Monday, February 13, 2012

Today's backhanded compliment

Head of core facility: "So.... How long until you graduate?"
Me: "Ummm... Wait, what did you say?"
Head of core: "When will you get your degree?"
Me: "About 6 years ago. I'm a postdoc. Looking for a job as an assistant professor "
Head of core: "Oh, I'm sorry. You just look so young."
Me: "Umm.... Thanks, I guess.... I'll go back to writing that grant now, OK?"
Although I was tempted, I avoided the snide comment that was lurking in the recess of my overwhelmed mind. Personally, I think I'll chalk it up to cluelessness on the part of the Head of core facility. After all, my complete lack of sleep and disheveled appearance come from my two lovely children, not rough nights on the town. If there is any doubt, you'll find Cherrios in  my pocket and a Dora the Explorer app on my phone. The snot stain on my shirt is not my own.

At some point I'm sure I'll be flattered by such statements, but it rubs me the wrong way right now, especially as I'm in the middle of a job search and trying to portray myself as being mature, focused, and no longer pre-pubescent....

And then I got carded at the liquor store.



  1. Awkward. But definitely go with complimentary in the sense of looking young.

    I got a "Thank you, young lady" yesterday and almost fell over, given that I've gotten an increase of "ma'am"s in recent years. Depends on who is looking at us, I guess! :)

    1. As with most things in my life, I'll try to focus on the essential "goodness" in the situation.

      And perhaps change my wardrobe a bit...

      In retrospect, I must have been wearing a winter hat, 'cause there's no way anyone would see my graying temples and think I was young... :-P

  2. ps: though I completely understand the wanting to be seen as professionally of a certain age and level. **validation for that**

  3. "The snot stain is not my own" Thanks for making me laugh. Last week I was told twice that I was 25 or 26. Never mind that I mentioned how long I've been teaching and how if you add up the years I must have been a prodigy. (and if I was, would I be teaching there?) As my mom says, I'll appreciate it when I'm her age. Though I did consider grey highlights when I was interviewing for jobs.

    1. Funny you mention the grey highlights - I was planning a post about a trend I had heard at Harvard.

      Apparently all the Junior Profs (I believe the story said mainly men, but it's been over a year since I read the story) were going to the salon so they could get grey highlights and become more distinguished/respected.

      When I heard the story I was both amused and somewhat appalled. Who gives a flying leap what a person looks like. That don't make a good person...

  4. i just got tenure. during our prospective grad student weekend, I was asked by >1 potential student, whose lab i worked in. it's kinda nice though!