Tactless Tom: An MA student for the ages


Deep in the bowels of the Clearihue Building, there exists a man of legend and myth. A man who floats in the clouds and hides in the shadows and spits hatred at the sun. He runs after cars and arm-wrestles dogs and lives for the very danger we all seek to avoid. He is a graduate student named Tactless Tom.

The story of Tactless Tom stretches back eons ago to a time when recipients of MAs first began to assemble for the purpose of reasoned thought and co-operative drinking. In the early days of such productive adventures, undergraduate students would often pass blustering TAs arguing verbosely over cheap lager and flimsy burgers.

Nowadays, the lager is pricier and the burgers have been replaced with dried noodles, but the TAs remain just as blustery, and Tom just as Tactless. Once, in conversation with a French exchange student, Tactless Tom got into an hour-long argument over whether the French student’s hometown was part of Germany or not. The professor, destined to become his supervisor several years hence, was finally forced to correct him, thereby setting off what was to become an academic love story for the ages.

It’s said that once, at a faculty party, Tactless Tom snuck off to go through the drawers of his thesis advisor. Not in a creepy way; he was simply fond of her academics and wanted to peruse her work. He also wanted to live in her attic, and asked his thesis advisor’s babysitter to email him pictures of the house’s interior.

Nowadays, he isn’t as young or flexible as he used to be, which makes it harder to get away with breaking-and-entering, so he mostly limits himself to awkward hallway encounters and cameras with powerful zooms.

He doesn’t mean any harm, and for the most part he doesn’t cause any. His booming voice and jovial personality serve to overcome his fondness for writing blustering comments on the essays he marks. I’m not sure he’s ever been to Europe, but he’s got an opinion on every country there just the same.

If, perhaps on an overcast day in the middle of winter, you should ever pass by Tactless Tom in the hall, fear not. For even if he should make a comment about the size of your nose or ask if you’re pregnant or just frequently hungry, he means nothing by it. That’s just the way he is. Good old Tactless Tom.