I know I've mentioned it many times before, but one of the annoying surprises I got when I became a professor was the intimidation factor. I'm not sure whether it was the PhD or the professor appointment (since I got a job about a month after defending), but people suddenly found me very frightening.
Some faculty find this satisfying, and take a perverse pleasure in seeing people bow and scrape before them. Me, on the other hand -- I hate the way it prevents intimacy.
Nearly all of my friends where I live now are professors. This isn't because I prefer the company of professors (it has both its pleasures and its pains), but because as soon as people find out what I do for a living, they suddenly become very awkward. I think in people's minds, they fear I might don my cap and gown, stand behind a podium on a raised dias, and (while being backlit) point an accusing finger down upon them, shouting "Ignoramus! Certifiable ignoramus!", thus prompting government officials in white coats whisk them off to a lab where medical experiments are performed on mental defectives.
Of course, this scenario is total nonsense. Where would I find such good backlighting?
Today I had a conversation with a woman who knew me as a child (you know, when I spake as a child and understood as a child), and who (by wonderful coincidence) is now in the position of making arrangements for me to give a public presentation. I could feel her ill-at-ease on the telephone with me. I suspect she was wondering, "Should I call him Scott? Professor Nokes? Dr. Nokes? Will he be offended if we have low turn-out?"
I guess this is a small price to pay. It could be worse -- everyone could disrespect me. Still, just once in a while, I'd like to meet someone new, and when they ask, "What do you do?" and I reply "I'm an English professor," I'd like them to respond, "Oh, yes? I'm in insurance, myself" rather than "Er, I guess I'd better watch my grammar" before slipping away.