Sunday, August 23, 2009

when misdirections go awry.

yesterday i had just run a race and was idling at the finish line, eating a bagel.

a young man, standing next to me, nods to me. i nod back. we get to talking, and he asks me what i do.

"i teach math," i replied. [1]

his friends also teach math. "which grade?" i ask. (they teach at a liberal arts college.) eventually i ask him what his job is.

"oh, i'm a physics postdoc at cmu."

i should have just said that i was a post-doc.

[1] which is true. most non-academics i've encountered do not know what a post-doc is, and "i'm a mathematician" conversations get a little boring after a while.

it's not unlike telling someone that i have 8 fingers. as it happens, i have as many as 10, but it remains true that i have 8.

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