Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Problem of Interpretation

All right, you masters/mistresses of reading and meaning-making. (While I type this, I have to wonder: are there actually any "masters" who read this blog? I get the feeling it's just us chicks, but I could be wrong. Out yourselves, boys!)

I just received this email from a student (names have been changed to protect the guilty) who has to complete an internship in order to graduate:

Professor Fluff--Is this a confirmed placement with Institute A or is it still up in the air? I was hoping to avoid this last minute push into a placement which is why back in the beginning of April I requested a placement at Institute B. Since I've never done any type of internship I'm anxious about being prepared, and qualified, for the placement, and would have liked to know sooner where I would be and what the internship involved.

What's the snark factor here? Because when I first read it, I was contemplating driving to her house and making her eat the phone that I have spent multiple hours on, trying to get Institute B to put together an internship for her. I was handed off to different people, departments, and assistants, none of who could confirm who could make this kind of decision. Eventually I emailed her, explained the problem, and receive confirmation from her in late July that Institute A would let her explore her interests as well as Institute B. (To truly explain my rage, she also already works at Institute B--which makes an internship there rather useless, IMHO.) Final note: the other student doing an internship this fall? I made the initial contact, gave him the info, and he ran with it. In fact, he just sent me an update last week, which I then followed up on with the local agency. So she's doing a lot less than he is, that's for damn sure.

So, part of me is pretty pissed that she sounds as if she's chiding me for taking so long to set up her internship. The other, small, peeping, sympathetic part of me wonders if this is all motivated by her insecurity about taking on this internship (she's a rather nervous student, doesn't do well with things like "open topics," likes lots and lots of direction, etc.--all of which make her a less-than-stellar major in this very self-directed program, but I wasn't the one who admitted her).

All right. Call it in the air, interpreters. Snarky or nervous? Upbraiding or insecure?


Blogger Flavia said...

I'm really not sure. If it's snarky, then it's a very controlled, self-aware snark, and to my mind, that counts for something. I really don't think that she's pissed at YOU, although she may be passive-aggressively pissed at the world that requires so much effort from her.

Personally, I'd let it go. . . but I'd probably be on a sharp lookout for future indications of bitchiness. If any should manifest themselves, THEN would be the time to let her have it (passive aggressively, of course).

Thursday, August 24, 2006 7:57:00 PM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Thanks for the words of objective wisdom! I'm glad I erred on the side of calm and rational response...

Saturday, August 26, 2006 12:32:00 PM  

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