Re-posting: Only the lonely
Originally posted February 15, 2005.
I came in on Sunday to grade some papers and was surprised to see half a dozen other professors roaming the halls, furtively ducking in and out of their offices. Sometimes I think we retreat to campus on weekends to escape our families and to sit in that little bit of space we can call our own. It's quiet as a tomb. We can read or write or just stare at our computer screens without someone bugging us.
One prof just sits in his office and reads the Sunday New York Times. Another comes in on weekends and eats cheeseburgers in his office while he watches DVDs of silent films on his computer.
We profs are a strange bunch -- loners who need a community of other loners. Funny that on Sunday none of us talked to each other. We all knew we were around (the offices are bunched together like a rabbit warren), but we all knew better than to interrupt. We are polite ghosts in baggy jeans and sweatshirts. We keep our doors shut and the windowblinds down.
I'm skipping today's faculty meeting. Just not in the mood for the bureaucratic blah-blah. Instead I'm meeting some students at a coffeeshop near campus. They wanted some help on their next assignment and I am happy to do off-hours writing coaching. It's the value-added aspect of my job. We can relax and get to know each other away from the fluorescent glare and plastic desks. They drink a lot of nonfat soy lattes and start to let their guard down. I give them a "free read" on papers. I'll look at rough drafts and point them in better directions, find the glaring errors. It's really for me. The final drafts are then so much nicer to read.
Another week till the first paycheck of the year for me. Like many schools, this one pays only once a month, last day of the month. No paycheck for adjuncts at all in January, although the semester starts the second week. These last few days of the month are a stretch pennywise. So I'll just order the cheap iced tea.
Midterm approacheth and I haven't written my exams. In the writing class, I have them play "Midterm Jeopardy" in teams, buzzing in with answers to questions I click up on Power Point. Winning team gets 10 points on their next assignment. The competition gets killer loud, but it's the most fun we have all year. And it's a lot more stimulating than scribbling answers in blue books or bubbling in "E: all of the above" on a scantron sheet.
"Thank you for your class," one girl told me yesterday. "I dread all my other classes. If it weren't for this one, I'd hate college."
No, thank you.