Saturday, June 18, 2005

Dental Damn.

I sat on the vinyl seat recliner, hoping for a reprieve. As the sonicating water pick sounded off against my teeth I had to listen to the worst one way conversation ever.

"So... you're going to move to Boston to go to Fancypants University? I just don't understand people like you. Look at you -- you're a good looking guy, you have everything going for you and still you want to be in school for so long? What are you going to do for money? How is all of this education going to help you at all? Me, I just don't like picking up a book. What's the point in using your mind like that? I really don't understand professional students like you. When are you going to enter the real world and do some real work?"

I'd had enough of my dental hygenist. Everytime I go the dentist's office I've got to hear some tripe about my wife being hot, now I have to hear about how my life's work is worthless. Finally, I raised my hand, since that's the only sensible way to object. She removed the instruments from my mouth and I said, "Listen, can we just focus on my teeth? The last thing I need is this conversation right now." As I spoke, drool slipped down the side of my mouth. Great. Way to to be diplomatic, Vavoom.

As she quietly put the smack down on my gums, I started thinking. This is the thousandth time I've heard someone slam student-scientists. Why are people like me seen as a bad thing? We work 6-7 days a week doing research, with high hopes of helping society. We teach classes and train the next generation of scientists to eventually take our place. Sure, I'm a student. Yes, I've been in school a long time, but why does that matter? I work my ass off trying to scientifically make a difference. Why is that such a bad thing?

We've all heard the hackneyed expression, "It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around." I don't think I'll find the cure for cancer (but let's all hope that I do) or demonstrate cold fusion. Still, I'm doing my part. Isn't that enough?

Do you work in a field that is often criticized? How do you feel that you can best serve society, free from fame and fortune?

23 Comments:

Blogger thc said...

Yes, I do work in a field that is often criticized. Because I help people create and preserve wealth, I am a bad, bad man.

1:42 PM  
Blogger RT said...

Excuse me??? Since when is a student-scientist a bad thing?

I started to make a crack about how your dentist said that your wife is hot, and then said how good looking you are (where's the pics???!) ... But then you made that comment about "student-scientist" being a bad thing.

What the heck? A student-scientist is a good thing... A Great thing! Think about it this way, a teacher merely teaches, a student learns. Foundations are important, but new discoveries are essential. Never, ever lose that student instinct! Money, btw, is as immaterial as the concept of a "real world".

For goodness sakes, man, get some self respect and quit letting these imbeciles dissuade you!

2:18 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

rt: Take another look at my post. I'm defending myself. I can't quite fight back when they're in the midst of a procedure, after all. I'm not being dissuaded. I assure you of that.

2:38 PM  
Blogger RT said...

That's just it, Vavoom. Don't defend yourself, assert yourself! You have absolutely no reason to defend what you do! I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm insulting you, but if that's what it takes to get you to stand your ground... Then I guess I have to say it, because I believe it's important.

Granted, you may not have been able to say anything during the procedure, but it gave you time to think of the best response, didn't it?

2:53 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

My field is widely praised (teaching). Now, if they could just find the money to match the rhetoric.

3:06 PM  
Blogger actonbell said...

I think your life sounds great! I respect grad students. If I'd had the confidence, I'd have been one, myself (majored in anthropology, thought about going on with it, but didn't). We know someone who has spent his adult life studying neutrinos (massless particles). He and his wife (a writer) have traveled and lived interesting lives. It's the journey, not the money!

4:01 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

rt: I appreciate your conviction in the matter. You've been a good blog buddy. However, I simply refuse to waste my time duking it out with these gum torturers over such matters. Would I really have changed her opinion on the matter? Everytime I see stuff like this I usually sigh and move on.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I appreciate the contribution you make, Vavoom!

Thanks for putting in the unpaid hours, putting up with silly nay-sayers, and doing without so we can hopefully have a better life.

5:04 PM  
Blogger RT said...

"Would I really have changed her opinion on the matter?"

Well yeah, you may have changed her opinion, had you stated your opinion.

But that's neither here nor there... I obviously haven't made myself clear. And I can't think of any better words, so I'll give it up for now...

Please don't think I was trying to be disrespectful in this matter. You know I love ya!

5:40 PM  
Blogger Meow said...

Everyone wants different things.
If you've found the woman of your dreams and she's o.k. with it fuck the lot of 'em! Most women wouldn't want to bust their chops to get bills paid and food on the table, so of course there are a lot of chicks who will poo poo the likes of "the league of extraordinary gentlemen". They should shut their pie holes and not give an opinion unless asked. As for the hot wife, if she's o.k. with it, why should you?

