Tuesday, November 25, 2008

When music fades away in the roar

I am furious.

To put this in perspective, while I was away my supervisor called and pretty much insisted that I attend this conference. He said it would all be organised, that I could wait until I got home to do the paperwork and that everything would be fantastic. There was a university vehicle, so I wouldn't even have to worry about getting there, and so on and so forth.

OK, fine. I didn't want to do it, but I agreed eventually, realising that it would be good experience, and I've never done a proper presentation at a conference, only presented a poster, which is tedious and time-consuming and all-out horrible.

I haven't been able to track down the guy who will be driving there tomorrow, so today I went and got his phone number from his supervisor and tried to get in touch. No answer.

To put this in context, these people are the type that I think are very insecure and possibly unpopular way back in high school or something. They feel the need to develop an image of being 'cool' and they do so in the easiest way: they exclude other people. they are generally quite entertaining and as such the undergrad KIDS-es adore them, and they sue that to their advantage by shamelessly playing favourites. Amongst their peers they make sure that everyone knows what they are up to, and that everyone who is not a member of their little 'fan club' is quite aware that they aren't invited.

I'm sure if they weren't so desperate to feel adored they would be pretty nice - on several occasions on various trips I have spent time with them, and we usually get along really well, but the minute the trip is over and we're back in our labs they act as if we've never met. I refuse to hero-worship people who I don't find as funny as they think they are, or as 'cool' as they try to be. I left high school 6 years ago and I was glad to wipe my hands of the politics and mind games. I have great friends and we have fun, but I will NEVER try to exclude anyone (and if I do, please slap me or something!) unless there is a very good reason.

The whole cliqueyness of the situation drives me nuts, and as such I just plain avoid people like that, but, unfortunately when you work on similar stuff you end up running into each other from time to time.

Anyway I finally managed to ask the conference organiser if she knew how many people were going to be travelling in the university car, as it had also been volunteered to take people from the airport to the conference - a meagre 4 or so hour drive. She replied that my name was not on the list, and that the car is full. so now, THE DAY BEFORE I've had to shuffle plans and organise to take my car down, and then come back the day before I was planning on leaving so I won't have to leave my car in the middle of nowhere.

I'm not angry because they've excluded me once again. to be honest I expect it from them. I'm not angry that I have to make another plan, I rarely claim anything that I spend on my work, and I paid for my last conference myself because I didn't have the energy to do all the paperwork, so I WILL be claiming back fuel for this trip. It's not even that I'll miss out on a cool talk about tree frogs.

What really upsets me is that I had to find out from a complete stranger what the people downstairs from me are doing. They didn't even bother to ask me, or tell me or anything. If it wasn't for the organisers being really nice in scheduling my talk early so that I can leave, I would actually cancel my attendance right now. And now I get to look forward to driving somewhere completely new to arrive in the dark and to leave less than 24 hours later.

The bonus is that while I only have a skeleton of a talk right now, I don't feel nervous anymore. The people there are going to be the same cliquey 'family' as I always encounter (I know a few of them personally) and to be quite honest, I don't care what they think of me.

I just want this to be over.


SuvvyGirl said...

Nothing like people pissing you off to work out all of the butterflies. You're handling it much better than I would. I would find someones head to go over and tattle. :P I'm normally not a tattler, but some situations require it. To get even if nothing else. That would probably also explain why I make some situations worse. :P

Luke said...

Ah, intra-departmental politics...such bliss...

Fear not comrade! I too cannot stomach such behaviour! And on the plus side, at least you can come with us to sodwana straight from Jozi!

Helen said...

Thanks for the support guys! I'm actually pretty happy with the way things worked out, I get to takae my own car and have an escape option if the herpetologists become unbearble... I'm tempted to write a bitchy post about how guys keep snakes as pets to compensate for their pathetic egos... but i will hold off until I calm down a bit more!

sarah said...

oh hels!


i can just imagine WHO these idiots are! i know there are tons and tons in your department. gross. and i use the age old solution taught to me by my ancestors - kick them in the shins!

gooood luck!

Unknown said...

i presented my first ever paper at a conference last week. i even got a delegate bag! i felt muchos importante :)
i am sorry to hear about your crappy situation. blogging is indeed a good to vent your frustration. just remember that they will step in dung one of these days. karma always works friend.

ps - i don't have to fill in a word to comment. this makes me slightly, although not terribly sad, as they highly amusing most of the time.