You get more with a kind word and a gun than a kind word alone. February 20, 2008 10:55 AM   Subscribe

In case anyone wondered what happened with the College Admissions Official From Hell (thread here), an update! Thank you to the good people of AskMe.

I went in to meet with the college official who had me all intimidated. But I knew I'd still be intimidated and worried and wouldn't present myself well.

So I brought help.

Help came in the form of a 6'4 bearded southern friend with a black trenchcoat and a cowboy hat.

The admissions official shook my hand, and I said: "I hope you don't mind, I brought my friend here as moral support." He looked at my friend from the vantage point of his 5'3 self. He looked down, then up. And up. And up.

And instead of being intimidating, he started the discussion by saying, "The most important thing to me is ensuring that you can succeed in school. We certainly don't want to deny you a scholarship if it would limit your success." He wasn't making eye contact with me at this time. He was making it with the scary southern friend.

His tune changed so fast the band couldn't keep up. Now all he wants is a signed letter about what happened so he can show it to the higher-ups if anyone wants to know why a scholarship was awarded to someone who may or may not have qualified for it.

Thank you, AskMe, for giving me the guts to go into his office in the first place. My reaction until then had pretty much been "hide in a corner and hope it all goes away."
posted by InnocentBystander to MetaFilter-Related at 10:55 AM (93 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Excellent! Thanks very much for this update, and I'll buy your large friend a beer if I ever have the chance. Great strategy!
posted by languagehat at 11:03 AM on February 20, 2008


That's just a perfect end to the story. So happy for you, IB.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:19 AM on February 20, 2008


Was bringing an enforcer the best advice you got from AskMe? Interesting. Congrats on your outcome, but correlation doesn't equal causation.
posted by langedon at 11:22 AM on February 20, 2008


We all need trenchcoated giants to have our backs now and then. I'm so glad this situation has turned around for you.
posted by jamaro at 11:25 AM on February 20, 2008


The enforcer wasn't an AskMe recommendation, but being assertive and telling him what I needed to say WAS. Once I knew I needed to do that, and I knew I couldn't do it alone in a reasonable timeframe, the enforcer solution made itself apparent.
posted by InnocentBystander at 11:28 AM on February 20, 2008


Very happy to hear about the good outcome! It's often good to bring a third party into meetings like this.

(Although in general I oppose student attempts to intimidate faculty etc; a lot of bad eggs try that and it sucks. Eg showing up with dad who's a lawyer to try to escape a plagiarism charge. NOT at all saying that your case is like this; sounds like it isn't. I just wanted to register a general principle against having the third party be someone who's supposed to actually scare the faculty member rather than just keeping the faculty member honest.)

Here's to a good rest of the semester, unmarred by crap administrative hassles.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:28 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dear AskMe, my trench-coated monstrosity keeps following me around and won't leave me alone. Do you think that a pencil-necked geek like me could be trained to consistently win fights with him using only a knife? And if I do beat him, how would I dispose of the body? Did I mention he has a set of octuplets, they're all five years old, how could I get rid of them? I'm also worried that his cat may get involved, suggestions? Finally, I've been dating his wife, but I think she's cheating on me with my brother, can you recommend the best way to turn this into a long distance relationship with her sister? Email me at "anonymoose.mefi@gmail.com"
posted by blue_beetle at 11:37 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is being southern scary now?

If so, then give me your lunch money chumps!
posted by ND¢ at 11:45 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like the personal touch you get with hired goons.
posted by SteveTheRed at 11:49 AM on February 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm glad it worked out.

I'm with LobsterMitten (whose ideas fit me like a glove) - if I was the official, I might just call Campus security, what with recent events on campusses, what might be under the trenchcoat, and all. But then, I'd be inclined to try to pull all the strings to get you the $$ in the first place, so my feeling probably doesn't apply.
posted by Rumple at 11:50 AM on February 20, 2008


Help came in the form of a 6'4 bearded southern friend with a black trenchcoat and a cowboy hat.

You're not omitting any firearms-related details from that description, I hope.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:53 AM on February 20, 2008


Hooray! It's hard for me to have too much sympathy for the official. He needed another man looking at him to take you seriously, and he got it.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:55 AM on February 20, 2008


Now all I need is a beard, a trenchcoat, a cowboy hat and move to the south and I'm set as a college admissions consultant!

