I’m not totally sure why people feel the need to offer unsolicited commentary about other people’s (read: my) choices.
I’m at the movement disorders conference in Hong Kong right now, which means meeting up with former attendings, and a lot of networking. (I’m getting better at this, slowly.) I moved from a high-profile training institution to a faculty job at a place that you have definitely heard of, but does not have the intense academic reputation of the places where I trained. It is in a mid-sized city in the South. So in the eyes of most academically-oriented conferencers, it already has two strikes against it.
Conversations I’ve had with people in the first 24 hours of the conference:
Them: Why would you go there?
Me: They gave me the perfect offer. I’m doing exactly what I thought maybe I’d get to do in 20 years’ time, but to do it straight out of training….
Them: Well, there’s the job, and then there is life.
Them: So how do you like it there?
Me: I’m still getting to know the city and the region, but it’s been great so far. I really like XYZ.
Them: I would never move to the South.
Them: What do you like least about it?
Me: The car culture has been tough. I miss being able to walk or bike almost everywhere. Errands are a little easier with a car, but you don’t engage as much with the world when you’re locked in a 2 ton vehicle, and everything’s a little less spontaneous.
Them: That’s tough. I bet that’s why people are racist. [see below]
Them: Is it segregated?
Me: Some. It’s a majority minority city, but it’s gentrifying hard, and a lot of the wealth is concentrated in newish suburbs, or million-dollar-condo projects downtown. Honestly, though, most segregated place I’ve ever lived was New York City. It was like there was one NYC for the rich and the tourists and the movies, and another for those of us who actually lived there. And “neighborhood feel,” like in Flushing or Washington Heights, are really just a hipster name for segregation.
Them: HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT, NEW YORK IS AWESOME, WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA.
Them: Are people racist?
Me: Some are. There are good people and bad people everywhere.
Them: Not in the Pacific Northwest!
Me (in my head): Seriously?
I’m not even emotionally connected to this new city (and actually, the decision to take this job was emotionally fraught for other reasons; I am still somewhere in the grieving process on that, so these conversations are really not helping right now), but I’m angered on its behalf that people are so comfortable with spouting broad stereotypes to someone they just met without examining what led them to those ideas — just like the racists they say they hate.