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Lab Mom

Lab Mom spent 15 years as a Lab Manager in Academia before off-tracking in 2010 to stay at home with her two daughters. She blogs about the juggling act of motherhood and a science career, which encompasses a lot more then the cliche work-life balance.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today I was listening to Car Talk from NPR, which happens to be one of my favorite pod-casts. (If you live under a rock and don't know what Car Talk is, it is a call-in radio show featuring two hilarious brothers who give car repair advice, along with equal parts harassment.)

What does this have to do with my science blog? Ah-ha! I'm getting to that!

Today's episode featured a caller who happened to be a newly appointed college professor who was seeking advice about what kind of car to purchase. She was currently driving a beat up 1992 Honda Civic Hatchback (sexy!) and didn't think that fit the stereotype of a college professor. She was worried that people would mistake her for a lowly TA or graduate student if they saw her rust-bucket out in the faculty parking lot.

Now, I am not exactly sure what kind of car the stereotypical college professor is supposed to drive, but Click and Clack had their opinions. That is where it got amusing: The Tappet brothers suggested that the type of car a professor drives should be more closely correlated to their discipline and not the mere fact they are a college professor. However there is one caveat: ALL professors should clearly distinguish themselves from their former roles as grad students and TAs.

Ha! What great advice! Just landed yourself a new professor appointment? Go out and drop some dough on a decent car! Nobody wants their professor driving around in the Chevy Cavalier their mom gave them in high school. That is just embarrassing!


The Profmobile


But keep in mind not all professors are created equal! Tom and Ray suggested this caller, being a liberal arts professor, should drive something along the lines of a Honda Accord (quite the upgrade from her 25 year old Civic!) A car that says "I'm a grown up and I have a real job!" while also implying "I am overworked and underpaid since I teach music history for a living!"

Now on the other hand, if you were.. say.. a professor of Economics or Law, that lands you in the luxury vehicle realm. We are talking BMWs and Lexuses (or is it Lexxi?) If you are going to be constantly talking about money, it should look like you have some. Come on now! You have an image to uphold here!

Unfortunately, Tom and Ray didn't indicate what professors in Medicine or the Physical Sciences should be driving. I would venture to guess they would say a mid or upper range SUV of some sort. A car like that says "I'm hands on and not afraid to get dirty!" Or maybe a hybrid compact vehicle that costs more than it will ever make up for in fuel economy. Something that screams "I'm a biologist and I care about living things!"

I dunno. It was an entertaining conversation. I will confess I haven't really noticed a huge trend in the faculty parking lot. But I'm going to keep my eyes peeled next time, to see what everyone is driving. I sincerely hope there aren't any 1992 Honda Civic Hatchbacks. That would be just a little sad.





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Blog Comments

Gerty-Z
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I ride the bus or run. I hope that makes me look like I care about living things and not sad! :-)

Doctor Zen
The University of Texas-Pan American
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Walk.

becca
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Oh, I dunno. Technically, the 25 year old civic is much more reflective of logic AND caring about living things. The carbon impact of a new car generally trumps any gains in fuel efficiency. (unless special circumstances apply. Perhaps if you're driving 30,000 miles a year, it would make sense to get the new car)
GMP

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Fun post, Lab Mom! Where I am, Subarus reign supreme. Toyotas and Hondas are also ubiquitous. Profs, like other parents, drive SUVs or vans once kids arrive; sedans pre-kids or as a second car (some of us don't live close to campus, to avoid paying a ton of money for shoe box housing; I suppose that makes me a planet hater on several accounts?). There are also a number of hybrids.

Genomic Repairman
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We have PI's here that drive BMWs and other fine luxury vehicles and then others that drive just normal Toyota, Honda, and Subaru sedans. I think most professors are pretty sensible in their vehicle choice, mainly because they had to live off peanuts as they came up through the ranks and aren't going to blow there hard earned money on a chick magnet. But to the ones that do, can I borrow it? I'll promise to wash it and gas it up before I bring it back.

Odyssey
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I walk...
lylebot

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Just in case you didn't know, one of the Tappet brothers has a Ph.D. and actually spent some time as a professor. So they know what they're talking about :)

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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I used to ride my bike :( However, my thesis PI bought a Porsche boxster the second year I was in grad school. He drives it in autocrosses now. His wife thought he was crazy for 1) spending that much on a car and 2) for spending so much on special tires for his "races."

Lab Mom
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I rock a minivan, so clearly I have no qualms about not looking cool.

Geeka
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Jackass got his car stolen when I was a 3rd year. It was a honda hatchback of some variety, that he bought from the grad student that I replaced, so that the grad student could by an engagement ring. The funny thing is that the first word out of everyone's mouth when he told us his car was stolen, was asking him if he left he keys in the car. He got really, really angry, but never answered the question.

He replaced it with a Passat, which he promptly tracked dog-shit in.

The thing about Jackass is that he most often bikes in. The weird thing is that he always puts his bike in his office, because he feels that he shouldn't have to put the bike w/ the student bikes, in case someone wants to do something to his bike.

genegeek
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I try to walk as much as possible...but I'm also married to a car guy. Some of the young male students decided I was cool when they saw me driving our Nissan GT-R.

Tideliar
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Or maybe a hybrid compact vehicle that costs more than it will ever make up for in fuel economy. Something that screams "I'm a biologist and I care about living things!"

Skateboard?

biochem belle
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I've seen a wide range of professorial autos. Ranging from typical nondescript sedans to late model Mercedes/BMWs. Even a Ferrari-although it should be obvious that wasn't paid for with his academic earnings.

Tideliar
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Can I have some spam with my spam, spam, spam, eggs, spam and spam?
auto parts

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Geeka said: Jackass got his car stolen when I was a 3rd year. It was a honda hatchback of some variety, that he bought from the grad student that I replaced, so that the grad student could by an engagement ring. The funny thing is that the first word out of everyone's mouth when he told us his car was stolen, was asking him if he left he keys in the car. He got really, really angry, but never answered the question. He replaced it with a Passat, which he promptly tracked dog-shit in. The thing about Jackass is that he most often bikes in. The weird thing is that he always puts his bike in his office, because he feels that he shouldn't have to put the bike w/ the student bikes, in case someone wants to do something to his bike.


Doesn't really matter what type of car to choose. the thing there is how you can deal on your car. Well, subarus and toyotas were great machines though they find some difficulties with regards to the sales this year. Not just on their models but also with the auto parts they've been marketing for years. For college professor, such a great thing to have rare car models though can fit on their budget. Honda civic is not that bad in my own point of view. Once owned it but was already sold because i could not take care of it anymore. Funny though some sort of awesome story from you. Great share!

Reymundo

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Volvo 240 wagon. the older the better. Ultimate prof car, practically guarantees tenure! <smiley insert here>

 

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