first impressions

a couple of weeks ago, i accidentally left my flash drive in the lecture hall. it’s a 4.0gb drive, and it’s also got the most current versions (and sometimes the ONLY versions) of nearly everything on my computers right now, so it’s not exactly the kind of thing i wanted to lose. i am usually super-careful about stuff like this, but on that particular day i was a little distracted. the keyboard tray had fallen out of the podium(!), so i was trying to get some help putting it back together, and i also had a couple of students come up to talk to me after class. in all of the hubbub i guess i just misplaced my wee little drive. *sniff*

immediately after lecture, i always have a staff meeting with my TAs, which takes anywhere from 60-90 minutes, so i didn’t notice that my drive was missing at first. after the meeting, i was back in my office getting ready for another meeting that night, when i suddenly realized i didn’t have it. i panicked, then realized it was probably in the lecture hall downstairs. i resolved to grab it on my way out to the evening meeting. once i got downstairs, though, there was a class going on (which i totally didn’t expect), so i hemmed and hawed for a moment, wondering if i should just go in anyway, but in the end i decided against it because i was afraid of being disruptive. i went to my meeting across campus, and figured i’d get into the lecture hall afterward.

unfortunately, that meeting went a lot later than i thought it would, and i didn’t make it back to my building until after 10.30pm. by that time the night class was over, and whomever is in charge of such things had already come around and locked the room up tight. boo! we were gearing up for a huge winter storm, and i was a little afraid that school would be cancelled the next day, so i was kind of desperate to get in there. i ended up calling campus police, who sent an officer over to let me into the room… except that he couldn’t, because his keys wouldn’t work. he tried every single key on his comically-enormous keyring, twice, and none of them worked. it was very frustrating (for both of us!), and i decided to put a sign on the doors of the lecture hall (for whomever would open it the next morning) and hope for the best.

the next day they DID end up cancelling school, but i had to go to campus anyway to watch a job talk, and i went to my building afterward to try to get in the room again. my signs had been moved (no idea why), but the doors were still locked. there were no janitors to be found, and the guy that holds the keys to every room in our complex had left for the day, too. i was still totally freaked out because i didn’t really know if my flash drive was still in the room (and thus safe for now) or if it had been taken. as my husband and i stood in the hallway debating what to do next, a voice from a nearby office said, “can i help you guys with something?”

the voice belonged to an assistant dean, and after i told him my story, he said, “oh i really feel for you! the same thing happened to me at the end of last semester, and by the time i got back into the lecture hall, my drive had been stolen.” i was all, aw crap, and he was all, i know, right?, and then he offered to figure out how to help me. he was super-nice.

we spent about ten minutes with him while he figured out if he could access a set of master keys, and when that proved unsuccessful, he looked up everyone who teaches in that lecture hall and wrote down all of their names and departments for me so that i could follow up with them. he was very sympathetic and friendly. we joked around and he wished me well on my key quest. i committed his name to memory and was all, “that dude was awesome!”

after we got back to my office, my husband suggested calling classroom support (who deals with technology stuff and has keys to all of the mediated classrooms), and i was kind of skeptical since classes were cancelled that day, but we tried and sure enough, there was someone there! within ten minutes he was letting me into the room, and wonder of wonders, my flash drive was there safe and sound. hooray!! as i said at the time, “i have never been so happy to see a little piece of plastic in my entire life.”

ever since, i’ve been meaning to email the cool assistant dean who helped me out, just to tell him about my happy ending and let him know how grateful i was for his help. it’s just that i keep forgetting to do it. two weeks went by, and i still hadn’t done it, so i wanted to deal with it before it got to the point of being lame for emailing him so late. so the other day, i looked him up in our campus white pages, and got an email address for him. i also got a home department for him–psychology–and realized that i was surprised i hadn’t recognized his name in the first place. i know a lot of the names from that department, because they’re across the street from us, and my interests overlap with some of their interests, and so i at least recognize a lot of the names even if i don’t actually know the people. so out of sheer curiosity, i was all, hey i wonder what mr. supercoolfriendly dude studies! i’ma look him up!, and i went to his faculty page and then his website.

big mistake.

mr. supercoolfriendly totally runs a rat lab, and studies rat brains (as a way of pseudo-studying human brains), and is basically a big ol’ animal tester. i don’t even know how to describe how i felt when this dawned on me. on one hand, it obviously doesn’t change the fact that he was extremely nice and helpful a couple of weeks ago, but on the other hand, it totally gives me a stomach ache and makes me not want to be his friend anymore. sigh. i haven’t written that email yet.



  1. glad you found the flash drive. that woulda sucked!
    i can totally understand your dilemma. how does one maintain a reproachful attitude about someone’s behavior and befriend them at the same time.
    i think the best way to deal with it is to understand that even good people don’t always know they are doing what we might consider bad things. many times their intentions are good, but they don’t have enough of the right knowledge to understand there are better ways.
    much like that book “living with meat eaters: a vegetarian survival guide” suggests that meat eaters are blocked vegetarians, i would say that this guy could be a blocked animal rights activist. perhaps he just has not had his “click” yet. it happens at different times for different people. and its not really fair to judge people who take a little longer to get it. perhaps i say that because it took me a while to put in practice something i believed a long time ago. and even knowing this now, doesn’t make it any easier to navigate certain things in life. sometimes i have to choose the lesser of two evils.
    and, as always, i refer to this quote by idries shah, “the word choice is a fraud when people choose only what they have been taught to choose.” maybe he doesn’t understand his choices.
    and i would hope that you could befriend him and maybe be his emissary into the world of veganism and animal rights. don’t underestimate the impact you could have on someone’s life. if we don’t reach out from a place of peace and goodwill, people won’t think we mean what we say about life and living.

  2. I agree with river selkie. My first introduction to veganism was in high school when I met somebody who was vegan. At that time I didn’t think about it much, but the seeds had been planted and it didn’t take long.

  3. yes, you’re both right, and i totally agree with you. i guess i was mostly venting my confusion/frustration/bummed-out-ness when i realized what he does for a living. boo. i’ll write the email anyway. my sig file makes it pretty clear how i stand on things. 🙂

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