9:35 PM  
Blogger An80sNut said...

Actually, I can kind of see where RT is coming from here, Vavoom. Even though, I see your point clearly. Some people will never value your choices in life as much as you do. But, there are times when people underappreciate what you do. Someone out there had to come up with the idea and technology behind bonding agent, fillings, sealant, x-rays, anti-inflamitory drugs, antibiotics and even the new laser treatments. It sure wasn't the standart dentist plying their trade. They learn about it via science journals and classes they take from people who read science journals which come from people in a lab working on these things. I'd like to talk to someone who is upset at the money NASA spends on space missions and ask them if they have pans coated in teflon.

As for my fields, people always complain about how their luggage is handled (I think that's why more of them have wheels now) and when it comes to my music journalism... there is alway a story you missed, a story people didn't care about and a story that had inaccuracies. Such is life. B)

1:01 AM  
Blogger dreadcow said...

Some bitch on a chat room once called me a baby killer. To which I proceeded to fall off my chair laughing.

Usually the work I do is appreciated, and I'm told so quite often... except by those weird goth kids who are anti-establishment for no other reason than because they're friends think it's uncool. Hypocrites.

5:55 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

I'm quite lucky in a sense that when I tell people what I do, they often go like 'Wow' instead of 'Are you nuts?'. Keep your head up Vavoom. :)

I'm curious though. What is your research field? You seem to know a fair bit about microfluidics.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

kat: Oh, you know... I do this and that, nothing spectacular. I'm not really an expert in any particular field. I must have gotten lucky when we last discussed microfluidic devices.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

I hate the dentist. Last time I was there the hygentist kept pinching my lip. I didnt say anything, I kept my mouth shut, so to speak. But toward the end of my hour process my lip felt like it was bleeding. Afterword when she took her gloves off I realized that she had a deformed hand. Her fingers bent in ways I didnt think was possible. So...in one way I'm glad I didnt bitch, cause I would have prob hurt her feelings. I'm not sure if I will go back to her though, cause the thought of her working around in my mouth is kinda creeping me out. What is the point to this story? Who in the hell knows.

4:27 PM  
Blogger European said...

Time for a new Dentist!!!

6:48 PM  
Blogger A Fashionista said...

Vavoom, when the hell are you going to be done with all this dental work? Are they dentists from hell? Next time write on a slip of paper a few phrases like,
Shut the fuck up, Mind your own business, and Kiss my ass and hold them up at the opportune moments. LOL

8:49 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Good idea. Could use those a few other times as well.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Jimbobb2 said...

First and most important, find another dentist...Jeez. Yeah, I get tired of having my face slapped when I mention my long career in health care. Rarely does anyone recognize that the vast majority of caregivers are dedicated and work like crazy to fix what ails you. I don't hear about the positive outcomes that are the result of our efforts, I hear about the long waits, the terrible parking, food not fit for a dog, "I never saw a nurse during my stay", etc. Everyone wants the best, most modern care and technology delivered up to them by white starched uniformed nurses and doctors who hold their hands. Rarely does anyone confess their ailment is often self induced nor how we as a society should pay for all that hand holding & technology. Keep up your studies for as long as it takes...research and science don't have to produce a product to be worthwhile.

7:47 AM  
Blogger thimblesee said...

OK, now. I've got a question for you that you might have overlooked: do you respect the intellectual capacity of your dental hygenist? I have found that often when I am upset that someone doesn't like me, the naked truth is, that I don't like them at all, but still want them to like me. Keep on keeping on, young fella!

7:12 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

thimblesee: Absolutely, I respect everyone's intellectual capacity. Maybe that's why this crap gets me so pissy when it happens... I'll keep truckin'!

7:18 PM  
Blogger Rattie said...

At least your in the "hard" sciences. I don't get much respect for being in the social sciences (or "soft" sciences)because I've been told that I'm not doing "real science". You may make the great discovery someday!

4:14 PM  
Blogger The Disgruntled Chemist said...

I understand completely, one professional science student to another. Although I still look really young, so I get more of the "good for you, sonny" than the "what are you still doing in school" replies.

But I often run into those people who wonder why I don't have a "real job" or, worse, insinuate that I couldn't hack it in a real job. Jerks.

12:09 AM  

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