Anyway, good news. Congratulations.
posted by GuyZero at 12:02 PM on February 20, 2008


I've got a leather trenchcoat, I'm 6'9" and I'm southern. If anybody needs financial aid help I need a cowboy hat and 3 weeks notice to grow a beard.
posted by Megafly at 12:07 PM on February 20, 2008 [15 favorites]


I agree ND$ (you got a raise. Can't find the cents sign) If all it takes to be scary is hoop skirts and gentile manners then I'll "Yes Mamm" myself to world domination in no time! You can come too but be sure and bring a covered dish and a case of coke!

Congrats on the scholarship!
posted by pearlybob at 12:09 PM on February 20, 2008


(you got a raise. Can't find the cents sign)

copy/paste:

ND¢
posted by cashman at 12:13 PM on February 20, 2008


When did keyboards lose the ¢ anyway?
posted by Rumple at 12:14 PM on February 20, 2008


If all it takes to be scary is hoop skirts and gentile manners

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Jews just can't pull of a hoop skirt.
posted by ND¢ at 12:17 PM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


When did keyboards lose the ¢ anyway?

...I only just now noticed that.

Which, I suppose, is why they got rid of it.
posted by aramaic at 12:20 PM on February 20, 2008


off dammit.
posted by ND¢ at 12:20 PM on February 20, 2008


Beards. Is there anything they can't do?

This Message Brought To You By The North American Facial Hair Association, With Additional Funding From The Rock Hudson Estate.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:21 PM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


The ¢ sign disappeared when Bill and Paul needed all the keys for commands. They are billionaires - they do not need ¢.
It is Alt 0162 with number lock on.
If this does not print as previewed, it will make no sense at all.
posted by Cranberry at 12:30 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Btw, happy for Mrs IB.
posted by Cranberry at 12:31 PM on February 20, 2008


Gentile manners? Is that really what you meant to say, pearly?

Congrats to Mrs. IB; stay away from the beer bongs there kiddo ;-)
posted by Mister_A at 12:32 PM on February 20, 2008


NOTE: strategy may be ineffective when admissions counselor is bald, 300 pounds of pure mean muscle, and paring his nails with a skinning knife.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:34 PM on February 20, 2008


Or skinning his nails with a paring knife for that matter
posted by Skorgu at 12:39 PM on February 20, 2008


I'm 7'8", from Brazil, and am wearing seven trenchcoats. Reasonable rates, two hour minimum.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:46 PM on February 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


^^^ Mom?
posted by Mister_A at 12:52 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm from Antarctica, and I can bring one of these.
posted by Tehanu at 12:53 PM on February 20, 2008


Mrs IB, SOOOO pleased to see this follow up, I was wondering about you (and hoping for the best!)

I'm dead impressed by the southern leather bearded coat, (or whatever!)
posted by Wilder at 12:53 PM on February 20, 2008


eeeyow! *high fives for you and an attempted tackle for your friend Wall-y*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:56 PM on February 20, 2008


Also: this far into the thread and no ZZ Top jokes?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:59 PM on February 20, 2008


6'3" and southern, no beard but trenchcoat readily available. Inquire within for rates.
posted by empyrean at 1:01 PM on February 20, 2008


That's excellent. I was thinking about your situation quite a bit, hoping that it would resolve itself in an painless way.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:17 PM on February 20, 2008


5'11", no beard, and from the Northeast. Available to argue that the Patriots are actually better than the Giants despite losing to them in the Super Bowl. No beard, but I pronounce "cot" and "caught" the same way, which is apparently funny.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:22 PM on February 20, 2008


You probably also pronounce don and dawn the same way, mass-hole!!! Hahaha! Giants rule! We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.
posted by Mister_A at 1:25 PM on February 20, 2008


Did you mean "don" and "darn"?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:32 PM on February 20, 2008


Beards. Is there anything they can't do?

