A person is the only member of their species in a group, so a lot of their behaviour is passed off as "must be a (species) thing."
Then they meet up with the others and it turns out no, none of them do that, it's a Dave thing. -- Gallifreya
In the interests of diplomacy, crews from various species' crew have been shared out into other species' vessels. I think the Galactic Alliance is trying to engender familiarity with others as a means of cutting down on accidental misunderstandings that trip and fall into wars.
Yeah, it all sounds peachy and keen, the Galactic Alliance, but it's held together with spit and willpower, and they're running out of spit.
And, I think, in the interests of not driving my superiors completely gonzo, they shipped me off to a bunch of aliens called the Q'voth.
They're spiders. Well. Sort of spiders. Imagine for a second that actual spiders evolved lungs and more of a brain than you need to spin webs and eat flies and make more spiders. And with a few less legs. That's your Q'voth.
The conversation went something like this:
OCaptainMyCaptain: Hey Dave, you like bugs of all kinds, right?
Me: Uh, sure, I guess.
OCaptainMyCaptain: Greeeeaaat... I have one heck of an assignment for you!
And the next thing I knew, I was packing my essentials and learning a smattering of Q'voth. I can understand more than I can say. That's natural. I don't have the mouth parts for their complete language.
But you have to pick up the important stuff. Like what panic sounds and looks like. And the important words like, "evacuate", "run", "fire" and lots of other things used in an emergency.
People all over the Alliance panic in their home tongue. It's natural.
The Q'voth are nice enough folks, really. Arachnaphobes wouldn't like the look of them, but as I said, I'm okay with bugs. They're near-sighted, so everything is finely detailed and it took them a couple of Standard Weeks to get used to the idea that I could see much further than them.
It took me that long to get used to the webs.
Q'voth don't like big, empty spaces, so they spin guide-lines between point A and point B. I kept tripping over, breaking, or otherwise messing them up.
Let's just say that we had to work really hard on understanding each other.
As for me... I didn't really have to worry too hard about pretending to be normal, among the Q'voth. I could do my little rituals and nobody said anything. As long as the work got done, they were cool.
So cool that my need for them waned more than a little.
Let me tell you, it was such an immense relief to be accepted as I am. Usually, my little quirks kind of drive people to distraction. I hum under my breath. I make faces when I'm writing reports. And some days, I have to check things a set number of times before I can continue. Threes are pretty usual. Sevens on bad days, and on the really horrible days, I can get stuck in a check loop.
That hasn't happened with the Q'voth. They put it down to diligence or something. The faint praise my human superiors put on my report was that I always had perfectly functioning survival gear.
The Q'voth were really glad of my ability to always know about the emergency gear. And they relied on my visual acuity more than once.
I heard, once, that someone got shipped out to a bunch of bats and moles. That had to be fun.
Anyway. The crap hit the fan when my Q'voth shipmates met up with another human ship. They were so used to my way of being okay that it must have been a bit of a shock when they realised.
My way is not the default human way.
I... might... have freaked out and gone hiding in the service tunnels. I do remember a lot of crying.
But it's all good, now. The Q'voth are still amazingly cool with every weird little thing I do. The only difference now is that they ask...
"Is this a Dave thing or a Human thing?"
They're amazing bugs. You should get over your insectophobia and visit.