the consultant just isn't that into you.

i used to work with this kid named ian. he was the kind of dude who tried really hard to gain others' acceptance. he was always well-dressed with a button-down shirt underneath a pea coat, and he'd walk around listening to his ipod back when not everyone had an ipod. he took my picture one morning for the staff board, even though i told him not to. i looked like shit, and later, the other consultants, and even my boss, said i looked like shit. they didn't use those exact words, but the message was clear. i had to get my picture taken again later, at the end of the year, precisely when having a picture no longer mattered.

i wasn't that upset about the picture. i just felt like i had seen my fair share of arrogant white kids, especially in classrooms, and i was upset that one of them, namely ian, had been hired for the same position i held. worse yet, he was younger. and better dressed. he had a slightly better haircut. once, he asked me if i liked the velvet underground. i said that i did. he liked to talk about music with people because what else do straight white boys in seattle talk about?

one day in class, our professor was talking about esl (english as a second language) students. our professor made some comment about japanese students being shy or something. i'm not sure what his point was, and i can't remember now because all i can remember is ian's response. "isn't that a gross stereotype?" he said, incredulously. "what?" my professor said, "are you trying to challenge me?" "no, no..." ian said, and he tried his best to explain his outburst and save face. the level of awkwardness and discomfort was visible on all our faces.

the relationship between our professor and ian was all downhill after that. after only three months, ian resigned as a consultant. i would like to point out to any readers who don't know about undergraduate writing centers is that the only requirements for being a good consultant is to ask open-ended questions and appear genuinely interested in another person. note the word "appear." a consultant doesn't have to actually be interested in sally student or sally student's terribly mediocre paper on frankstein. he just has to appear interested. apparently, this proved too much for our boy, so he quit.

he did have a great thanksgiving dinner for all us consultants, though. jacob and i sat down on the couch and looked through his dvds. "you know what i haven't seen in forever?" jacob said. "what?" i asked. he held up the 25th anniversary edition of e.t. "put it on," i said. we watched a little bit of e.t. when dinner was ready, ian brought out various wines that he said would go well with each dish. not only was he a snappy dresser, he also proved himself to be a wine connosieur. he'd say something like, "this is a '97 savignon blanc, and it'll go well with the mashed potatoes and gravy."

to appease our semi-drunken nagging, ian shared some gossip about his non-relationship with another consultant, corey. corey came across as prim, proper, and slightly abrasive - thus, a perfect match for ian. two kids who never seemed like they had to question, nevermind apologize for, their privilege or uncanny confidence in themselves. they were like a match made in mercer island. all of us were curious about what went wrong.

he began slowly, an old man telling a war-time tale. he said that corey had invited herself over to his dorm room on several occasions, and finally, he gave in to her request. she came in, and it was just the two of them. he said he was really set on watching his new m.a.s.h. box set, and he wasn't being a particularly gracious host. the gist of the story was that corey kept making it clear that she was interested in him, and he just wasn't having it. in conclusion, he had to let her down easy.

even though he had resigned from his official duties as a consultant, ian tended to still hang around the office quite a bit, kind of like david brent after he'd been made redundant. most of the women i worked with continued to defend ian, and they lambasted our professor for chewing him out that day in the classroom. i guess it was then that a great insight came to me: anyone could've had that job. anyone.

1 comment:

Aby said...

Hey, You're really blessed with a brilliant sense of humor. I wonder if it comes naturally to you. I just couldn't stop laughing at that "he just has to 'appear' interested" comment. That was funny.

Nice Post, keep posting you make people laugh.