Lost in a gritty city

Lost in a gritty city

I met my favourite professor in town today. Academic encounters tend to be highly humorous because academia means social awkwardness. A high degree of it.

I recognised the professor straight away though he was pacing—not very steadily, as he was juggling his deep thoughts while walking—some distance in front of me. I sped up, caught up with him, said Hello, professor and introduced myself, in case he didn’t remember he spent the last n years collaborating with me. He did remember. He also acknowledged that it wouldn’t have been odd if he hadn’t recognised me because he had broken his glasses. (Damn it, I’m probably not getting this tense shift right and I need a tense even more in the past than past perfect. Yet, such a tense does not exist in English grammar.)

In lieu of a conversation, the professor and I exchanged our individual mutually unrelated streams of consciousness. In a rare moment when we actually actively interacted, the professor inquired whether I was still unemployed. I said I was, however, I now officially called it being self-employed. It’s the same, minus the social security benefits, plus the self-employment expenses on taxes and insurances. The professor complained about his low salary. I didn’t tell him that he should be glad he can earn enough to pay his bills, even if just enough. I also didn’t ask how much he earned.

The professor expressed some concerns about his four-year-old son, who, surprise, is a prodigy, reads in two languages and, surprise again, no one in the kindergarten likes him. No one likes smartass people. I advised the professor (because in academia, no one expects you to behave adequately, which allows me to dispense with advice to my professor) that as long as he discourages his offspring to follow a career in the humanities, everyone will be just fine. I didn’t recommend a career in IT, which I do recommend.

Owing to the lack of his glasses, the professor was more disoriented than usual. When I inquired which tram he was waiting for, he gave a me a bus number. While waiting at a tram stop. After a metaphysical discussion concerning trams and buses and the meaning of life, the professor decided for tram number seven. I made sure to wait with him and put him on the tram. He really looked lost. The encounter cheered me up. It’s refreshing to see someone who is more lost than yourself.

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Posted by Mara Eastern

I'm a sardonic blogger, snapper, scribbler and rhymer; a virtual space invader who indulges in cheerful negativism, morbid self-deprecation and bleak humour.

25 Comments

  1. I find it rare to meet such a person more lost than me….at least in my opinion everyone else seems to be so much more balanced than me, living with devoted and loving partners and having no money issues as they are constantly going off on holidays…sigh….I don’t know what I am whinging about when I’ve always been this way and always been poor……well poorer than the man next door.
    Have a good weekend.

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    1. Hm, you come across as pretty well balanced to me! I also find it rare to meet a person more confused than myself, so I really enjoyed this occasion. I was glad to be able to actually help the professor by locating his tram and putting him on it – more often I have issues locating my own tram rather than helping other people out.

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      1. So I take it you not the person to ask for directions?

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        1. Nope. If I know the way, I’m never able to explain. Don’t ask me anything and you’ll be fine.

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          1. I once lived with a woman I worried about knowing the way to the toilet and back. So message received.

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          2. Sounds more fun than it probably was…

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  2. Good morning!
    Glad you met someone you know. I never do. Reading this, makes me envision the image of an old, absentminded professor, round glasses without frames, bad-hair-day, corduroy jacket, with those leather patches sewed on the the elbow part … But then you mention he has a four-year-old-son.

    Sometimes the tenses can cause a bit of a … hassle. Ongoing present is the one I have to be careful about. We don’t have that in my own native tongue. My friend from Ružomberok had the most trouble with pluperfect while trying to learn Swedish.

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    1. Czech has three tenses as far as know – past, present, future – we use different language means than tenses to indicate things like ongoing present.

      Your mental image of my favourite professor isn’t entirely accurate – but you perfectly described another professor, down to the elbow patches, so classic! This professor I met is a level up (or down, depending on how you take it), and I doubt he even owns a jacket. He does have a young son, but it was likely some sort of “accident” because it’s his first child, he is in his fifties and his wife looks about the same age. Fun…

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  3. He sounds Sheldon’esque 🙂

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    1. Very much so! My favourite kind of person 😉

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  4. “In lieu of a conversation, the professor and I exchanged our individual mutually unrelated streams of consciousness.”….that is a great line. I too have those stream of consciousnesses or rambling uncontrollably. Great post.

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    1. I know, right, one doesn’t even need to be an academic to have those streams of consciousness going on… Thanks for reading!

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  5. Aaah, the hallowed and dusty halls of academia, how I miss it.. Not

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    1. Haha, makes sense, nothing to miss here 😉

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      1. Done that, got the tee shirt and the cap (literally)

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        1. Ha 😀 I just got the diploma. Useful for all kinds of things. For example as a wallpaper when you redecorate.

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          1. I just got a certificate (on the job training), they were more interested in my work experience than my “teaching skill”. Strangest job I have ever done. Can’t say I miss it 😀

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          2. That makes all the sense to me, that an employer should be interested in skills and experience rather than anything else. I don’t have teaching skills but I do have a teaching certificate 😉

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          3. It was a bit odd for me at the time, especially as the cert had nothing to do with the actual act of teaching. I doubt if I used anything that I learned whilst teaching.

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          4. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that things you are taught to do have nothing to do with the practice of doing things.

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          5. Most often the case, I have experienced a few exceptions though. I have been taught a number of CAD software programs and have used the knowledge extensively, but that might be the difference between teaching and training? I dunno, I am too lazy to look it up 😀

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          6. Makes sense, the difference between teaching and training! Teaching is for its own sake; training might have some links with reality 😉

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          7. I think you have it right there!

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