Thursday, October 01, 2009

Just buying groceries, thanks

Went to the store tonight on the way home. Typical exchange (some variation on this theme has happened on at least 3 occasions):


Cashier: Donate to xxx disease charity?

MsPhD: Not today, I work on xxx disease, I donate every day.

Bag Assistant: Are you a doctor?

MsPhD: I'm a PhD. I work in a lab.

Bag Assistant (looks me up and down, puzzled expression, sounds doubtful): Oh.

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At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how many times I have had this very same experience. Donate to the x cancer fund. "Not today, I made my donation through my work for the past 10 years, thanks." (In my mind, I think, "but if you like, perhaps you can contribute to my retirement/unemployment funding.")

At 5:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's one for the files this week.
Went to get new eyeglasses. Small chat starts with desk dude: "Do you have off work today?" Me: "No, I work my own hours" Dude: "Oh, you're a stay at home mom" Me: "No. I work on CoolShit, mostly analyses and writing" Dude: "HAHA, I thought you said CoolShit" Me: "I did, see here's my card, with a picture of CoolShit" Dude stares at me in disbelief, conversation is apparently over. I went from "those frames look cute" (I hate cute btw) to having a brain in just under 60 secs. YES!

At 6:31 AM, Anonymous a physicist said...

How about:

Q: "Are you a doctor?"

A: "No, I'm a biologist. I work in a lab."

Personally, I usually tell people I meet that I teach physics at my university. For the few rare ones that follow up on this, I'll admit I'm a professor. Every now and then, I then get the question "so do you have PhD?"

At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how about...

Bag Assistant: Are you a doctor?

MsPhD: Yes, I work in a lab though, not with patients.

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Early Retirement Extreme said...

Very likely they do not know what "phd" means. Just say "researcher" or "scientist" and you'll be good.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Candid Engineer said...

Bag Assistant: Are you a doctor?

You know, the correct answer is just 'yes'. Sometimes saves a lot of hassle.

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it's the "PhD" part that confuses them - what if you just said you're a scientist?

At 8:04 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Yeah, um, most of you are missing the point, but it's partly my fault for burying it in "variations".



I'm pretty sure it's because they don't know what a female scientist looks like. I actually have a family member who didn't know that they let women get PhDs. Gave me the same long stare when he was told I have a doctorate in a scientific field.

That was the point of the post. Not to ask for different ways to say it. It's not how I'm saying it that is the problem. It's the cultural expectation that is the problem.

At 1:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I usually just don't even go there, I see no need to inform complete strangers on the street - who I am only going to interact with for a few seconds - of what I do for a living. If forced into a corner by their small talk I just make something else up that sounds more conventional and no one will blink an eye at, like "I'm a teacher". If they want to assume I'm a stay at home mom, I'll play along. (Hey it's only for a few seconds or at most a few minutes and with people you will never see again!!) It saves a lot of time and hassle and irritation. And, because this way you wouldn't know that they would for sure have reacted in an irritating way if you were to to have revealed what you really do for a living, you don't end up all aggravated and angry later on , because there's nothing aggravating that would have happened to you in the first place.

At 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most people assume that my Dr Wife is a stay at home mom, except our Scandinavian relatives who bother to ask what she did her PhD in and how job stuff is going. Our non-Scandinavian relatives don't even ask what I have done.

Maybe free university education changes peoples' perspectives?

At 7:36 AM, Anonymous ennuiherself said...

Huh. I've never had any negative experiences from telling people that I'm a scientist/PhD. (Granted I've only had the actual degree for a few months, I was working on said PhD for a good long while.)

I only reveal this bit of info if it's pertinent to the conversation but when I do admit to having a PhD, people are usually quite impressed and often ask for a (basic) summary of my work. In fact, I find that people seem a little more impressed by my having a PhD than if I were to have an MD.

I will say, though, that I find your little grocery store exchange unnecessary. I would have just said "Not today" and left it at that. Maybe the bagger was put off by what could come across as bragging.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...


Good point. I don't think this was a look of jealousy or disgust, just disbelief. But it hadn't occurred to me that it would sound like bragging. I still think a PhD is something only a grad student would covet. The general populace seems to know it requires a lot of work, rather than luck, so they aren't really *jealous* per se.

Technically (!), as I think I have blogged about before, they are not allowed to SOLICIT ME while I am grocery shopping. And yet, they do.

I don't feel the slightest bit bad about pointing out to them how PRESUMPTUOUS they are being by asking me to donate MORE MONEY to whatever their cause of the week is.

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a guy, but I get the look because I look very young. I'm tired of being an "ambassador" so now I usually lie.


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