I think user 22842 would argue not.
posted by paduasoy at 2:04 PM on February 20, 2008


Just so I can understand this:

1) You were intimidated by the admissions official, not necessarily by his presence or his power, but by his requests for documentation that would cause you to relive a traumatic part of your life.
2) Some people in the Ask Me thread suggested you be more assertive, but no one suggested you use an implicit threat of force against the official.
3) Instead of relying on your husband for "moral support" in your dealings with the official, you decided to enlist someone whose sole function was to short-circuit the process by presenting a physical threat to the official.
4) Profit!

Yes, by all means: congratulations on your scholarship.
posted by joaquim at 2:07 PM on February 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sheesh, joaquim.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:10 PM on February 20, 2008


Congrats and all, but I'm with joaquim. It would have been cooler if your 6' whatever bearded cowboy hat guy had helped you call around to get the documentation that the college had quite reasonably asked for.
posted by davey_darling at 2:24 PM on February 20, 2008


Nice Capone quote.
posted by ersatz at 2:30 PM on February 20, 2008


Student shows up in my office with obvious dummy-for-intimidation, I...

(a) acquiesce out of fear so student can go be overly self-congratulatory about how that solved the "problem" and think it might possibly work somewhere else.

(b) ask student that we meet alone, which is perfectly within guidelines (outside of the grievance process or if the student requests counsel to be present) and then be a little nicer because obviously the student isn't registering what her effective options are and is resorting to something seen on the Soprano's.

c) press the panic button under my desk because either the fella appears to be a legitimate threat, or the student so wants me to believe he is that I decide to show the student what it's like to play that game.

But I'm glad everything worked for you.
posted by mrmojoflying at 2:48 PM on February 20, 2008


Boorishly advising more independent, confident behavior from a survivor of abuse, who seeks for the time being only to feel safe by whatever means necessary, is despicable.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:00 PM on February 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Honestly, I find it pretty despicable to use physical intimidation to get what you want, especially in an academic setting. Frankly if you had tried that with me I would have called security and had you and cowboy Frankenstein sent out on your asses.
posted by puke & cry at 3:07 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


The poster brought a tall friend with a hat, not a gangmember with an Uzi. Sheesh.

All this was was the principle one uses when female and carshopping-bring a guy or the salesman won't respect you. (Frankly in this case I think any reasonably confident looking third party would have done the trick, but then I actually remember reading the original thread.)

All those who are being nasty to the OP, go back, read the thread, and then feel free to apologize if so moved.
posted by konolia at 3:18 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh but back to the don/dawn issue: I have never heard of this "game" and have no idea what it's called!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:20 PM on February 20, 2008


davey_darling: the college had quite reasonably asked for.

Go back and read the thread. The college is asking for documents that are confidential or otherwise hard to get. It is traumatizing.

She brought a friend along for confidence, not to main the guy.
posted by divabat at 3:48 PM on February 20, 2008


If she brought him for "confidence", why so much detail about his height and appearance? And the comparison to the relatively small admissions person?

I would think that there would be some sort of documentation that could have been procured that would at least have been better than nothing, and could have been a starting point for a discussion. If this scholarship is as large as the poster says it is, I don't see that it is out of line to ensure that the recipient meets the guidelines set out for it.

Instead, she found a "big guy" and brought him in with her to get what she wanted.
posted by davey_darling at 3:57 PM on February 20, 2008


Hmm. I have a feeling this thread is not going as InnocentBystander intended.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:00 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's enough ambiguity in this story that I'm not going to go ahead and do it myself, but whether or not you were morally correct to intimidate or go in with intentions to intimidate, you do realize you've now been foolish enough to put yourself right out there for Internet Detective Work and the great justice and/or lulz that follow?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:01 PM on February 20, 2008


If she brought him for "confidence", why so much detail about his height and appearance? And the comparison to the relatively small admissions person?

Come on, benefit of the doubt here. She included that because it seems to make a funnier story (Bad administrator guy gets comeuppance). I don't think the friend was actually threatening the administrator. Let's just call this a day and be happy for her that the scholarship was restored.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:08 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jesus people, can't we just drop it for once?
posted by grouse at 4:15 PM on February 20, 2008


He wasn't threatening, except in appearance, and yes, it's EXACTLY the same principle as going to buy a car. There's a certain contingent of men who are petty and trying to play it cool won't work unless you have someone good at playing their intimidation game. He said nothing other than "hello" and "how are you." If the VP decided to get intimidated instead of using his other options, that's his business. It's also worth noting: my friend also goes to the university and is a brand-new transfer. Afterward, they talked genially about his Advanced Placement test scores.

