Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Engineers, Actuaries, and a Member of the Family

My Hygienist was complaining that it is very difficult for her to get agreement on almost anything from her husband. Not that he is contrary. More that he is an Engineer. As such, he is always in search of a solution, often before there is a problem. What should they have for supper? He pauses and seems to weigh what is in the refrigerator, what they had most recently, what is the time of preparation? When what his wife was prepared to do was give him the two choices she had in mind. What she ends up doing is making her own selection while he is still contemplating the problem.

I found this true working as I have over the years with IT people and with Actuaries. For the most part I think I have some agreement that these people fall into a general class of People Who Watch Their Shoes. They find it distracting to make eye contact. Time has beaten them down from being the first to engage in conversation. They are bright, often a wealth of knowledge and experience, but are difficult to figure out.

I have a theory that in the classical chicken-egg story, that their personality draws them to their chosen occupation.

My sister was an Architectural Engineer. My father was always fascinated over what drew her to compete as one of only three women in a five-year curriculum. I on the other hand was sure that anyone who lined all their shoes up in a row to polish them every Saturday must have a different mindset than I. My father felt she was living in a world he would never comprehend. I was sure of it. He once asked her, “What do you see when you look through that telescope thing on stilts?” My sister explained that there was a man somewhere down there with a stick and it was very important to learn things about the stick and where the man was

I explained my theory (and my prospective Blog) to a friend who is a teacher. He reflected and then told me that he could tell who, in the teacher community, came from an engineering background. “They teach differently;” he said. “All facts and reasons and analysis instead of discovery.” In his mind this seemed to be a negative.

In my field, Dentistry, I have always been amazed at the variety of the personalities who turn to the field as a profession. Everyone, including me, seems to have some sort of passion for an avocation beyond the profession they have chosen. In my case, when I was graduating from high school, with no thought of what I wanted to do with my life, my mother took me to Ames, Iowa for a two-day battery of tests to determine my “aptitude”. In the interview following the tests, the conclusion was that I could be anything that I wanted to be, although I seemed to have an inclination toward the creative fields…like advertising.

I could have been one of the Mad Men (I graduated high school in the mid-fifties).

My father became a strong influence as I began to flunk out of my creative curricula, primarily because he had encouraged me to include subjects like Physics (under James Van Allen), chemistry, biology (made a great frog), and other subjects that tested me and prepared me for my eventual career. He took away my check book and car, sent me to a Catholic boy’s school in Minnesota where his brother was the Bishop and probably single-handedly propelled me in a year into dental school. Thank you, Dad.

So, although I don’t look at my shoes, I am reflective of the analytical side of things. I am guilty of solving my wife’s problems before she tells me they are problems, and of finishing her sentences before she does. I think my Purgatory will be having to listen to every sentence I never let the speaker finish.

Where do you fit into the “personality chose my profession”?

I may take a vacation break from my Blog for a week, but if not, research that I am doing visiting Wisconsin will prepare me for a piece on the “Minnesota Meltdown”. Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment