How do you tell someone they are cliquey and mean?

A few months ago I went to visit an archaeological dig. I won a day’s digging, courtesy of DigVentures, an exciting new company that uses crowd sourcing to fund digs. This is not actually that new an idea. Most people who are not academics have to pay for the right to dig, but because it is fun and educational and we have a passion for archaeology, that’s fine. But this is a new company and so I was very enthusiastic to see how they bring archaeology and ordinary people together.

But a series of events during the day convinced me that I was not welcome.  You see, there are two types of digger: day diggers, and project diggers. Day diggers is self-explanatory. They come for the day, they help, they contribute, they leave. Project diggers are there for days or weeks at a time. They live in tents. They form into a community.  And it appears, they tend to be quite cliquey.  They have their mates and they see no need to talk to people who won’t be there in the morning.

I was a day digger. And the long-term diggers completely ignored us.

We had an introductory session where those in charge didn’t ask our names or introduce us to one another. We were then handed our t-shirts and herded out the door whilst two people were still in the toilets. So they got no t-shirts and came back to find that everyone was gone for their guided tour. Now, how are you supposed to find your group when you haven’t been shown around yet?!

We were separated into groups and went off to do our digging. Very nice. At lunch, it was first come first served, and if you were working on something, the food would be gone when you arrived. Some people even took seconds before others had even arrived. It was a farce. And quite unkind. Luckily, I made it JUST in time. Some of the others weren’t so lucky.

In the evening, we were invited to a party, but as we barely knew each other, conversation wasn’t easy. All the project bunch, who lived there, they all knew each other and had a lovely time. And the rest of us just sat and watched.

When I tried to leave, they had locked the car park.

I have tried since to imagine ways in which I could have been made to feel LESS welcome, but it’s a struggle. Let me know if you can think of any.

DigVentures still send me adverts inviting me to pay good money to come and take part in their digs and, presumably, be resolutely ignored all day again, but for some reason, it doesn’t appeal. I can’t think why.

My problem is, I cannot fathom a way of telling them how unkind they appeared and how they made us feel. I have no idea if the other day diggers felt the same, but I can’t imagine it’s good for repeat business if they did. How do I tell them?

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