Also: it was hilarious.
posted by InnocentBystander at 4:19 PM on February 20, 2008


and/or lulz that follow?

I agree with this. Regardless of my opinion of InnocentBystander's tactics, I think it's probably in their and the site's best interest to close this thread and move on. I think the thread was started with good intentions, and there's no need to devolve any further. Moralizing in either direction doesn't seem to be the point, nor does it seem particularly necessary or useful.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:22 PM on February 20, 2008


Nice friend felt protective toward InnocentBystander and came along for moral support, because she already felt intimidated by the nasty dean. If the dean, in turn, felt intimidated, that only served to put them both on equal footing.

And I think it's likely that it was the whole idea of a witness of any kind seeing him being such a jerk that had the dean re-thinking his position.

Good on ya, IB, I'm glad it worked out!
posted by misha at 4:47 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm glad too.

It sounded from the original question that it was the administrator, not ms. IB, who first played the subtle unspoken intimidation card, and the tall bearded trenchcoated though not overtly intimidating Southern friend strikes me as an absolutely perfect countermeasure. Well done you.
posted by flabdablet at 5:12 PM on February 20, 2008


I think it's probably in their and the site's best interest to close this thread and move on.

Because two people have decided to be dicks about it? If we close the thread, the terrorists dicks have won.
posted by languagehat at 5:43 PM on February 20, 2008


the dicks have won.

I don't know about you, but I'm of the firm belief that the dicks won long ago in MetaTalk. And the vaginas, too. I don't want to exclude you ladies...
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:01 PM on February 20, 2008


If the VP decided to get intimidated instead of using his other options, that's his business.
Isn't this sort of what started this whole mess -- that you "decided to get intimidated"?

Also: it was hilarious.
I was leaning towards IB's side until this. If intimidation of the official is so funny, then why isn't his intimidation of IB also funny? I see joaquim's point, so I guess that makes me a dick, too.
posted by forrest at 7:16 PM on February 20, 2008


Oddly enough, I'd just read that thread today when I was seaching for home school threads...anyway, I was going to mefimessage you and ask what happened, and lo and behold, I have an answer. Go, psychic you. ;)
posted by dejah420 at 7:50 PM on February 20, 2008


Yippie-aye-Yay./

I say kudos to Plan A.
The gentle giant worked like a charm, because although rules may be rules, Mr. 20 years past expired date needs to go back to the book of rules.

This isn't some faker [IB] using intimidating tactics. For fuck sakes. This is someone with a history, where the person in power, knowing said applicants history, turns out to be less than compassionate, but worse than that, using that knowledge... for what purpose exactly, I ask¿ Keeping someone out of a scholarship already given to them by the past administrator and asking for EXTENSIVE WHAT¿.

I say IB smelled it from a mile away — good move.

I'd watch this fuckstick. Record in writing what transpired and send it to his supervisors — his vindictiveness may very well not be over, sad to say.

Those not reading the complete story, the gentle giant only said hi. Guilty conscience on that 'administrators' part I say. Notice that the 'administrator' avoided eye contact with the applicant. Now why would the 'administrator' be addressing the gentle giant¿ He's not the one applying, hello.

All the best to you in your studies.
posted by alicesshoe at 8:11 PM on February 20, 2008


After waiting over 1 year, I ask again, why ask questions this way¿
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:22 PM on February 20, 2008


Some issues get my goat, TheOnlyCoolTim. I know, you'd prefer a measured response. I think I've chilled out a tad. Wait, can I blame it on the full moon eclipse¿
posted by alicesshoe at 8:30 PM on February 20, 2008


¿ So, you get upset, you start doing Alt-0191 instead of Shift-/ ?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:32 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have to ask how we get from the original poster saying this:

He wasn't making eye contact with me at this time. He was making it with the scary southern friend.

to flabdablet's:

...and the tall bearded trenchcoated though not overtly intimidating Southern friend

Which one is it?
posted by davey_darling at 8:39 PM on February 20, 2008


I was leaning towards IB's side until this. If intimidation of the official is so funny, then why isn't his intimidation of IB also funny?

