The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Osteology Software Buying Blues

When I was an undergraduate, I took a class on human skeletal biology. The class was difficult*, and I was always on the lookout for anything that might help me out. To that end, one day, I headed to the local Software Etc. store**, thinking that, seeing as they were in a college town and did stock some educational software, they might have something that would be helpful.

I walked in, approached the counter, and explained to the guy standing there (the employee, not some random customer trying to buy his software) that I was an anthropology student, and was looking for educational software that covered human anatomy in general, and bone in particular.

the guy behind the counter - I am tempted to say "kid behind the counter" but he wouldn't have been much younger than me back then - snorted, and said "they weren't human."

A bit confused by his answer, I said something extraordinarily witty, like "huh?"

In about as condescending a tone as the little twit could muster he said "You said your an anthropology student. You don't study humans. You study those monkey things. Even if we have the software, it wouldn't help you."

I attempted to explain that anthropology was the study of humans - modern and otherwise - in general, and yes, I was looking for software on the anatomy of modern humans. His response? "No, you're looking at like Lucy and stuff.

I was flummoxed. On the one hand, I was trying to spend money in this guy's store, and his attitude was making it difficult for me to justify doing so, much less actually do it. On the other hand, I was an anthropology student, he had clearly never taken an anthropology class and didn't know anything about it, and I was clear in what I was looking for and that it would cover modern humans, and he was still insisting that somehow I was the one that didn't know what I was talking about.

I finally said "Look, I know what I am looking for, you obviously don't. I am studying the bones of modern humans, and I am looking for software that can help me study."

He snorted again, gave me a disdainful look, and said "Lucy wasn't a human."

I stared at him with irritation and said "depends on what you mean by human, but that's beside the point, because I am studying the bones of people walking around in the world today."

He rolled his eyes, gestured towards a rack of programs and said "there might be something over there."

I looked over, and then turned and walked out.

To this day, some sixteen years later, I still find myself wondering about why this guy had such an attitude. Was he simply one of those arrogantly ignorant fucks who is sure that he is the master of all sorts of specialized knowledge when he actually knows very little about, well, anything? Was he a creationist who was upset with the findings of paleoanthropologists and therefore wanted to show up one of them only showing his own ignorance in the process? Was he just a disagreeable ass who was unwilling to admit that his initial assumptions were wrong even as it became increasingly obvious that they were?

I don't know. What I do know is that that was the last time I ever walked into a Software Etc.

*Though in the end, I received either an A or B, I forget which.

**This was back when Software Etc., which has since merged with another store and become Gamestop, stocked a wide range of software, not just games. As odd as looking for something this specialized there might sound, they did sometimes have such specialized programs.


Lynn said...

How odd... and seemingly very contradictory. But, I guess that science deniers (which is what he sounds like) can also be software people.

Anthroslug said...

He may very well have been a science denier, but I also have to wonder if he wasn't just a know-it-all who knew very little and didn't like having it pointed out.