Friday, May 8, 2015

I just got sympathied at, and I'm pissed.

I hate meeting with students.

You have to be on campus, and you have to have your door open. Then they don't show for the appointment and your boss does. It's hard to hide.

My dean wanted to know how my search was doing and if I had landed anything yet. Nope. Interviews but no second interviews. He said some kind, sympathetic things and asked if I was going to move back to where my family was or stick around --- STICK AROUND AND DO WHAT, MOTHERFUCKER?!?! YOU JUST DAMN FIRED ME! I HAVE NO JOB AND NOTHING TO KEEP ME HERE! ---- but since my first reaction to this kind of confrontation is to shut down and try not to cry, all I said was that I was planning on moving back to my family town and, I dunno, try and reinvent myself for a new career. Go see a job counselor or something.
I don't know that you have to completely change careers, says my boss. There are a lot of colleges over where your family lives and you can probably work out a schedule for putting work together at various schools, blah blah blah other sympathetic things here that I forget now.

Oh, says I, but that, that's really tough, and adjuncting doesn't really pay enough to live on; it's very insecure. I'd like to somehow have income security, and rents, you know, they're really high...

And then he says more sympathetic stuff about updating my letter and anything he can do to help and a few more suggestions about adjuncting and luckily he leaves and gives me a window to have a nice little cry and then recover so I don't look like I've been crying and then meet with all my students for their appointments.

But really?

I mean, now that I've had time to think about it, I am furious! Yes, I do the anger equivalent of "Oh yeah? Yeah!" and then come up with a snappy comeback days later all the time. This may be part of the struggle I have with students as I rarely show anger or blow up at them at the moment they are angering me, because it takes me a while to figure out that I am angry and then I obsessively replay the conversation in my head with angrier and angrier comments back to them and then the next time students push my boundaries, thinking I never get annoyed by anything, then boom!

Because really, did you just tell me I was good enough to be an adjunct but not to work for you full time? That I am a great teacher and really really good at what I do but I don't deserve to be paid a salary for it? That I shouldn't bother with a career change to something that will value me and pay me appropriately? DID YOU REALLY JUST TELL ME THAT?!?!?!

Inner Me is growing spikes out in all directions, extending fangs and mottling with all sorts of WARNING! DANGER WILL ROBINSON! colors. Inner Me is puffed up like a cobra, unhinging my jaw to swallow you whole after giving you a righteous beatdown with an enormous spiny tail. RRRRRRRR!

Unfortunately Outer Me just looks like a sad girl.


Dame Eleanor Hull said...


You're having an appropriate response to inappropriately being told that you're good enough to adjunct but not good enough to teach where you are. FTN. Dude may mean well (which for one of my friends is the ultimate bless-your-heart sort of damnation), but really, just, no. Probably dude has no clue at all what things are like in your family's neck of the woods.

I'm sorry. I really wish I had a job or at least decent advice to offer you, but I got nothing except sympathy.

Contingent Cassandra said...

I'm with DEH: Inner Me has a point -- maybe not one you can make directly to someone whom you may still need as a reference, but a damned good point nonetheless. Several of them, in fact, starting with the fact that one primary goal of a job is to put a roof over one's head and food in one's mouth, and that any activity that doesn't achieve that, however well it may fit with one's interests and talents, is probably a hobby -- something you do if you have time after you've done your paying job. This seems to be a distinction that is lost on many (though not all) of the more secure inhabitants of academia these days. It would be sad if you didn't teach, because you're obviously a good teacher, but it would be even sadder if your love of teaching became the means for others to exploit you.

undine said...

All of the above are absolutely right, especially CC: if it doesn't pay enough to live, it is a hobby and why would the Dean suggest such a thing? Also, did he really think the possibility of adjuncting was *a new idea that you had never thought about*? How was this supposed to help?

Historiann said...

This stinks. First he fires you, then you have to make **him** feel better for firing you by tolerating his not-very-helpful career advice.

What he's doing is very human. I'm sure he sees it as offering you support and advice, but it's completely inconsiderate.

I'm very sorry.

Susan said...

Agreed with all of the above. Oddly, people who fire you don't want to face the consequences of their actions. When I was denied tenure, someone I team-taught with and called himself a friend wrote a devastating letter against my tenure. But the look on his face when I told him I would probably leave the profession was horrified. Surely someone would want to hire someone who wasn't a good enough teacher for the students at that SLAC!

(And I'm always terrible at the good comeback. Actually telling my former colleague that I was going to leave the profession was probably the only time I've had a good comeback.)

Lenelein said...

I feel you! My boss also can't offer me another contract but after an initial shock I realised that this is good for me. We have some ugly tendencies which started when I was in her hand as I was doing a PhD here. And now she expects me to do everything for her. The faster, the better. I think I didn't study hard and get my degree plus a grant for doing secreteries work (which is not bad, it's just not what I'm paid to do)... Now I'm leaving for good, which she constantly forgets. Today she asked me whether she should get another Master's student which will start when i'm already gone. Why should I care?!