Dr Gavin J D Smith. Photo by Lannon Harley.

Dr Gavin J D Smith. Photo by Lannon Harley.

A day in the life: Gavin Smith

This year has been frenetic for Deputy Head of the ANU School of Sociology Dr Gavin J D Smith. Here he reflects on a typical day in the life of a snake-catching sociologist.

Wake to the sound of a two-year-old yelling out for a playmate.

Make breakfast and flat white. Check emails, Twitter and Facebook updates before complaining about ‘email glut’. Take my wife's overdone porridge off stove and we all sit down to eat breakfast.

Load bike onto rack and ensure I have all requisite academic and snake-catching equipment. Switch on ABC Radio National for morning news and drive to Acton to find no car parking spaces left.

Head into office on bike. Begin responding to emails and peruse notes for upcoming lecture on the surveillance society. Start reviewing article I promised journal I would submit two weeks prior.

Respond to email from a radio station asking for an interview on the social meanings of self-tracking. Offer a time after my lecture. Continue refining lecture and then print out lecture prompts. Go to cafe and top up caffeine levels and cycle to the other end of campus to give lecture.

Deliver lecture on ‘Exposing bodies: surveillance and embodiment’. Inspire students with 'liveliness' and 'significance' of the key issues. Take some great questions and leave on a high.

Collect lunch from the Pop-up Village. Return to my room to prepare for upcoming radio interview. Respond to a member of the public asking for information on snakes. Put lecture notes on Wattle page.

Meet with Head of the School of Sociology, Associate Professor Helen Keane, for weekly bulletin. Return to office and meet with students in my capacity as undergraduate convener for Sociology and course convener of SOCY2157 Surveillance and Society.

Cycle to ANU Media Office for 35-minute interview with Radio New Zealand. Interview goes well and I leave feeling good about contributing a much-needed sociological perspective to public debates about data politics.

Return to office and respond to yet more emails. Do an hour's power writing for new book with Sage (2019), Key Concepts in Surveillance Studies.

Snake call – eastern brown snake [Pseudonaja textilis] spotted at local hospice! I run a small, fully licensed business called ACT Snake Removals. Switch out of sociologist identity (air mode) and into snake-catcher persona (earth mode). Check I have appropriate clothing on and emergency first aid kit. Grab catch bag and jigger, ensuring I have clips to secure bag. Enter premises, search for snake and locate it in the courtyard before gently lifting the world's second most venomous land creature into the bag.

Release snake in appropriate nature reserve and derive enormous sense of wellbeing from seeing it safely slither out of harm’s way. Take pictures and write down some field notes.

Home to unwind and hang with family. Enjoy dinner together before commencing the bath, story and bedtime rituals. Show video of snake release to my wife and daughter, the latter correctly identifying it as an eastern brown snake.

Post images on Facebook of rescue and respond to comments from public. Work on ARC Discovery Grant. More emails.  

Bed, meditation (not medication!) and recovery sleep.