The Cold Dish Delivery
A long-forgotten (for some) transgression rears its head at a most unfortunate time.
Chapter One: The Interrogative Derailment
The Cal Tech Tenure Committee scheduled its interviews to take place over a 4-day period. Four candidates, one day each, Monday through Thursday. Friday the committee would meet and sum up. Final decisions would be made over the following two weeks and an announcement of the successful candidates name would take place shortly thereafter.
In order to deal with the myriad scheduling conflicts posed by the candidates and the members of the committee (who consisted faculty from all over CalTech, not just the Physics Department) the interviews began at 5:00pm and were intended to end by 7.
Barry Kripke was first, on Monday. Though Barry was a brilliant physicist, the spoken word was not his friend. When he was virtually silent about the process the following day, the boys assumed that his interview hadn't gone well.
Raj was next, on Tuesday. Until recently this was the part of the process Raj feared most. Two of the members of the committee were women and he knew that imbibing alcohol before one of the most important meetings in his life was not a terribly good idea. However, his new ability to speak to pretty much everyone has imbued him with the confidence to tame the interview lion.
"Dr. Koothrapali, you will be made aware of our decisions regarding tenure in due time," said Dr. Gabelhauser. "You understand that none of what was discussed in this room is to be shared with anyone else, especially the other candidates. Failure to abide by this stricture will affect your standing in the academic community."
And then Raj left, shaking. He was supposed to meet everyone at The Cheesecake Factory after his interview. After all, it was Tuesday. He debated not going. After all, they were going to pepper him with questions that he couldn't answer, that he shouldn't answer. He almost regretted his ability to now speak to women. After all, Bernadette and Amy Farrah Fowler would be at dinner and Penny would be serving. Previously that would have rendered him mute. Now all he could do was repeat what Dr. Gebelhauser had told him. He knew that both Leonard and Sheldon were about to be caught unawares, just as he had been, and there was nothing he could do to warn them.
When he arrived at The Cheesecake Factory everyone was seated and Penny had already begun taking their orders.
"Hi sweetie," said the pretty waitress, "what are you going for this week."
Raj thought, "Better not risk the wrath of the gods," and went with a Caesar Salad.
Dinner proceeded and Raj was silent. It was just like old times. And then Leonard asked, "How did your interview go, Raj?" And Raj quickly put another forkful of salad into his mouth, and then pointed to his mouth. Knowing how Sheldon felt about open-mouthed chewing, Raj knew he was safe as long as the salad held out, which unfortunately would not be much longer. Once he was done he knew he had to say something, anything.
"I think it went well, but I'm not permitted to speak of anything that was discussed there with anyone, especially Leonard and Sheldon, since they are also candidates."
"That must be why Barry Kripke gave everyone the silent treatment today," said Leonard.
"I really can't imagine why knowing what they discussed with Raj would have any relevance to what they would be discussing with Leonard or myself. We are involved in very different areas of endeavor," contributed Sheldon.
Then Amy Farrah Fowler piped in. "Sheldon, the granting of tenure is not solely a reward for knowledge gained and/or dispensed. It also measures your place in the academic community and your "good citizenship" as a member of such. In addition, confidentiality is key as a measure of trust. Disrespecting the process could easily work against you."
"I'm sure you did really well, Raj," said Bernadette. Everyone else at the table nodded or mumbled agreement and Raj felt he was now off the hook, at least off this one.
When they finished dinner, everyone went their separate ways. Leonard wanted to call it an early night. He thought about what Amy said and decided he should be well rested for his interview the following day. He was pretty sure he had the inside track for the tenure position due to his participation in the Hawking Expedition to the North Sea. It had made all the papers. Some even had photographs of him. The expedition and its anticipated results had been the subject of a number of scientific blogs. The University had already received donations based on his participation. Leonard said to himself, "This whole process is a formality. I'm a shoo-in." And Penny's double-barreled attack at Professor Tupperman's funeral was memorable enough to still be the subject of conversation at the University. Leonard probably should have listened a bit closer to what Amy had said.
Leonard's interview was going swimmingly. He was sociable. He was knowledgeable. Having grown up the son of academics, he knew the political ins and outs of the tenure process. He not only knew what questions would be asked, he knew the right way to answer them. He knew exactly how much hubris was appropriate.
"Dr. Hofstader, we have one final area of inquiry, and it's a critical one. We'd appreciate it if you answer the following question truthfully," insisted Dr. Gabelhauser.
"Of course I will, Dr. Gabelhauser. Being honest is critical in the academic community and on the university campus."
"Thank you, Dr. Hofstader. I'm very happy that you responded with those words."
Leonard was prepared. He was certain he was about to ace the interview and be granted tenure.
"Dr. Hofstader, did you devise a plan to falsify the results of Dr. Sheldon Cooper's research on monopoles on a National Science Foundation Research Expedition to the Arctic."
All the color left Leonard's face.