Because people who hold all of the power in the situation getting swelled heads and forcing a person to relive a terribly traumatic time in their life isn't particularly funny.

Whereas people who hold all of the power in a situation getting swelled heads and then suddenly being cut back down to size is a satisfying, dare I say joyous, occasion.


"Like the ski resort full of young women looking for husbands, and husbands looking for young women, the situation was not as symmetric as it first appeared..."
posted by tkolar at 9:06 PM on February 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


Your solution reminds me of this time that I took a phone-book delivery job for a few days. At one point my supervisor wanted me to ride in his car to "meet" another worker. As we arrived at this other workers house and approached his door, I began to realize this was no friendly visit. It turned out this other worker had many phone books unaccounted for and presumably at his house. As I stood behind the supervisor as he demanded the return of his "property" through the screen door of this hapless fuck-up, I realized I had been cast as the "heavy" (I am pretty large) in order to intimidate this guy. I'm not sure it worked, but I'll never forget the sudden dawning on me of the biological size imperative.
posted by telstar at 11:37 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Rereading the story, I get the impression that the "tall Southern trenchcoat cowboy hat" details are ultimately inconsequential to the outcome of the story, as much as the idea of that particular official wetting his pants with fear warms my cockles. The fact that he didn't look Mrs. IB in the eyes the entire time suggests that what we have here is someone who doesn't talk to or listen to women very well or at all - I think any man in this situation probably would have gotten the same response. The intimidating physical appearance bit just makes it funnier.

I encounter this every so often, in both professional and daily life. There are times I have had tried to tell a man of this mindset something, been patronized/dismissed/abused/not listened to at all, and I have had to feed lines to a male friend/co-worker and have him repeat them verbatim in order to get the point across. It's a bullshit mindset, but it's out there.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:58 AM on February 21, 2008 [6 favorites]


Absolutely louche mustachio, absolutely. I've been the male repeater in that story countless times and it's pretty bloody frustrating.

Like listening to my girlfriend try to cancel some long forgotten internet service ages ago. The phrase "No, I'd just like to cancel" must have crossed that line a dozen times, apparently countered with the usual retention bullshit. But as soon as a ManTM gets on the line, bam "I'm sorry to hear that sir, is there anything else I can take care of for you? Have a nice day sir."

Assholes. A nice ego boost for me, but fucking shitty as a state of affairs.
posted by Skorgu at 9:31 AM on February 21, 2008


Administrator used his position and power over IB to intimidate her. That all it took was a "hi" from Billy Gibbons to help him regain his humanity tells me IB did exactly the appropriate thing.

Confidential to IB: Thanks for the detail about his student status and his AP scores. All the objectification was getting uncomfortable.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:31 AM on February 21, 2008


The phrase "No, I'd just like to cancel" must have crossed that line a dozen times, apparently countered with the usual retention bullshit. But as soon as a ManTM gets on the line, bam "I'm sorry to hear that sir, is there anything else I can take care of for you? Have a nice day sir."

I'm not discounting the gender asymmetry angle here, but I think a big part of that dynamic in that situation is the pure escalatory impact of Putting Someone Else On. Someone running their script who suddenly finds themselves dealing with another party is probably going to be inclined to just let this one go and move onto a less difficult, less stressful call. Whether the second party is a man following a woman vs. any other dynamic isn't necessarily the key thing, there, especially consider the physical detachment the phone introduces. (Heck, the same person going from gentle to Getting Angry can have the same effect much of the time.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:42 AM on February 21, 2008


cortex, you've never been a woman, have you?
posted by konolia at 10:43 AM on February 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


Without applying a liberal coating of Science to this we're all just talking out our asses but I have to disagree.

Number of times I've been jerked around on the phone while trying to get something accomplished: 2? Maybe? Both with Verizon I note. In one case putting someone else on (my boss) had no effect (indeed had to threaten to cancel and go through retention just to get a competent tech on the line).

