Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Half of Everything

When I first graduated from college I got a job at the University. I was officially an "Academic Secretary I" for the department of Social Sciences. I had gotten a job in the department the summer before I graduated as a student assistant (back then I was probably making a whopping $3.50 – it's mind-boggling that I was able to pay for college, clothes, food, car, car insurance, gas, etc. on that, but I did) and halfway through my final year the dipshit of a secretary left to take a job in the Dean's office (more money, but she didn't last long). Although my premier goal in life up to this point had been to get the bloody hell out of Michigan (and away from winter) as soon as possible, I had met a boy and decided to stay. *sigh* Stupid stupid stupid move. Except that I had a great time working at Social Sciences and have many friends from there.

Sometime in my first or second year an adjunct history professor came back from a Fulbright year in China. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the inner workings of a University, adjunct means NOT full-time or tenure-track. He simply got paid a set amount (back then it was piddles) for teaching his one class. He, however, had delusions of grandeur and thought he was a full-time faculty member (this became evident much later when he tried to "retire" from the University and get benefits). One day he came to me with a letter to type up that he was going to send to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. I do not remember the contents of the letter, but it was probably sucking up in an effort to make himself appear to be more important than he was. When he gave me the letter, he winked at me, and said "Just think, your initials are going to be at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing." Even at the tender age of 23, I knew he was completely full of it and that his letter was probably going to be put in the circular file within seconds of it being read. The guy was just so impressed with himself and honestly thought that I cared if my initials were seen by people at the U.S. Embassy in China. I think I rolled my eyes and didn't bother putting my initials at the bottom.

The University was full of people who thought they were better than they were. One of our full-time political scientists pretended he worked at the main campus instead of our nice satellite campus. He never introduced himself as Joe Schmoe from U of M-Dearborn, it was always, "This is Professor Schmoe from the University of Michigan political science department. He would conveniently forget the Dearborn part and the fact that we weren't the Political Science Department, but Social Sciences. It was a tad insulting really to the campus and our department.

We had a number of faculty who pretended they didn't know about the 3-day Turnaround Policy and would bring in a twelve page exam that they wanted typed up, dittoed, collated and stapled that same day. My boss had the Do Not Abuse the Office Staff memo saved and ready to send out on a semesterly basis and when I became the boss I would do the same thing. And it was always the same people who would do it. Of course, it never failed to bring in the most conscientious person and always gave us a week to type up his exams and he would apologise ad nauseum. "Oh, don't worry, Marty, it's not you, but we can't single out the person who is at fault. You always give us plenty of time." The goal in this case being to get him out of the office as quickly as possible as his hygiene was not the best. Very very nice person, just wasn't that well acquainted with soap which was very sad.

I had reached the point where I posted my favorite quote on my Inbox: "A Lack of Planning on Your Part Does Not Constitute an Emergency on My Part." It didn't help, but it made me feel better.

We had another faculty member who was most impressed with her title and her Ph.D. She always always always signed her name as Dr. Mary S. Doe, PH.D. It drove me insane to have to type it up that way, although I would fix the Ph.D. part. It's either one or the other, Dr. Doe or Mary S. Doe, Ph.D., otherwise you're being a tad redundant and full of yourself.

I'm sure some people think that all university professors are worthless or full of themselves, but I actually had very few that made me crazy. Most of them were great and I love them to this day. Our Holocaust historian is one of my absolutely favorite people ever. Our medieval historian is the most fabulous woman in the history of the world. She's one of those people that if I ever heard someone say they didn't like her, I would immediately write that person off as being completely unworthy of knowing. A group of my friends have a knitting club with her and when we tell someone from college that we're hanging out with her they get all jealous and want to go. Friday a group of us are getting together for movie night. No clue what we're going to watch, but we'll eat, hang, laugh a lot, bitch about the state of campus while I pretend I wish I were there (if things were the same, except for the salary, I'd go back in a heartbeat, actually) to deal with the crap that is inevitable. Things are so different there that the Chair of the Department is someone who was an adjunct when I was there!!! He's now an associate professor! I need to find a job where everybody is older than me, so I can feel young again! I went to the zoo on Monday with two co-workers, my niece, her boyfriend, my nephew and a friend of his. The co-workers are closer in age to my niece and nephew than to me!!! ARGH!!!

