Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The People You Meet in Grad School: Part 3

Well hello there Blogosphere (and those wandering over from Facebook)!

You may have noticed I took a short hiatus there for about a week and a half. I was, however, in England on Spring Break. So, sue me for not carving out sufficient time to write a blog while I was there.

I've been back to the academic grind for three days now, which I assure you is plenty of time to rediscover my fascinations/annoyances/ruminations/grievances of my fellow students. I actually thought of so many more categories for this serial-blog that it was hard to settle on one. But for now, I give you....

3. The Interjecting One Upper

Ahhh, one uppers. Aren't they great? (This is of course rhetorical. If you can actually answer any form of the word "yes" to this question, you should probably stop reading my blog.)

No. One uppers are some of the more infuriating people walking this good green earth. In graduate classes, these attention starved wannabe intellectuals take it to the extreme. The worst part is that it's impossible to spot these individuals by appearances alone. They could be anyone from the middle-aged guy whose wardrobe hasn't evolved out of the 1970s to the chick with hippie braids fresh out of an all-women's liberal arts school "up north."

You can't be sure who might be an Interjecting One Upper (IOU) at the beginning of the semester, but it becomes screamingly evident within a couple of class periods. If you're lucky, you find out via another classmate who is the IOU's first victim. They have a couple of techniques, but it almost always involves an interjection of some sort.

You meekly raise your hand in one of the first class periods because you're still feeling out both your professor and your new classmates and you just want to get your participation points and call it a day. You begin to make some intelligent-sounding (albeit safe and non-controversial) comment about guilt in Othello and then...


The IOU comes side-tackling in with their much more important, much more intelligent, much wittier comment and your pitiful attempt at contributing to the discussion goes down the shitter, flushed with triumphant gusto by the IOU.

They go about their interjections and subsequent "genius" remarks in a few ways.

Sometimes they will phrase it in the form of a question, so as to allocate room for the slight chance that their contradiction is not 100% right. This is simply a social formality. Everyone in the room knows that this person believes anything they say is more correct or original than anything a fellow student might have to say. Something like, "Oh, but ISN'T everything I'm about to say much more accurate and in-depth than what Sparknotes McGee said over there?" Technically it's a question, but really it's a crotch-blow insult to whoever they just cut off.

Another favorite tactic of the IOU's interruptions are "knowing looks" to the professor. About 3 class periods into the semester, the IOU has most likely already alienated most, if not all, of their classmates. So, upon making their pompous interjections, they will then look at the professor. They look in such a way that suggests the two of them are in some academic dimension so far above the rest of us that, even though we are shooting the IOU scathing death glares, it must just be because we can't possibly comprehend the complex point they are making.

Wrong. It's because you are obnoxious and the rest of us have formed a camaraderie based upon our dislike of you.

Let it also be known that the Interjecting One Upper is apparently an expert on any and all subject matter that could possibly be posed in discussion by another classmate. From Classics to the modern novel, the IOU has been there, done that, gotten the (probably liberal) T-shirt, and is most definitely more learned than you on the topic.

To make matters worse, this trait hardly ever comes by its lonesome either. The IOU tends to be a subcategory of at least some other type of grad student. Like say, maybe, the Flaming Liberal.

And since the IOU is so obtrusive and outspoken, all the rest of us can do is revel in that camaraderie with which we are bestowed simply because of the presence of this individual.

--Coming soon will be more TPYMIGS installments, including "The Blip" and "The Professor's Best Friend"--


  1. haha good blog! I hate one uppers too...its clear from day one who they will be!

    I <3 the way you write, it feels like I'm just talking to one of my friends! Great voice!


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