March 20, 2012

Story of a wimpy kid

I think the biggest challenge for a thesis writer is to focus consistently on her writing no matter what happens around her. This is something I have yet to master. Like yesterday morning for example, I had this crazy urge to shut my colleague's mouth with a mop simply 'cos he was chatting with another colleague. I got so distracted by their conversation, I couldn't focus on anything else.

Before I go on, let me spill the 411 about this guy. Let's call him L. L is new in his PhD journey and is currently in the process of writing his proposal. Last month, he went through a hard time deciding what topic to do as he was torn between his own choice and the one recommended by his supervisor. The problem was, he couldn't say NO to his supervisor. Since I was the only one around, he came to me to spill his guts out.

After 2 weeks of counselling, I turned into a wreck myself. The more L talked, the less focused I became and the more frustrated I felt with myself. In an attempt to end his and my misery, I decided  to be blunt. I told him "If you don't think you can handle this topic now, what makes you think you can handle it in the next 3 years? This isn't a short-term commitment." I told him that and a few other things along those lines. The advice was given in response to his many complaints: I have no background in X, I've never done a qualititative study, this topic is too difficult, bla bla bla bla bla. When I was done talking, he nodded and said "yeah, you're right". I was relieved. No more counselling session! Yay!

The next morning, he came to the office, looking all chirpy and bubbly. He said "Hey Alice, I've  told J what I want to do and she seems okay with it!" Good on him, I thought.

A few days later, I attended a friend's barbecue party where I met L's supervisor. When she saw me, she marched slowly toward me, patted my shoulder and started this conversation:

J: So I heard that you have led one of our PhD students astray.

As you might have guessed, I went all PUCAT. 

Me: No I didn't.

J: Well, a few days ago, L came to tell me that he didn't want to change his topic. When I asked him why, he said you told him not to.

Me: Me?? He said that??

J: He specifically said "Alice told me to choose a topic that I'm interested in".

Sot kan si L? I began to feel hot in the face 'cos our conversation got some of my colleagues' attention.

Me: It's not like that. He came to me for advise. I never told him to do anything. I mean, I was just trying to help...

J: That's not what L said (she smiled). He said "ALICE told me to choose my own topic".

Me: NO NO NO. I said "If you don't think you can handle this topic now, what makes you think you can handle it in the next three years?". That's all.

I was about to string another paragraph of explanation but J didn't let me finish.

J: Oh well, don't worry about it (still smiling). I think you're right...and I told L "Alice is right. You should follow your heart".

She said a few other things to make light of the situation but I never recovered from my shock. I was so pissed at L. I mean, taken out of context, it sounded as if I was a nosy-parker, meddling into his business. Why didn't he just tell her the truth?! Babun!

As I lay in bed that night, I imagined myself confronting him in the office. I wanted to tell him how unprofessional he had been and how serious the matter was. But that wasn't enough. I was so angry, I wanted to take him by the neck and choke-slam  him like Kane in WWE. You know what WWE is right? Okay. Just picture Kane vs. Mr Bean. Begitula my imagination.

The next morning, I went to the office, ready for action.  I waited and waited at my desk but he never showed up. Not the next day or the day after. In fact, he went MIA for one whole week. When he did show up, which was eons later, I have lost all the Kane-rage in me. I was like "Ahhh...Biarlah dia. Bikin kesian juga muka dia ni." 

So. That brings us to yesterday morning and the part where I wanted to shut him up with a mop. When I heard him talking to another colleague (loudly), asking for advice on proposal guidelines, I suddenly felt sick inside. There he goes again, playing that clueless-guy-in-distress act. He's confused because the topic is too difficult, bla bla bla. He's not sure how long the lit review should be, bla bla bla. He has so much to read bla bla bla. He's lost, bla bla bla. When I heard my new colleague comforting and guiding him like a good therapist, I was so tempted to say: He is TROUBLE! I almost spewed some word vomit but the voice in my head told me to shut up.

She's right.

I have bigger things to worry about: thesis, kids, wrinkles, eye bags, house chores, chipped nails, how to ship my stuff to KK etc etc. In the end, I decided to keep quiet, put on my imaginary ear muffs and ignore the wimp for the rest of the day. Let him be. If he continues misquoting people, sooner or later someone will give him the choke-slam he so deserves.


Edith said...

That's so irritating. I'm imagining myself cekik2 dia smpi matai..haha..

Amanda Christine Wong said...

woah, what a wimp! if me i don't think i can take the high road >:)

Tina said...

Lizee! Hellooo! It's been months since I read anybody's blog. I didn't know how much I missed yours till I was reading this.

Re 'wimpy kid' you have my sympathy... and my respect for your self control. He deserves a good bash on the head. Someone else may just do the favour for you!

Great post, btw!

Writing From Far said...

oh he just such a pathetic.

Writing From Far said...

oh he just such a pathetic.

Gunaqz said...

Eee.. bikin geram oo membaca ini post. Saya sikotol noh itu urang!

Lizeewong said...

Edith- Ya ba. Geram juga sia but sia tahan2 ja. malas juga mau make a scene :/

Manda- Kan?? I almost exploded but kept my cool cos he looks so helpless.

Tina - Helloooooo! I've missed your presence too! I know you've writtenm a couple of posts but I haven't had the time to read. It's in my MUST DO list tu, btw. Thanks for the read Tina.

WFF- He is! Thanks for dropping by :)

Gunaqz - Bikin girigitan kan..Btw gunaqz, apa tu sikotol? :)

oji said...

bikin panasss...
sikotol = mau strangle

Lizeewong said...

Oji- Ya ba..sampai berapi-api. Thank you for the sikotol definition Oji. Nah ada new vocab suda dia :)

chegu carol said...

eh, thought i have left a comment here. hmmm..nvm.

erkkk bikin gerigitan itu 'kawan' kau tu Liz. i would shut my mouth too tapi my wall of ignorance towards him will definitely kena jacked up. hehehe

Joo Ensen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joo Ensen said...

Hi, teacher^^
I was attracted to read this one Teacher. Teacher is very cool when confronting such a misquoting person in Teacher's life. If me, I will hate him and may be blackmailing him hehe :P

Teacher, thank you for sharing such a very great story :D I would like to read more from this blog. By the way, it's not too late to wish Teacher and family have a blessed Good Friday and Happy Easter Day!^^ Say hi to Alva and Alden too

This story is such a great lesson for me too. Thank you Teacher^^