I was in an altered mental state today and kept wandering aimlessly around the hotel’s lobby. In the process of wandering I lost my purse. The purse contained both money and my bank card so I wasn’t happy about losing it.
But when I asked at the reception, it turned out that somebody had picked it up and returned it with all the money and the card intact. I have a suspicion that this might be due to the purse having a huge cross embroidered on one side and Virgin Mary on the other side.
Living in a religious country has its uses.
I have become a casualty in the never-ceasing hostilities between part-time and full-time teaching faculty members. This is quite paradoxical because there is absolutely no reason for this animosity to exist at our university. We don’t have any exploited adjuncts or Visiting Professors. This isn’t one of those horrible situations were a mass of people with PhDs are working in bad conditions and with no benefits so that a few people with the same qualifications can enjoy the perks of stable employment, leisure, and healthcare plans.
We have part-time lecturers (without PhD degrees) but they are unionized. The union is strong and works hard to protect their rights. For instance, now that I have to come back to work unexpectedly, nobody has to lose their contract and face loss of income because of that. The university prefers to keep paying the instructors who will not have to teach to breaching their contracts.
This is why I have no idea what causes this hatred towards full-time teaching faculty. And I cannot explain this need to call a colleague who recently had to bury her child and harrass her aggressively over the phone for disrupting the normal cause of events with her untimely drama.
If my return to work caused people to lose the income they were counting on, I would be able to understand the frustration this might cause. It is still not OK to attack people in my situation and I would never do that no matter what. Still, I can understand the stress of facing loss of income. What I cannot understand is the completely spurious stress of having to administer some stupid quiz in a way you didn’t anticipate.
You might think I’m imagining generalized hostilities on the basis of a single unpleasant situation. This is not an isolated case, however. Just last month we had a similar thing happen to another colleague. This colleague was a part-time instructor at the department. She has this sunny personality that makes it impossible not to like her. She is also the most helpful, responsible and hard-working person anybody could imagine. But right after she got her PhD and accepted a tenure-track position at the department, the very same part-time instructors (led by “Jennifer” from my previous post) began to hound her in a very angry and nasty way.
And this is just what happened this semester. I never happened to be on the receiving end of this animosity because I keep to myself and never dispute the collective decisions pertaining to the teaching of lower-level courses. This is the very first time I have had to share responsibilities with part-time instructors, and this is the result.
I’ve spent the whole day shaking and crying, feeling completely shell-shocked. If there is one thing nobody should ever do to a person in my situation is try to make her feel guilty. I already feel overwhelming and irrational guilt, and adding to that is simply cruel. This is why I believe that only a profound feeling of hatred could make one direct a “How could you do this to me?” diatribe to somebody who has experienced this kind of a loss.
The phone rings.
“Clarissa? Is that you?”
“Yes, hello Jennifer.”
“Clarissa, I’m calling about the course in which I’m substituting you while you are on leave. We were just told that our contracts will not be rescinded after you return to work. We will keep getting paid for teaching these courses after you resume your duties.”
“Well, that’s good to know. I’m glad that you will continue to get paid.”
“Still, this is all very inconvenient! We were not told immediately that we will keep getting paid! It took the HR a while to tell us!”
“It’s good to hear that everything worked out, though .”
“Yes, but I don’t know what to do about all this disruption! The original plan was for me to continue teaching until the end of the semester, and now you are coming back!”
“I also hoped to be on maternity leave but you know what happened, right?”
“Yes, but what am I supposed to do now? This is very inconvenient to me and to the students.”
“Look, I’m sure the students will be fine.”
“I don’t know, there is this quiz they have to write the week when you come back, and I have no idea what to tell them now and how to go about this. I was planning to teach this course and now you are coming back and I don’t know what to do! I can’t believe I have to deal with all this!!!”
” I’m sure we will find a way to administer the quiz.”
“I cannot believe how calm you are about all this. I’m really stressed out about this course. This just never happened to me before!”