SDXB, the master guru of Bumhood, says that when one has no visible means of support “money happens.” As one of those obsessives who craves to know enough is in the bank to cover a month’s expenses before the month begins, I’ve always felt skeptical about that. But as a practical matter, the man is right: like manna, money droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. It happens.
Couple days ago, the phone rings and there’s the chair of the Phoenix College chairperson. Will I substitute-teach for a faculty member who’s on her way out of town for a week?
Subs for college classes?
Unheard of at the Great Desert University. No such thing as substitute teachers there. If you get called for jury duty, have a family emergency, or go to a conference, you have three choices: persuade a friend to show up and babysit your classes; post assignments online to keep the students busy for an hour or two each day and call it “distance learning”; or quietly cancel class.
Well, of course, I assumed that was what she had in mind: I’d stand in for this lady, who had arranged a cruise up Alaska’s Inland Passage long before she knew she’d get a teaching contract, and I’d do it as a lagniappe. What goes around comes around: you help someone out and one day they help you. And especially you help out chairs of department, by way of bowing and scraping.
So I couldn’t believe it when they told me they’d pay for this activity. Yes. With actual money. Not much: fifteen bucks an hour (heh…unless I misunderstood and she said “fifty”…not likely). All told it comes to $135: half a month’s groceries! In fact, the hourly rate for a regular adjunct is just about $50; in that case this represents a surprise $450.
Every little bit helps.
By the end of this semester, the net on the two courses I’m teaching will more than equal the gross pay for one course. Since I’m stashing every penny in savings, this means that the net on what I earn today will cover me next year if I can’t get three classes a semester.
It also means that if I don’t want to teach three-and-three, I could in theory choose to take three sections in one semester and two in the other, or teach three in spring and two in summer and then take the entire fall semester off!
Or, if they offered me three-and-three and I chose to accept them all, whatever little bits and pieces of cash come in this fall can be folded into next year’s budget, guaranteeing that I continue to live in the style to which I have every intention of remaining accustomed.
Money happens, and it underwrites retirement.