How many times can I embarrass myself in one week?

This morning at 6am I had a job interview; at least I thought I did. My instructions were to be online at 5pm GMT on March 26th. I spent so much time checking and double-checking that 5pm GMT was indeed 6am New Zealand time that it didn’t occur to me that 5pm on the 26th of March in Greenwich is actually the 27th of March here in Auckland. So yes, I was a day early. This would have been fine had I not started a three-way conference chat with my interviewers who were both rather confused. The first lesson from Interviews 101 folks is be sure to get the date of your interview correct. This includes both the time and day.

But this is not my first embarrassing moment this week. There was another:

Ben, my husband, occasionally gets asked to be an examiner for PhD students located in Europe. This means that the oral exam is conducted via video conferencing using Skype and usually very late NZ time. This is exactly what was going on the other night when I awoke not long before midnight needing to use the toilet.

I knew there was going to be skyping that night and I could hear skyping when I stumbled out of bed and down the stairs wearing only a t-shirt; a short t-shirt; and nothing else. Usually Ben uses his laptop which faces a corner of the kitchen but not this time. This time he was using my computer which faces the stairs. Can you guess where I’m going with this? I vaguely remember saying “f*ck” and running back up the stairs mortified.

There I was, stood in my bedroom, desperate to use the toilet and wondering what to do. I briefly entertained the idea of using my water glass but although Australian, I’m not quite as “magnificently unconventional” as Lilly, the barmaid from Kalgoorlie. So I made myself decent, turned the stairwell light off and slunk down the stairs as inconspicuously as possible.

Needless to say, I was very cross when Ben eventually came to bed. Ben assures me that the student was too focussed to take any notice. I can only hope.


16 responses to “How many times can I embarrass myself in one week?”

  1. Oooh good luck with the job.  

    And this was such a funny story.  They should definitely give the job to someone who makes us all laugh at the end of a long day.


  2. Oh Rachel, I would have died. What a time for it to happen. Perhaps you need a chamber pot for those nights when Ben might be skyping with his PhD students. Chamber pots are definitely a better alternative to glasses. Best of luck for tomorrow! 🙂 No doubt you’ll be appropriately clothed for this appearance.

  3. OT re earthquakes, warnings about and the general ignoring thereof: ICYMI,. No surprises there for a local, but the author failed to carefully distinguish between great earthquakes (like 1906 in SF) and the more frequent smaller ones similar to what you experienced recently. The SF-centricity didn’t help with communicating the full picture, as the biggest threat in the region is from a great earthquake on the Hayward fault, which unlike the main San Andreas plate boundary fault runs directly through some very densely-populated areas (including where I live – yay me!). Actually downtown SF (including the SoMA area beloved of tech firms) is about equidistant from the San Andreas and Hayward, so the latter could potentially do just as much damage there. And given sufficient time and continued cluelessness, will.

    I guess a common view around the world is that it’s the best and the brightest now flocking to SoMA. Personally I find it scary to think that might be true.

    • I’m surprised people are not required to take out earthquake insurance. In New Zealand there’s a government-owned fund specifically designed to pay for the cost of natural disasters – the earthquake commission. It was established after the war and was originally designed to cover the costs of war as well as natural disasters. I believe the recent sequence of earthquakes to strike Canterbury has run the fund dry though.

      Have you experienced any of the large quakes in SF? My experience of Christchurch is that it’s not so much the initial quake to fear – although it was terrifying – but the constant aftershocks, the stress of damage to your home and possible loss of home or property values; the job losses; the damaged infrastructure and the widespread anxiety which affects everyone differently but no-one really escapes, even the most relaxed. Then it’s a decade or more before things return to normal again.

      My neighbour worked in a pharmacy and she said they were constantly selling out of sleeping pills. I knew of people sleeping fully clothed in case an aftershock struck throughout the night. It’s not a pleasant way to live.

    • One other thing, I don’t know whether you know but most New Zealanders don’t know that bigger earthquakes last longer. Less than mag. 5 lasts 10 seconds or so; mag. 6-7 lasts for about 30-40 seconds; bigger than mag. 8 can last for several minutes.

  4. Real estate is the state religion here, Rachel. Mortgaged property in designated flood zones must have insurance, but now that push has started coming to shove this is what happened with that (and note what group is identified as the primary advocate for the delay) . There is zero talk about even going that far with earthquake insurance. See here for the up-to-date (and quite sad) picture in California.

    I was around for the Loma Prieta earthquake, although far enough away that all it did was scare the cats and knock over a bookshelf. We didn’t get a lot of aftershocks from that, at least not big ones. My vague understanding is that both that and duration are pretty variable, although I’m sure you’re right about the general relationship between magnitude and duration.

    A related point is that things get pretty quiet in the decades following a great earthquake. In SF, there was little activity in the mid-1800s, an increasing amount building up to 1906, quiet again follow that until about mid-century, and again on a build-up more recently. The Hayward fault is actually due for a major earthquake any time now. Based on historical activity, technically this would be a large rather than great earthquake, maybe 7.0, but due to so many people being practically on top of it , would do worse , probably much worse, damage than a repeat of 1906 on the San Andreas. You’d think people would take a hint.

    • I must say the Hayward fault sounds very scary. One thing people in Christchurch got quite good at was guessing the magnitude of an aftershock based on the severity of shaking and the length of shaking. Strong but short quakes were small and near while weak but long quakes were big but further away. There were more than 10,000 aftershocks although I never felt anything less than a 3 and even then I often missed those. But all the 4s, 5s and the three 6s and one 7 we felt were enough to get a feel for the magnitude of a given shake. The near ones were the worst. Even a distance of 10 or 20km made a big difference. I wouldn’t want a big fault like that running through my neighbourhood.

      I presume you’ve earthquake-proofed your house? I thought we had done a pretty good job but our house was still trashed. Stuff flew everywhere including our fridge. Who fixes their fridge to the wall? Broken glass is a problem, particularly if it happens at night and the power goes out – which it always does – as a result. Imagine walking barefoot with glass everywhere while you search for a torch. And it’s no use keeping a torch on a table beside your bed because unless you tie it down, it won’t be there when the shaking stops.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: