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May 14, 2010

Overheard in the grad student lounge...

I'm in D.C. for a week to see friends and explore a city I keep meaning to visit. More on that, soon. But first, a short illustrative anecdote.

When I was back on campus, I was sitting in the grad student lounge of my department. A bunch of people were there working, and at one point someone opened a window (ok, it was me) to let in a gust of cool air. It was really cold outside -- in the low 50s -- but this was much needed air, I assure you, since the room felt like no one had opened a window since 2006.

A woman in the room told the friend sitting across from her: "It's so cold in here. I'm gonna go grab my scarf from next door."

She left and returned with a scarf.

Two minutes later, she told her friend: "God, it's cold in here. I'm going to find a different room. My fingers are freezing, I can't type."

She packed up her things and left.

A minute after she left, her friend turned to everyone else in the room and he asked, "Does anyone mind if I close the window? It is kind of cold in here."

The room had meanwhile aired out. No one minded. The window was closed.

The non-asker ended up in some other room, perhaps grumbling at the open window or window opener. The asker ended up in a warm room, sitting where he pleased. I almost hate it that a man and a woman are the protagonists -- it's almost too simple, to tempting to reduce this to a gender thing!

To make it more than a gender thing, the next post rephrases the question along different terms: asking versus guessing.
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