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about my last two weeks. I've been a busy busy busy woman!


At Wednesday, 19 April, 2006, Blogger Jason said...

Marty was a really nice guy, but that smell....oy! I had some classes with him. I sat in the back...the far back.

At Wednesday, 19 April, 2006, Blogger mr. schprock said...

I really loved this line: "A Lack of Planning on Your Part Does Not Constitute an Emergency on My Part." Excellent!

So, um, where and when does this knitting club meet? Just out of curiosity, that's all…

At Wednesday, 19 April, 2006, Blogger Kathleen said...

Jason - Marty was too nice, he drove us bonkers with his obsequiousness.

Mr. Schprock - The medieval historian's house. You want to join us? Next Saturday night. ;-)

At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger MJW said...

This is really a very good story, Kathleen. I mean that sincerely. I would elaborate upon that thought some more, but I am so very tired right now that I am typing these words through copious amounts of yawning tears.

As for the pretensions of some people with doctorates, I agree with you. As a college student, I had terrible trouble saying, "Dr. Jones," instead of "Mr. or Mrs./Ms./Miss Jones." That title just seemed so "elitist." I was eventually corrected by someone, either a professor or another student (I cannot remember which anymore). It took me a while, but I eventually learned to play the game. In fact, it became second nature. Even after I became good friends with one professor, I could never call him anything other than "Dr. G------." I think he once even invited me to call him by his first name, but I couldn't do it.

At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger Kathleen said...

Welfl - I NEVER EVER called my professors Dr. Whatever, it was always Professor Whatever. When I got the job after graduation it was a little difficult to call my Econ profs by their first names, as I was an Econ major, but I got used to it eventually. I even reached the point where I hug them when I see them. CRAZINESS!!!

At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger MJW said...

Kathleen writes: "I even reached the point where I hug them when I see them. CRAZINESS!!!"

I respond: So, you've abandoned the proletariat, eh? Elitist! ;-)

Next you'll tell me you enjoy the DSO! ;-p

Since your readers don't know me, I should say, "Just kidding, of course!"

At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger trinamick said...

I have no patience for arrogance. One of my boss's buddies used to insist on being called Dr. I refused, and continued calling him by his first name. Now we are friends, and refuses to talk to the secretary. He says, "Dr. ____ for Katrina." Cocky, but funny when it's not me on the other end of the line.

At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Mr. Schprock - The medieval historian's house. You want to join us? Next Saturday night. ;-)"

Sure. You got room for my loom in there?

At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger Kathleen said...

Mr. Schprock - You would make the medieval historian so happy as she has a loom up in her attic. You weavers love to meet fellow weavers!

Welfl - No, goofball! I meant that we were became friends and instead of calling them Professor Twomey, I now hug him and say Hi Mike.

Trina - Pure facetiousness is always appreciated!

At Friday, 21 April, 2006, Blogger Dave said...

The Squeeze used to get adjustments from a rather young chiropractor, and as with other chiropractors in the past, he just called him by his first name, in this case, Tony. Well Tony didn't like that. He told him to address him as "Dr. Tony". What a knob. The Squeeze and I see Greg now.

I've been great friends with this girl since kindergarden. We've always done some pretty crazy things together and have some hilarious memories. She is a professor now, has had books and plays published and teaches all over Canada and the U.S. Other friends of mine can't believe I know (let alone hang out with) her, and are in awe of her accomplishments. "I can't believe you go hang out with her at the cottage!" To them, she's "Dr. _____", to me she's just my old buddy Chris. The first person I got drunk with. The mother of my God-daughter. Every time we're together we laugh until we cry.
I think I'll give her a call tonight.


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