March 25th, 2013

purple hair

How it usually goes.

I've made my own contributions to the #IAskedPolitely discussion, which probably got lost in the shuffle. But those are my unusual stories. Here are twothree real-life stories of what conflict resolution, in those kinds of scenarios, usually looks like for me.

I'm among a small group of hacker friends, and the subject of underrepresentation of women as conference speakers comes up. Someone suggests we list names. Len mentions a transwoman we know.

"Does $NAME really count?" someone asks.

"Yes, she counts," I say.

"Okay, she counts," the person agrees.

It's about 4am at a bar. I've been deep in conversation with a male friend for several hours, and we're both very intoxicated. We're leaned in close to hear each other over the music. "I'd really like to kiss you," he says.

"Actually I think that would be a terrible idea," I blurt out.

"Okay," my friend says, and we go back to whatever it was we were talking about.

Some months later we run into each other in the same bar. I try to apologise for being so abrupt that night. "Don't you see?" he says. "All I wanted from you was honesty, and you gave that to me. I couldn't be happier."

Edit: This one requires a little background. Let me introduce you to my "friend" SID. We've been living together for years, and it's why you'll never see me in a car with the window rolled down: the physical sensation of wind drives me to distraction.

So it's a windy morning in Hamburg, and the line to pick up wristbands for 29c3 wraps around the conference center. thequux and I are bundled up tightly, and he tries to provide a windbreak as best he can, but I have six inches on him and there's only so much he can do. After half an hour in line, we enter the vestibule and the immediate stimulus as gone, but my nerves are still ringing like a five-alarm fire. "You drive," I tell him, and he handles all the complicated interacting-with-humans issues involved in getting our wristbands. The Angels have no problem with this.

A few minutes later, we are in the conference and running into friends we haven't seen in months. "No hugs right now!" I say over and over. People are surprised, but understanding. "Would a beer help?" suggests someone with my friend Jayson. "Depressants, great idea," I say, and we go to the bar. One beer and half an hour later there is still some residual jangliness, but physical contact is no longer startling or painful.

This is the kind of interaction I'm used to in the hacker scene. It's why I feel comfortable there.

What is it that's so different for me?