Wednesday, May 02, 2007

You Know You're Socially Inept When..

You know you're socially inept when you are happy when the dental hygienist goes back to torturing your teeth so that you can stop making chit-chat, a skill you do not possess in abundance.

Actually, my very nice dental hygienist and I found common ground today on the topic of how to schedule fun and interesting activities for our kids during the summer. Our kids go to some of the same summer day camps, and we compared notes on which ones our kids like best, which ones fill up within hours of registration opening in FEBRUARY, and which ones only go until 4:30 each day, making it difficult for the kids of working parents to participate. We shared amazement over the fact that we have to start organizing our summers starting in February. My husband and I try to organize our daughter's summer with a good balance of camps, unstructured time at home with one or both of us, and travel. It all works out, but it requires a lot of organizing far in advance, something else at which I don't excel.

26 comments:

Hana- san said...

I was just browsing and I found your blog. I find it ironic that I happened to stumble upon yours because I am getting ready to go back to school for physics. I aspire to either work with research or teach. I am also a woman. My point (I have two actually) is that you just gave me an immense amount of hope. I am a bit intimidated thinking of all of the calculus classes and late nights spent studying. And also to think that I will be entering a field dominated by men. So thank you! My other point is I am also quite socially inept and I have often thought the very same things when the dental hygenist goes back to work on my teeth. I'm not very good at chit chat. That being said, I'm finished here. You've inspired me to keep going.

Anonymous said...

If only I could find a hairdresser who would work in tandem with a dental hygenist. They could small-talk to each other, and I'd get two things out of the way at once.

Science PhD Mom said...

I have never understood the obligation dental hygienists feel to chat idly with you while they scrape away at your teeth. How fun is a one-sided conversation for most people? Even if they say something that you could chat about, your mouth is too full of the vacuum tube & their hands to do more than burble through saliva at them. I don't understand, I really don't.

lady macleod said...

Very interesting blog. I love the list! I enjoy reading your insights.

In truth I am a "ruthless hardass" and apparently it is genetic as my daughter has been given that label as well. We are thinking of having t-shirts made.

crickett

Humanbeingsfirst said...

Dear FSP

One of the reasons I find your blog interesting is that it reflects how the simple ordinary American folks are, the kind of things that they worry about, and the sort of perspectives they bring to bear.

Perhaps it is only me that sees there is a war on, that a nuclear attack might be in the making, and all the laws have been constructed in this nation to easily institute martial law?

If one walks down any mainstreet USA, there is hardly any signs that there is a war on.

People are busy in their lives. In their mundane lives. In their every day lives diligently pursuing their 'American Dreams'. Visits to dental hygenists, summer camp with kids, and all the other normal ordinary things that we all enjoy.

Thus the popularity of this blog is very interesting. And not just this one, but a majority of blogs that are popular on the web appear to be about the mundane things in everyday life. I too enjoy this and other similar blogs, for it gives a little distraction from the worries and troubled conscience which prevent sleep!

And perhaps the others are in the same boat?

Are other readers escaping from reality to take a breather when they come visit FSP, or are they unaware of the gross and stark reality of people being killed by the largess of American tax payers fueling the invasion of other nations?

Hannah Arendth's 'A Report on the Banality of Evil' may be appearing in many redux versions when this period is ever over. Many sorrowful PhD thesis will be written, and many an academicians will get tenure on the profundity of their work of this period - but only after it is concluded. Not when it is contemporaneous!

Regardless of why we come here, the FSP brings a moment of levity, a moment of distraction, to remind me at least, of how life should be like for everyone, not just the privileged few hundred million in the United States, but all 6 billion on the planet!


Regards
Zahir.

P.S. I won't mind if this comment is deleted. It certainly does intrude in the moment of trivialities of life with matters more urgent and serious!

Anna said...

I think it's quite normal to dislike chit-chat at the dentist, especially when your ability to speak is being hindered by some people/equipment setting up camp between your jaws.

Mike3550 said...

I feel even more socially inept as the hygenist puts equipment in my mouth as she asks me a question!

notunma said...

On the having to organise things way in advance - being from India, and working in the US, i find this structured approach and super-planned approach to things very disconcerting and unnatural. True, it makes everything very efficient, but hey, is efficiency everything? It is weird that people have to plan everything in advance - married couples have to use their online calendars to schedule appointments with each other and the like. You have to plan weeks in advance to visit a friend ( coz everybody has plans you see). Is this an unavoidable aspect of a developed nation that thrives on efficiency?

Auntie Em said...

As someone who has changed hairdressers because of 'intimacy issues' I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who's rather not chat in the chair. I love Anon's suggestion (dentist & hairdresser in one go) but it would probably mean growing out my fringe (bangs?)

dragonfruitpink said...

I find it comforting a professor such as yourself thinks about things like chit-chat with dental hygenists. I attend a large research university...and sometimes I find in myself a great hatred for my professors. Eventually I'll stop doing that I figure...until then I'll read your blog.

Eric said...

I'm just surprised you have time for this.

Threat Assessment & Response Canada said...

