Friday, May 27, 2005

Hi, I'm Vavoom...

Well, I stopped by to the meet the chair of my new department today. He was a nice guy, warm and welcoming. I took a tour of our new lab space. Holy crap is it nice.

I was told to stop by what they call TGIF (Thank God It's Friday is such a lame expression -- whoever invented it will forever live in infamy in my books). TGIF is effectively a party that the department has every Friday. They order 40 pizzas, 5 cases of beer and 4 cartons of soda. I'm actually quite shy at these big events, especially ones where I don't know anybody. "Make sure to be there, you seem so charming and outgoing," the chair said "I'm sure you'll make so many friends there."

I sucked it up and went to the party. A quick pan around the room revealed about 30 people, organized in cliques of 5. I grabbed a slice of pizza and some soda and walked up to my first group. "Hi, I'm Vavoom. I don't really know anybody here, I'm new to the department. How are you guys doing?" They all looked at each other with a "who the F does this guy think he is" expression. "Sorry, I hope I'm not interrupting," I said. The leader of the clan looked at me and said, "Yeah, no problem. We don't know anybody here either, maybe you should try some other people." I couldn't believe this little shit said that to me. Was I rude to introduce myself? Nah, he was just being uppity.

I shrugged it off and went to the next group of people. There were 4 of them and they seemed to be talking as if they were trapped in a whispering gallery. "Hi, I'm Vavoom. I'm joining the department this summer. I just wanted to introduce myself. What labs do you guys work in?" This time, they just stared at me for about 30 seconds. I smiled my best smile as they ignored me and continued their conversation. I figured, "I must have been interrupting their conversation... my bad."

Finally, I found two girls talking near the pizza boxes. I approached them, again with the "Hi, I'm Vavoom. I'm a new student in this department. Just wanted to say hi." Surprisingly, the first girl actually responded, "Why are you here so early?" Jackpot. "Well, my wife and I came into town to find an apartment. We found this great place down the street... " She snapped back, in a very demeaning tone, "Well maybe you should go spend some time with your wife." I walked away, to the sound of their snickers. Maybe I was trying to hard? I was actually pretty relaxed. I'm not sure why I was getting reamed so badly out there.

For those of you that know me, you know that I'd normally take such a chilly response personally. I looked around the room and realized, these graduate students come to this event to bitch about their research advisor, blow off some steam and catch up with friends from other labs (which they may only see every Friday). Nobody was in the mood to entertain a new student.

Not a problem. When I left TGIF, I was upbeat. My time will come. Besides, I'm coming to the East Coast to make a fundamental contribution to my field of study. TGIF stuff will work itself out along the way.


Blogger Megan said...

Wow. Those people were incredibly rude. Would it have been that hard to simply include you in the conversation? I hate meeting people at those things too, though, something like that always happens to me. Although the girl may have thought you were hitting on her...screw 'em. Its easier to get to know people by working and studying with them anyway in my book...

4:50 PM  
Blogger thc said...

Next time, head straight for the beer, slam a few as fast as you can and, before you know it, you're dancing on tables and are the belle of the ball.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Davydgrey said...

Ahhhhh the rudeness of back East, I miss it so. Not! Don't feel bad Vavoom, when I was back at Boston many years ago we had a quest going, to try to get somebody on the street to smile at you if you just smiled at them. Took two weeks before anyone would.

5:52 PM  
Blogger An80sNut said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:05 PM  
Blogger An80sNut said...

It's a tribute to your character that you handled it calmly and thought it through so well. Group mentality is a fascinating thing to study. They are probably using it as a "bitch" session. Most of my co-workers wind up doing that automatically when they gather outside of the job. You did great but I'm sensing that it isn't just the weather that is cold out that way.

7:06 PM  
Blogger dreadcow said...

I'm in agreement with thc. If people are gunna be rude... time for the drunken-frat-boy/army-boy-on-leave-treatment. I would have proceeded to get absolutely beligerantly drunk and made an ass of myself.

Ya'll wanna be assholes? I'll show you asshole.

7:23 PM  
Anonymous FNPhD said...

I miss the east coast. Everyone is too nice out here.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Anandi said...

Wow, your attitude is truly to be admired Vavoom. If I had experienced that, I would have gone home and cried big fat tears into a giant piece of chocolate cake. Ick. I guess people on the West Coast really are much nicer? Even Microsoft geeks with no social skills are nicer than that bunch!

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

two words....

10:20 PM  
Blogger irishkeough said...

a good read this week

10:20 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

Anonymous: I agree. F 'em all. Who says I'm going to Harvard?

11:10 PM  
Blogger Raine said...

I can actually imagine that happening at UW; rudeness can be found everywhere. I'm all for the dancing on the tables thing!

11:23 PM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

Vavoom, don't feel too bad. I get this response from teachers that I have worked with for 7 years now. Maybe you just tried to be friendly to the already established bitchy cliques. (Though I did find the people in Boston to be particularly unfriendly, too.)

10:07 AM  
Blogger RT said...

I admire you for being able to go at all, Vavoom. Just the thought of having to spend the evening with a bunch of strangers would send me straight into a panic attack!

11:34 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

I am dumbfounded in the arrogance of your fellow graduate students. I have to give you credit with how you handled the situation with such a positive outlook.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

You know, I sort of think it's a stuffy graduate student thing, not a Boston thing. The people in the city have been really nice to us. The only people that made a slightly bad impression was my fellow students. Still, I think thats more a function of circumstance than anything else.

6:10 PM  
Blogger James d. said...

I've got to give you credit for still being willing to try out some of the other people in the room after the first group showed their kindness.
At least there was beer?
I'm wondering about the chair. Does he know this is what the TGIF sessions have turned into?

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey V, I am so glad you have your positive attitude about the whole situation. It is important to know that it is nothing personal- I am sure they are rude to most people. You have everything going for you- people such as this will not change anything. Those of us who have the pleasure of knowing you know how wonderful you are.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Mr. Snitch said...

No, no no. You're not giving them the full picture. See, Vavoom was this Eskimo on the old Felix the Cat cartoons. Whenever he'd show up, he'd say his name and cause an earthquake. Naturally, this made him very unpopular.

That's your problem right there. No one likes a guy who starts earthquakes.

9:59 PM  

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