Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Risky Move.


Well, we had another group party yesterday. It was a going away party for one of our group members. Once again, everyone was jockeying for position to sit next to our advisor. What the hell is wrong with these people? You'll recall that I complained about this behavior before.

By some stroke of "luck" I ended up sitting next to my research advisor for half of the evening. Still, everyone was trying their best to suck up. My advisor then asked me the following question, "Vavoom, you've been in this group for a little while. What do you think its biggest weakness is?"

I thought about it and looked straight in my advisor's eyes and said, "The biggest weakness this group suffers from is the same weakness every group suffers from. Everybody is more focused on kissing your ass than doing their work. You know, I'm sick of that. If you want me to kiss your ass forget about it. It'll never happen. Instead, I'll do the best work I can and if you like it, good. If you don't like it, good. I just don't give a shit if you're some famous scientist. Your approval is nice, but not necessary. What's the worst you can do, write me a bad letter of recommendation? That won't change anything in my life. I'll still be the same person and I'll still love science."

None of you know my advisor. An intimidating person, with a penchant for hammering students when they're out of line, my advisor is not one to tangle with. Professors are frightening figures, made all powerful by the system in which they work. It was a risky move. For some reason, I had to do it. I simply can't stand for that sort of thing anymore. I've spent years trying curry the favor of my superiors. Everytime I've tried that, it's ended in disaster. This time, I'm going to do things right.

My advisor sat back, slowly nodded, looked up in the air and then stared back at me. "Here it comes," I thought.

"Vavoom, you're my kind of guy," my advisor replied, "You're going to get everything you want with that kind of attitude. Yes, you're right, I am going to judge you based on performance alone. It makes me sick when people kiss my ass. People don't realize it, but I always know when they're doing it and it always is a big strike in my books. It's refreshing to find a student that's willing to be straight with me. I like your style."

Just like that, a gale of fresh air swept through my soul. All of my energies are focused in the right direction. No game playing. No politics. Just science. I think I'm going to like this new group after all.

16 Comments:

Blogger Lady of the House said...

Wow. That's so great that you spoke your mind. I don't know if I would've had the guts to say that.

12:16 PM  
Blogger The Lazy Iguana said...

Last time I told my boss I was not going to kiss any ass, I had to find another job :)

Anyway, now the door is WIDE OPEN for you to mess with the ass kissers! Get digital voice recorder! Make up funny signs that you can anonymously post in the lab! When someone gets too drunk and passes out, paint their nose brown and take a photo, then do something funny to it with photoshop! The sky is the limit!

1:50 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I like your style too, although I may have been tempted to use a more delicate delivery :)

5:20 PM  
Blogger An80sNut said...

I agree with Andrew there. I don't think that I could have come across that bold but then again I can see that directness as an asset from the way your advisor has been described. Congrats!

5:55 PM  
Blogger Moose said...

You are my hero.

8:04 PM  
Blogger thc said...

There's hope for academic science after all.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Danilo da Silva said...

indeed it is difficult to say things like that, congrats for doing it!! Seriously, working with brown nosers is really a pain, but... they do get ahead many times. Too bad for me I dont have these skills...

10:46 PM  
Blogger actonbell said...

Wow--maybe there is a god! Good job, vavoom.

5:32 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Well done. In my 23-year corporate career, I learned that the best way to avoid conflict was to instigate conflict.

Strange as it sounds, but it worked for me to ensure everything was in the open and was being dealt with.

I'll bet he'll write a great letter of recommendation!

5:58 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I am the next Amazing Kreskin!

I totally predicted that reaction when you said he ended up sitting next to you all evening: of course he did because you were the only one not trying to shove your head up his, er, bum.

Congrats to you, and phtttt on those people who have been sucking up and causing you problems!

8:45 AM  
Blogger dreadcow said...

Balls, my friend! BALLS!

Wish I could get away with saying stuff like that around here sometimes. The Army has a lot of ass kissing going on. When I get my rank of sergeant in a few years, then my time will come.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is telling someone you are not a kiss ass really a form of ass kissing? "I do not need to kiss ass, my work stands on its own."

3:00 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

anonymous: To be honest, I said it in a rather brusk way. I made it clear that I won't play the game. Chances are you know me. You decide. I usually say what I mean.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just noting how other people around you might have taken it. "This damn new guy says we are all ass kissers. Says he is not and does not need to be. What a jerk."

4:16 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

anonymous: Actually, they all acted embarassed when I said it. Since then, they've actually been nicer to me. Plus, you know I'm not going to kiss ass just to fit in. Screw that.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Whit said...

I just appreciate the fact that you said it and THEN DIDN"T BACK PEDAL. That's the worst...when someone makes a really strong stand and then hems & haws to play it down. Glad it worked out to your benefit.

8:12 PM  

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