Number of times my girlfriend has been given the runaround in similar situations? As far as I can tell pretty much every time.
posted by Skorgu at 10:52 AM on February 21, 2008


Oh my god, I'm agreeing with konolia on something! ;) (hi, konolia!)

Cortex, I've had this happen, too, and I'm a pretty bossy-assed bitch on the phone when needed. Some people just will NOT listen to a woman.

[Also, I've found that I get better results when I call about something than when I go in (prejudice against the way I look? I don't know...), so I know it's not my phone skills in general.]

Sure, it's an escalation, but I don't believe that it would go any better if you put another woman on the phone, which kind of defeats the its-the-escalation concept.

By the way, congrats, Mrs. IB -- I'm glad it all worked out for you.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:54 AM on February 21, 2008


cortex, you've never been a woman, have you?

Well, there's was that one time in college...

I opened my comment with "I'm not discounting the gender asymmetry angle here" for a reason: I'm not discounting the gender asymmetry angle here. I don't doubt that it's a real and contributing factor. I was specifically adding a pragmatic view of the basic economics of phone service: that Trouble is the main thing someone working a phone job wants to avoid. Triage is the name of the game; they're going to pick their fights, and a fight on two fronts is probably not one they'll want to pick, whether it's a woman and then a man, two men, two women, someone and then someone's lawyer, etc.

I'm manifestly not suggesting that there's no potential gender dynamics issue; I'm saying that it's not necessarily the sole or even the primary one in play when you remember that the guy on the other end of the phone talks to x dozen or x hundred people each day, every day.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:57 AM on February 21, 2008


cortex, please cease all insightful opinion formation regarding human interactions until such time as you have, Doctor Sam Beckett style, leaped into the souls of people matching every possible type. Also, someone tivo that for me. ...Oh boy!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:57 AM on February 21, 2008


cortex, please cease all insightful opinion formation regarding human interactions until such time as you have, Doctor Sam Beckett style, leaped into the souls of people matching every possible type. Also, someone tivo that for me. ...Oh boy!

ha! good one... and point taken, cortex, didn't mean to pick on you too too terribly. :)

they're going to pick their fights, and a fight on two fronts is probably not one they'll want to pick

Well, unless they're Verizon or Skorgu's girlfriend, anyway. Ah well, without crazy phone tech conversations, where would websites like Consumerist be?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:00 AM on February 21, 2008


Yeah, one thing that is certain: as long as there are phone jobs, there will be memorable anecdotes about shitty phone service. The difficult thing is that it is the anecdotes, the memorable exceptions, that stand out—it's hard to apply, as Skorgu says, a "liberal coat of Science" (or 'SCIENCE!' even?) to something like this, short of someone setting up an ambitious double-blind behavioral study on escalated phone support interactions, controlled for gender. Which'd be fascinating to see, really.

From practical experience on both ends of the phones and a lot of discussion in the past with other folks who've been on both ends, I'm comfortable arguing that the phone service industry as a whole doesn't seem to be any more or less stabled with misogynists than any other industry. There are jerks who work phone service, absolutely. Some of them no doubt have power issues, or issues with women, or just shitty attitudes in general; but the workforces I've seen in these environments are (generally) so demographically varied and so laid-back everyman in overall character that the idea of an overwhelming, universal bias against women callers (beyond whatever background radiation level exists in society in general) strikes me as kinda nuts.

It may be that Verizon is unusally bad on this front. It may be that Skorgu's girlfriend gets a hard time on phone service calls because she has bad luck; or because she's too accomodating; or betrays a lack of confidence in pushing past phone support bullshit—and that Skorgu doesn't have these troubles because he's on the opposite end. And if we want to get into whether intended and perceived confidence or assertiveness correlates directly or indirectly to gender or vocal register or phone experience, etc, that's a great big fascinating topic, but I'm not about to plant my cleats on that subject right now.

Again anecdotally, I personally certainly get less trouble on average with phone service calls than I did ten years ago; I chalk that up to personal experience with the system and to greater general confidence in my own phone manner and general discursive strength, rather than to having previously been, what, womaner? Experience is still all over the board, of course—variation from call to call is significant, even if I've gotten better at dealing with them on average, because god knows who you're going to get on the phone and what they're going to be like that day.

