Saturday, August 23, 2008

Glamour! Excitement! Flat Tires! Delays!

I just got back from a visit with CB. Part of the visit was spent at his company's annual business meeting. It was great to have the opportunity to meet his colleagues, and everyone was very nice and obviously passionate about what they do. The company organizes bird watching tours all over the world. They go to fabulously exotic places, see amazing wildlife, plants, geologic features and cultural attractions.

When CB and I first started dating, I had sort of a preconceived notion of what it would be like to be a tour leader. Travel (for free) to all these great places, be paid to birdwatch, what's not to like? The reality is that it is still a job. These folks work very hard to ensure that ALL the clients, some of whom are easy keepers and some who are not, have a good time and feel like they've gotten their money's worth.

And things happen, like the group that went to Alaska after CB's tour and got stuck in Nome for 4 or 5 days because of weather. They really do fix lots of flat tires too, or end up waiting for repairs.

But still, it made my lab job seem boring and routine by comparison. The funny thing was, I found myself having to think back, "now, why was it that I didn't end up being a field biologist?" And there is a reason. At the time I was going back for my Ph.D., I was wanting to have a kid. Sure, there are plenty of people who go out and do fieldwork and have families. But I had an interest in doing population genetics, and also saw a straight job as making the most sense when planning on getting pregnant.

This remembering of why I'm a lab monkey is related to another thing that happened. Lots of people asked me what I did for a living. In retrospect, I failed to get across the gist of why I do what I do, and this has made me want to get a better description that I can reel off when asked, "so, what is it you do?"

When I was in school, I remember a professor saying, "if you can't say what you do in a sentence, then you don't know enough about what you do." This is true to some extent, especially when one is around colleagues. However, this past trip has made me think maybe a two sentence one is more helpful. Or maybe I just need to rework my sentence.

That will be in the next post.

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Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.