The other day I was standing in line at a local eatery to acquire some take-out food so that I could have that cherished experience of eating at my desk, when the person next to me in line asked:
Aren't you [insert my real name]?
Other person: I work in the Development Office at the university, and we were just talking about you. You have children, don't you?
Me: I have one child, a daughter.
Other person: How old is she?
Me: [insert tween age]
Other person: I remember when my daughters were that age. [insert rambling reminiscence, at some point during which we both acquire our food]. Well, it was great to talk to you. [leaves]
Do I really want to know who "we" are and why the development office at my large university was discussing me and my offspring?
Imaginary scenario #1 in the Development Office:
Person 1: One of our alums was asking if there are any women faculty in the science departments. I know there are some. Do you know anything about them?
Person 2: What about that woman in the X Department? There was something written about her in that boring and crass glossy magazine the university publishes.
Person 1: Oh that's right, now I remember. She seems kind of strange. I wonder what her kids are like.
Preferred imaginary scenario #2 in the Development Office:
Person 1: I am so tired of chasing after big donors who are only interested in the athletics program or having their name on a plaque in a corridor of some biomedical building. I wish we could highlight something different for a change.
Person 2: Perhaps we could try to get more money for physical sciences research at the University. The physical sciences are central to most major issues facing the world today, and some physical sciences faculty at this university are doing fascinating research.
Person 1: That's so true. For example, there's that professor over in the X Department. I was reading about her research and how she manages her career and family life. Maybe that's the kind of faculty we should be supporting.
Person 2: Yes, I agree completely, especially if she can use the prefix nano in the name of some of her research projects.
9 months ago