And ultimately, stories about uneventful, acceptable phone service don't tend to go around the campfire nearly as often as the horror stories; and interactions that go well don't tend to get read for motivations and biases nearly so deeply by the participants as so those that go badly. So I think it's understandable that the bad stuff becomes kind of the defining characterization of the situation, but I think it's also kind of wobbly as a defensible portrait when taken in the context as a whole.

Which doesn't make misogynist jerks any less jerky or misogynistic.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:34 AM on February 21, 2008


Yay for Ms IB! School bureaucracy is stressful enough without jackasses using it as a stage for their personal power plays. I think you did the right thing. Perhaps I've watched too many Spaghetti Westerns, but the vision of a tall, silent man in long coat and cowboy hat providing moral support is quite cinematically satisfying.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:38 AM on February 21, 2008


My wife went through a similar dealing with the university when we were dating. I completely understand where Ms. IB is coming from - the entire process is set up to be intimidating, and the student is usually forced to go through these types of discussions alone and without a full understanding of the processes they are involved in. I pushed her to take a lawyer, or someone else who didn't have a personal relationship, with her to those meetings exactly because I was worried about the intimidation tactics being used by her faculty liaison in the meetings. She went alone, and left her program for two years because of it. So I say having a witness - no matter who or what they looked like - was the right move.

And in terms of this guy's requests for copies of the documentation? Let me just say - in my professional capacity - fuck that noise. Not only is that stuff hard to access for the person involved in the situation, its stuff he has no business requesting in the first place. A summary letter I could see being requested...but we protect files very closely, even with a request from the client, because we know how quickly third parties can mis-interpret and misunderstand the notes and documents that are entered on a file without knowing how the system grinds along in the first place.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:20 PM on February 21, 2008


From practical experience on both ends of the phones and a lot of discussion in the past with other folks who've been on both ends, I'm comfortable arguing that the phone service industry as a whole doesn't seem to be any more or less stabled with misogynists than any other industry.

In other words, it's chock-full of misogynists.
posted by languagehat at 1:26 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey, I'm really glad everything worked out. I also think that perhaps it had nothing to do with the size of the friend, nor some threat of imminent violence (um, wouldn't the campus official would have called security if he felt threatened?), but rather a sense of shame. Like, he probably knew that he was being a jerk about the situation, but having to be a jerk in front of a witness shamed some sort of common sense into him.
posted by emd3737 at 3:10 PM on February 21, 2008


From practical experience on both ends of the phones and a lot of discussion in the past with other folks who've been on both ends, I'm comfortable arguing that the phone service industry as a whole doesn't seem to be any more or less stabled with misogynists than any other industry.
In other words, it's chock-full of misogynists.


Flagged as offensive/sexist, but since we all know that comments are seldom moderated in Metatalk, I'm also just letting you know that I flagged it as such.
posted by tkolar at 5:11 PM on February 21, 2008


Good for you.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:05 PM on February 21, 2008


I flagged your mom.
posted by flabdablet at 12:50 AM on February 22, 2008


She wasn't impressed.
posted by tkolar at 8:34 AM on February 22, 2008


I'm sure that's what she told you.
posted by flabdablet at 4:08 PM on February 22, 2008




This is preposterous. Who the fuck tries to intimidate their way through the requirements for college? If you want to claim an exemption based on your past, you have to be willing to demonstrate that past. If you don't want to, then don't claim it. It's as simple as that. Scaring people into not asking is shitty, shitty behavior.
posted by OmieWise at 7:24 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dead horse, OmieWise. We're past the pitchforks and into the slow trickle of your-mom jokes until the thread dies.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:06 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know who else is into the slow trickle? YOUR MOM!
posted by ND¢ at 1:13 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


:applause:

Your raconteur (or should it be raconteuse, JV/Aurelia/?) angle is rather well done. Traumatized but arising like a triumphant phoenix, in some sort of endless operatic cycle, it's a story we humans need to hear. But like that lady who penned a story about being a feral child in WWII, you just can't let it stay as fiction.

At least Ayn Rand had the good sense to ostensibly pretend that she thought Dagny was fictional.
posted by ntartifex at 1:10 AM on March 18, 2008


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