Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I am a sinner who does not expect forgiveness, but I am not a government official

Quick story:

It's long been established that when I work I coffee shop hop. After 2-3 hours I got to move, and that usually corresponds pretty well to a cup of coffee and a refill. And I'm friendly.. I chat with my neighbors, one of whom is a fellow academic (professor, not philosopher). They know I'm a grad student finishing up. Because of the timing I usually run into one of them when I leave my place and we exchange pleasantries where I usually mention that I'm off to work.

S0 I walk outside and run into my neighbor. She asks me which coffee shop I work at. I go into my little spiel about the strengths and weaknesses of the various coffee shops about (cheaper coffee, limited internet, etc..) and this look of comprehension comes across her face. Somehow it hadn't occurred to me that: "I work at a coffee shop" would translate to.. I work at a coffee shop.

Who knows? If things don't work out maybe next year..

-- Second Suitor


Anonymous said...

I worked at a coffee shop for most of my stint as a lecturer. I found I needed the extra income. Getting to know the owners of the coffee shop I worked at, they offered me a job, and that became the coffee shop that I worked at.

I think that if you're stuck as a lecturer or adjunct, it's a pretty nice job. You get free coffee. You get to socialize with people who aren't philosophers. (Speaking just for myself, for my first year or so in my new town I met women in classes and at coffee shops. As I think it's a bad idea to mix teaching and dating, the coffee shop proved invaluable. I wasn't about to follow my mother's advice and start going to church to meet someone.)

Added bonus: when people ask what you do, you can say without lying that you are a barista.

Mr. Zero said...

At least if your neighbors think you work in a coffee shop you don't have to answer their annoying questions about whether trees make sounds when they fall in the woods.

Diagoras said...

@ Mr Zero

I find the best way to deal with questions like that is to tell they truth.

FWIW: the answer is 'Yes'

Mr. Zero said...


I appreciate the advice, but perhaps your neighbors aren't as tenacious or clueless as mine. True story: wife's friend's boyfriend says, "I got a philosophical question for you: if a tree falls in a forest and there's no one there to hear it, did it really fall?" I'm not joking. Saying 'yes' didn't work. He wouldn't believe me or let it drop, and I couldn't leave.

I find that the best way to deal with questions like that is to head them off at the pass, by not revealing that I'm a philosopher.

"what do you do?"
"I teach college"
"What do you teach?"
"Wanna talk about sports?"

The only problem is, there are situations where you really can't do that, unless you want to deal with a Larry-David-esque problem.

Anonymous said...

For a while in grad school, I replied honestly about what I studied. Then, I started responding with these two conversation-enders, depending on my mood:

Q: What do you study?
A: String theory.
Q: What do you study?
A: Philosophy.
Q: What are you going to do with that?
A: Live better.

Platowe said...

Ah c'mon. I know it's not convenient to answer the old "tree falls" question, and I still eye-roll with the best of them when it pops up. But we're philosophers damn it, and we have a clear answer to that with recourse to event language. If "sound" means mental event conscious awareness then, since by hypothesis no mind is around, no sound in made in that sense. But if it means physical event vibrations in the atmosphere, then one can place a scrolling-graph sound wave detector in the forest time synchronized with a video camera (sans mic) that can prove that the squigglies coincide with the film of the tree falling. Thus, the tree made a physical event sound that no one ever hears. As with many so-called puzzles, clarify your meanings and the answer can become clear.

And what's up with all this not fessing up to being a philosopher? If you can't tersely defend your life's passion, there's something terribly wrong.

Anonymous said...

On more than one occasion I've told people that I am a barber. No one has questions for a barber.

Anonymous said...

Barber, how do you manage to shave all and only those who don't shave themselves?

Anonymous said...

"I'm a philosopher" doesn't go over well where I live. The conversation almost always turns into a little game in which neighbor x declares victory immediately upon getting me to say that my duties include teaching. (The poets and fiction writers at my U tell me "I'm a writer" invites the same game.)

Lately I've switched to "I'm one of the philosophers out to the University. Yeah, there are six of us now--that's twice as many as just a few years ago, you know--and it's so nice to see that the campus is becoming a more lively place for people who like to think, isn't it?"

So far this works pretty well. It doesn't invite the stupid game or questions about trees in forest, and ending on a positive note on the topic of "our" University and "liking to think" hopefully encourages thinking that the University has more to do with thinking than with football or job-preparation or, even worse in my neighborhood, me raking in neighbor x's tax dollars.

Rabbit said...

"In response to inquiries from fellow travelers on airplanes, I say I'm a mathematician. So far I've gotten away with it, for it appears that people who travel on airplanes never were any good at mathematics."

-- Richard Cartwright (1987), Introduction to PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS.