We, as a department, do a lot of outreach activities. One of them is going to schools to conduct various workshops. And on the other-hand, we have our own grading and evaluations to be done. One day I had an arrangement to do some vivas. On the same day, our department was doing a workshop for a major girls’ school. But there were not enough people to do the workshop. So a certain new senior lecturer asked me if I can drop the viva and go. I said no. He looked at me for a while and asked me; “Are you not *draw a straight line in air* “
<Toastmaster, my dear toastmasters>
‘WHAT!”; I asked.
And he replies; “You know, like *draw a straight line in air*, not crooked *draw a crooked line in air*, not curvy *draw a curvy line in air*, but *draw a straight line in air*. Like boy looking for girlfriend kind of stuff”
This happened like 4 months ago. Since then I have kept a count of the people who would ask me or imply that I am not *draw a straight line in air*. Believe me, the count currently stands at 19! That is correct! 19 different people including a co-worker, a student and a cousin thought I am not *draw a straight line in air*
You might call it vibes or you might call it prejudices. No matter in what name you call it, the baseline truth is I have a tough record when it comes to being thought what I am not. Fortunately, most of these are not as controversial as the one that I talked about.
Some time ago I was sitting in my office doing my work. Along comes a gentleman who looks like a businessman. He asked my roommate where he can find a “Staff member”. Gesturing towards me she happily replied; “We are staff members”. And the man replies; “No.no.no. I want to meet staff members who do lectures.” Then, a bit agitated, we replied that we do do lectures. He looked indignantly at us as if to say, “You little pair of liars” and just walked away.
So outsiders cannot identify that we are lecturers. No big deal, eh?
But the thing is, this continues!
My office roommate had a car. So we would often go out for lunch and stuff. One day we were on our way back. STOP! Shouts the security guard. The security guard stops the car and asks my friend what business she has in the university. She says she is a lecturer. One thing about my friend is that sometimes when she says something, she says it in such a way that no one dares to argue. So the security guy just nods and then points at me; “Is that guy also staff?” He asks.
Okay. Outsiders and security guards. Is that it? Nooooo! It does not stop there.
One day I had to do exam duty. All right, I have to do exam duty more than one day, but I am telling the story of this particular day. I was doing this duty on request of another staff member so I was just in my t-shirt and trousers. I went to the exam hall and stood promptly at the head table. Since none of the staff members were paying attention, I announced that I am from the department of Computer Science & Engineering. The supervisor, a lady who looked pretty stern, looked at me over her spectacles and told; “So?!? Go and sit will you? We are about to start the exam!!”
Outsiders, security guards and peers. Have we covered everyone? Ah the students. Students know me don’t they?
Remember the Gavelians that came for the last meeting? As most of you know, I am a Gavel dropout. But still when I joined the university as a lecturer in 2011, I wanted to go there and say adios to the friends that I have in the club. Since most of them would be present at the Christmas meeting, I went for that. The thing to note is the fact that I went there like this; *show shirt*. In a long sleeved shirt and stuff. Minus the tie and toastmaster pins of course. And the 11 batch was going through their compulsory smart casual phase. The meeting went well. We were given refreshments at the end of the meeting. Suddenly an 11 batch student tapped me and handed a banana peel to me; “Dude! Put this in the bin please.”
Even that we can take as a compliment can’t we? I can take it as; I look way younger than I am. But the problem is there is no limit to this.
Last year, we has an exhibition at our school to commemorate the century since its inception. A bunch of my friends and I went to check it out. All the labs were converted into exhibition stalls. We wanted to go and see what was being shown at the chemistry lab where we practiced chemistry or alchemy or something like that. Anyway there was this A-Level girl describing elements of the D-group. There were multi-coloured liquids. There were much burning of stuff that gives various coloured fumes and flames. We were a nice audience. We listened intently and answered questions. We thought all went well until she concluded with; “Don’t worry, when you start doing A-levels, you can learn aaaaaall about these.”
E. B. White said “Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” One thing people miss is the fact that your prejudices do not define others, it defines you. Take it from me; a very *draw a straight line in air*. Lecturer who, despite appearances, is older than a O/L kid; keep the first impression to yourself the next time you have to sit through the ordeal of meeting new people; be it a job interview, a marriage proposal, or a discussion on a bilateral nuclear embargo.
Remember, physical exercises are good; but jumping into conclusions is not one of them.
Over to you Toastmaster