Today a student wanted to work in my lab, but when he started switching on the computers and the other fancy boxes, the general fuse tripped and all boxes and computers went back to silence.
From my point of view there were two possibilities for him to handle this situation:
a) walking over to the general lab manager, who lives just across the corridor and telling him about the situation.
b) in case the general lab manager is not in his office: calling me on the phone and telling me about the situation, because I'm the not-so-general lab manager and he has my mobile number.
For some reason he opted for the not so obvious version
c) walking away, without telling anybody
Back at his desk he wrote an email to me and went off to attend a class.
When I found out about this whole situation, it was already to late to call the electricians in right away... *sigh*
Its clear, that he did not want to sneak out of the situation unseen, otherwise he wouldn't have written this email, but for some reason the direct approach - talking to a person in charge directly - was too difficult, even though the general lab manager is the kindest person you can imagine and I usually don't get mad at people as well - esp. not if they are obviously embarrassed about what happened AND its not their fault.
I'm not sure what would be a good strategy to encourage shy students, how much I have to take their cultural background into account (both the shy-student-encouters were with Chinese students) and at which point I should stop being sensitive and start saying "Don't make such a fuss, student". I guess thats a continuous learning process on both sides...