I wonder what the hygenists think after a day of having to chit-chat to people? (I use "to" as opposed to "with" on purpose here.)

I guess it's part of their job. I think I'd go absolutely batty!

oh... wait... I AM batty.

.... never mind. :)

Amelie said...

one of the advantages of living in a foreign country and not speaking the language very well: no chit chat. I can express how I want my hair (well, more or less, anyway) but I cannot do chit chat (even if I wanted to...)

Crabby McSlacker said...

This is such a relief! I thought it was just me who hated the obligatory small talk at the dentist and at the hair salon.

I love the idea, anonymous, of the joint session with the stylist and hygenist chatting away and leaving me alone!

I tried going to a sylist who didn't speak much English but it backfired. He still felt obliged to make conversation, but neither of us could understand each other very well. Lots of repeated questions and my face would hurt by the end from trying to smile pleasantly to hide my incomprehension.

PS, FSP: still trying to find the right blue house to mow the lawn. Who knew how many blue houses were out there?

Juankydanzas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crabby McSlacker said...

What an odd coincidence! Juanky is also a fan of my blog too! I expect others of you may soon receive a visit.

I actually fell for it and went over there and commented. (And I don't speak Spanish).

Ancarett said...

I have very congenial relations with two dental hygienists and one of the former receptionists at the dentist's office. Parenting, as you say, can be a great way to come together ('cause when I mention that I teach history at the local U? They always say "I hated history!").

You're right about the work involved in scheduling kids for summer activities. Last year we tried something new with autistic youngest and signed her up for the city-sponsored integrated day camp. It was a total disaster and she didn't even get a week out of the four we'd hoped to have. Didn't do my research plans any good, either! This spring we got her into her accustomed special needs camp for three weeks and are much relieved that at least one worry is over!

Global Girl said...

Funny - I actually like chit-chatting with hairdressers and dental hygenists. I'm liking it better and better the longer I've been in grad school, probably because the people around me are all, well, a bit socially inept. I like talking to people and getting to know people. Picking people's brains is one of my favorite things to do. Hairdressers and dental hygenists are so refreshingly... normal in that regard :)

Makes me wonder if I could make it as a professor. I don't really want to, due to the complete disregard I see around me for other rigorous fields of study, like psychology, gender and women's studies, sociology, organizational structures and psychology, but I wonder if needing to be somewhat socially inept is a screener for professors. I hope I'm wrong, though.

Female Science Professor said...

Global Girl, don't give up. The way science/academic culture has been for a long time self-selected for classic nerd-type people, but I think it would be excellent if this changed -- excellent for the vitality and diversity of science and academia. I give this advice to grad students (female and male) at my university all the time. They worry that they can't be professors because they aren't like their advisors. I say "If you leave academia, there will only be people like your advisors. If you become a professor, then there will be people like you who are smart AND nice."

pluto said...

Well, great, there are enough of us like-minded folks here to form a co-op where we cut each other's hair with the promise of total silence.

(Lately I've taken to feigning sleep in the hairdresser's chair. And it saves you having to meet their eyes in the damn mirror.)

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of nice socially adept people in academia, but it is a nice refuge for those who are not. Personally, I would call myself "socially quirky" ;) Also, I wouldn't say social inpetness is so much a requirement as simply tolerated among academics. For example, when a job candidate started eating off other people's plates at dinner, or pulling out books from the shelves and leafing through them during the one-on-one interviews, we geekily discussed poor prefrontal function and laughed it away. When we compared notes and found an undercurrent of contempt and condescension in his questions and responses to female but not to male faculty, that counted against him.

That may reflect a relatively recent change, though, going by the way some of the faculty seemed to value unbridled (whether justified or not) cockiness while I was a grad student. But then that department had a 100% male faculty body...

Noemi said...

Itt's so nice to know that I'm not the only person in the world that just can't do chit-chat. The only thing that saves me when I go to the dentist is the fact that my dental hygenist is my sister so it's not chit-chat.

Jessica said...

It's funny that our hygenist who I have been seeing twice a year for nearly 15 years, always has a great conversation with me and I never say a word! I've learned the art of winking and nodding with dental tools in my mouth, she gets what I mean too! Now that is a great working relationship eh?

Sophie Claire said...

Thank you for the smiles! Actually, since I live in such a vacuum, it's lovely to be able to ask my dental hygienist to tell me about her experiences in school, and what was most important, and how her alma mater manages to coordinate training of hygienists on both new and old equipment. I had a great time, and she seemed to enjoy telling me -- and since it was all about her experiences, not mine, then all I had to do was listen and occasionally smile. And I learned a lot about dental school -- perhaps my daughter will find this information useful one day? :)

Clever Monkey said...

Even worse: your dentist and the dental assistant feel they need to ask you questions, even though you have been shot up with anesthetic and a rubber dam placed in your mouth.

At least they go back to chatting about the weather and their pets when they actually start making tooth dust.

tom said...

I am reading the first womans comment and then get stuck on the fact that she has children.. why are people so emersed in thier children .. its as though society requires us to overpopulate the earth
This is my thinking that usually reminds me that I am socially inept
When I say these things
It never occurs to me that no one else does