This is the number 1 comment I get when I'm out drilling.
EcoGeoFemme's post today reminded me of the joys of interacting with the public. Not family members, not grad students, but the guy wondering what this giant rig is doing next to his house.
When I was in consulting, I had a pretty erratic schedule and so I never volunteered to do science-y outreach-y stuff like some of my coworkers. But I was happy to explain stuff to anyone who was interested. Here's what I said:
1. Step away from the rig, please; it's dangerous. (If he gets hit on the head with that precariously balanced rig hammer, I'm toast)
2. I'm working for (client) and these folks with me are our subcontractors. (yes, I am in charge and if you bug the drillers, they'll just refer you to me)
3. We're taking soil samples/installing a well to collect groundwater samples.
At this point, the person I was talking to either expressed surprise that there's water under the ground, accused the client of being an evil corporation/wasting taxpayer dollars, or fretted about the noise/mess.
I can recall only two times where people wanted to actually hear more, but I was happy to regale them with as much technical info as they wanted (and that I could give out without getting into trouble). One of those times, I was talking to another geologist (yay!) in a somewhat related field and the other time, it took about 10 minutes of conversation to realize the guy was actually just hitting on me. But he sounded so interested in the science!
Regardless of how interested folks are in the actual work I'm doing, I always like to talk to them about it. I'm always hoping that by being a visibly in-charge and knowledgeable female, I'm providing a public example of a Female Scientist.