So I’ve cooked up a proposal that has an outside chance of rescuing our office and saving my job. The idea is that my sidekick and I will go on nine-month contracts, which would save the university a bundle of money, and that we would have only one research assistant, who would be hired 10 hours instead of the more usual 20 hours a week, cutting the tuition reimbursement (the real cost of running our operation) by 50 percent.
I haven’t submitted this to Her Deanship yet. At the moment, I’m wondering whether I want to.
Why? I’m afraid the deans will like it. They might actually buy it. And that would mean I’d have to keep trudging to work at the Great Desert University for the next three to seven years.
Not that such a fate would be worse than death. No doubt it would be better to hang on to a regular income, complete with health insurance and accruing sick leave (for which I get paid at retirement), instead of cobbling together a living with Social Security, investment drawdowns, and part-time teaching gigs. On a nine-month salary, too, if I quietly taught freshman comp at the community college my total earnings would be significantly more than I’m making now.
But I’m beginning to feel pretty confident that I can survive quite nicely in Bumhood. Why on earth would I want to keep working at a place that houses my office in a condemned building that still (months later!) stinks of the solvent used in the most recent asbestos abatement effort? Whose air conditioning has not been turned on despite 97-degree heat? Where we have no drinkable water (vile stuff comes out of the taps) and no place to get it but the public bathroom? Where parking costs almost $900, and where raises (few and far between) are immediately taken away through various creative increases in “benefits” and ancillary gouges?
On the other hand, it’s a nice sinecure: I come and go when I please, and I sure don’t work very hard. But…without those RAs, my sidekick and I most certainly would be reduced to actually working. Heaven forfend.
It would be kind of irresponsible not to at least try to save our operation. It’s the only such office anywhere in the world, as far as we know. No other university has anything like it. And getting it established took years of politicking and lobbying on the part of faculty and some powerful deans and chairs. If there’s even a chance of rescuing it from the trashbin, I suppose it really would be lâche of me not to try.
On the one hand, I think the heck with them. On the other: Michael Crow is not the only person who works for the Great Desert University…neither is