no escape hatch.  And yet, I got my comeuppance for the spying, even though I fled the men’s room…

Find out how I got my comeuppance below the fold…


More awkward academia-related interactions

Posted in First Person by Arnold Pan on July 27, 2010
Tags: , ,

"Hotel elevators" by Wesha (Public Domain)

My last post about talking to the guy on the airplane about academia–and postacademicinnyc’s comment about how to extricate oneself from such chit-chat–got me thinking about other awkward conversations I’ve been in or seen.  This time, we’ll limit the uncomfortableness to academic-on-academic action.  I guess the anecdotes would be more timely for convention-interview time, but these cringingly entertaining stories might whet your appetite for what’s just around the corner.  (By the way, the new 2011-12 academic job wiki is already up!)

After reading the stories, you can decide how you want to read the “more” in the title, whether in quantity–as in “more examples of awkward interactions”–or in degree–as in “more embarrassingly awkward interactions.”  Let us know about your own good (or bad) ones, too.

Getting stuck in the elevator: This awkward situation involved my friend being caught in the elevator with someone who had just interviewed him at MLA.  I was in there with them and happened to know the interviewer socially, better than my friend did actually.  So in some ways, I could be to blame here, because my greetings to the interviewer probably set a friendly, casual tone that may have gotten my friend in trouble…

You’ll have to go below the fold to find out what happened!