Starting our final week!
We're running a membership drive this month – our goal is 150 new members – and as a part of it we're including this blatant clickbait series... Besides, it's a chance to tell some of the funny stories that come up during cloudy nights at the VATT!
The old astronomer tells the tale... When I was a graduate student, we were paid a stipend by the department, money that our professors had written into their grants to pay for students. Our income was $300 per month, spread over ten months. (Summer salaries were another story; if they existed at all.)
You could just about make ends meet on this salary so long as you didn't have pesky needs like doctors or dentists or anything unexpected. Most of us got by on the basis of coming from families with enough money to backstop us. No surprise that the overwhelming majority of us were white, male, and mostly Protestant... and mostly single.
But one of our cohort was happily married with a small baby at home. We knew their finances were very tight, even as his wife was working part time (baby and all). But just how tight finally hit me the day that I saw him making tea, and re-using a tea bag.
"I buy one box of tea a year. Each bag has to last a week," he explained.
"The tea must get kind of weak by the end of the week," I commented. "Especially because... um... so... tell me, why are you holding your used teabag over the sink, under running water from the faucet?"
"To clean it," he explained. "Look how it turns the water brown while I am rinsing it off!"
(He was... is... a theorist. Big name in the field now. With a good income.)
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