October 2, 2007
Posted by on
I’ve blogged before about my fondness for my favourite coffee shop – and about how, at times, my affection for this place causes me to forget that some elements of the environment might be slightly… confronting for certain visitors. I’ve ended up several times offering to meet people here, only to realise as they were arriving that it’s not a foregone conclusion that everyone will appreciate the… ambiance…
I just overheard someone having a similar experience: meeting a professional contact, who dealt with the outer chambers of the coffee shop just fine – but who then asked directions to the toilet. There was a long pause. You could almost hear cogs turning – should I maybe tell them it’s broken? that they don’t have one? And then, finally, the decision: “Well… Maybe I better take you. It’s just through here and – before we walk back here, I should warn you: see, you walk through here and you see people doing completely terrible things to one another…”
I personally tend to opt for just pointing the person on their way, leaving them to deal with the murals on their own terms. Mainly because I can’t really see that tagging along and sharing my own personal commentary on the murals, will really improve someone’s reaction, if they’re inclined to be offended…
And speaking of delicate sensibilities: I’ve been having a delightfully over-subtle exchange with the organiser of a conference about accommodation arrangements. I’ll be jointly presenting a paper with someone of the opposite sex, and they seem unsure whether this intellectual collaboration might be more than collegial, and whether this should then have some impact on how we’re both housed for the conference. What’s funny about this line of questioning is that, to be honest, I’d just as soon room with my co-presenter – I want to know that, in the evenings, I can just hole up and read, secure that my roommate knows that I’m like this, and won’t regard my behaviour as unduly anti-social… It had never occurred to me that this arrangement might be misinterpreted.