Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Take This Job And...

let someone else deal with it.

As some of you know, I had an unexpected interview in June. I chose not to take the job because...well, you can read the blog before this one to find out.

I wrote that I realized that working at Lincoln was like being in an abusive relationship. Well, today I finally got my last suitcase out of the house. The process was hilarious.

Last week I went in to gather all my things and found that my nameplate was off my office door already. So were my skeletons. When I went upstairs to my old office to get some final things, I found that someone had already thrown all of my stuff into boxes and set them in the hallway. I opened the door, expecting that someone had already moved in, but the room was empty; my personal area rug was missing.  "Fuck," I said.

I put all the things in my car and was getting ready to go the key return building when I learned that I had to complete a "sign out" sheet first. The secretary told me I had to collect signatures and turn it in before I could leave. So, I went to HR and asked for a sheet. That person told me I couldn't get a sheet until the secretary or department sent her another form. Of course, that would take a day to process, and she'd be on vacation the rest of the week, so I should just come back next week.

That's what I did today.

I went to HR and asked about my sheet. It wasn't there. I sat for 15 minutes waiting for a sheet to appear. From where, I have no idea. Once I had the sheet, I counted...12 signatures in 12 offices in 7 different buildings.  I started my stopwatch.

I was in Young Hall, so I started there. First, Student Accounts. Why? I don't know. I found the office and was mistaken for a student.

No. I'm quitting.   I held out my paper.

The person working looked so sad. "What did you teach?"


"How long!?"

Six years. 

"Oh, I'm so sorry you're leaving."

I finally made it to the right person. She sat me in a line of students...since it was student accounts. I waited about 10 minutes. She pulled me into her office and asked if I was there about financial help.

No. I'm quitting. And I handed her my paper.

She recognized my named. "Oh, no! My son's coming here next year and he needs you. I've heard so many good things about you."

I'm sorry. I tried. 

Without looking up any information, she signed my paper.

I went upstairs to Accounts Payable. "I just signed another one of these a few minutes ago," she said. Without looking up any information, she signed my paper.

I ran around the building not realizing there was a basement and finally found the Records Office. Someone signed my paper.

From there I went to Schweich Hall. The assistant recognized me. "I heard you were leaving."


"On to bigger and better things, then?"

Mostly just away from here. 


My next destination was the Purchasing Department. I had no idea where it was, so thought I could maybe walk there. Then I realized it's about a half mile away. I was already sweating, so I headed back to my office to get my department head's signature.

He was busy.

So, I hopped in my car to drive to the Purchasing Department. "Do you even have a Lincoln purchasing card?" he said.


He signed my paper.

I drove further and found the Police Department headquarters. In case you're wondering, it's a house. Just and old house. "Do you have Sonitrol?"


He signed my paper.

I thought I'd just drive on over to the Physical Plant to return all my keys. I had seven. But there was a road out, so I drove longer than I meant to. On the way I found a building labeled "Small Animal Research."  I had no idea.

I'd been to the physical plant before and had their keys, so the guy looked up my name and checked off all the keys I'd returned. By this time, I had some severe crotch sweat and I was thirsty.

I drove back to a parking spot and went back up to my office. My boss signed my paper. We shook hands.

I had to walk back to Young Hall to the Casheir's Office for one last signature and to turn in the paper.

I hit the stop watch. Two hours.

Now, I know that's not too exciting to read about, but I thought it would be a nice introduction to the part you really want to know...why I did it.  Well.

Like the Signature Scavenger Hunt, I found LU to be, well, strange. Most of you have asked or assumed that I'm quitting because of my students. That is the opposite of the truth. Yes, I post their obnoxiousness on facebook, but I've also posted the nice things. The only reason I worked there so long was the students.

I quit because I've worked my ass off for 6 years. I've given all of myself to the place. And they've given me nothing in return. It wasn't just a bad paycheck, but no one cared that I existed. For two years I worked on redesigning the Basic English sequence (a project I'd received 5 days before a semester began because the other professor threw her hands in the air and left) and had done a good job. My work was recognized by outside organizations. I went to conferences. Gave presentations. Helped others redesign their own courses.

I was told last fall that there would no longer be basic English courses. It was the president's decision. But. It's like I didn't even exist. (Just last week when I went in, I threw away 60 pounds of papers, of the research I'd done for that project.) Suddenly, all the work I'd done didn't matter anymore. Those classes wouldn't exist anymore.

I served on hiring committees. Department committees. I did the work of a tenured professor without being one. And I did it happily at the beginning. I wanted to prove myself. Earn my place. I know how those things work; I've played team sports. Rookies wash and carry equipment until they're deemed worthy. I schlepped more than my fair share in the department.

Then came a job opening in the department for a tenure track Composition Coordinator. I applied. I didn't get it. The person they offered it to turned it down. I could see at least another year of doing that job...the job I'd already been doing...for nothing. Again.

But still I was going to hang in there. Because I bought into all that "It'll make your CV look great" stuff that we all hear.

Then came that amazing job offer from the archaeology lab. Yes. The pay was insane (for me).  But more than that was how the boss made me feel. She made me feel more appreciated and worthy than LU had, well, ever.

Of course there are a million other secret details I can't tell you. And my point here is not to hate on LU but to tell you how sad the whole system is. How I was supposed to be satisfied that I had a job at all. How not having a PhD makes me unworthy. Like I said in the last blog, it was like someone telling me no one else could love me. That I was unlovable. That I should be happy that anyone wanted to be with me at all. No raises. No promotions. You should be happy you have a job, Christina.

You wonder what I'm going to do now. Won't it look bad on my CV to have a gap in my teaching? I don't know. I don't care. My students appreciated me more than the university, but it wasn't enough to sustain me.

What will I do now? Well, I've got some things going. I'm also going to teach a few classes at CMU here in Columbia. I'll be an adjunct again. Adjuncting isn't bad when you have something else going.

When I went to thank the VP today for all of her faith in me and support, she pulled up a new job on the LU website. It's a "Learning Specialist" (kind of like a tutor). The pay is more than what I was making as an instructor. "Please consider, " she said.

I ran into two former students today. One was working in the HR office. The other somewhere in the student accounts places. I went to her desk, told her the news. She looked teary eyed and came around to hug me.

"You're a perfect fit for these students, Christina. You're one of the best professors here."

I know. I was. 

So. There you have it. Higher Education.

And I will laugh in the faces of those who doubt me...


  1. With a PhD, we're still nothing. So yes, I'm glad you've managed the breakup.

  2. I wish I could sift through your 60 pounds of research, because it might help some people I know regardless of whether the "uppers" recognized it as important or not. Your work is still important.