Wednesday, May 12, 2010

And just like that, they're gone

Aah. They're gone. How lovely the unpopulated streets, how quiet the park. No lines at the little deli below my office when I picked up a bagel and coffee this morning. No noise, no cloud of cigarette smoke fouling every walkway.

Don't get me wrong. I may not be Miss Congeniality but my department's students seem to feel I do right by them. Hey, believe it or not, I was even honored, with speeches, flowers, gifts, the whole shebang, at the holiday party a couple years back.

But for university workers, there's no better moment than the morning you realize the campus has emptied out for the summer. Especially if you work at a joint that charges outrageously obscenely high tuition so that the student population is heavily weighted toward the privileged classes. So let me bask in it a bit. Let me say it again, let me gloat. They're gone!

Which has nothing to do with my work load. On that front this is the worst time of the year. There's tons of end-of-semester stuff to do, and graduation details, and for the upcoming year there are course assignments and teacher appointments and payroll paperwork and course cancellations and there's the whole admissions megillah that has to wrap up swiftly now and then the new student orientation and shepherding the newbies through their first registration and on and on. But it's easier, somehow, to tackle the work load when the place has quieted down and emptied out.

It reminds me a little of when I was a city bus driver, many years ago in Michigan. That was a very stressful job because you had to keep to a schedule regardless of traffic, weather, loading and unloading passengers and dealing with all their issues. Time points were everything, so we were all always tense and tight, hunched over those big round steering wheels, trying to get to each stop at the appointed time. There was a little joke we had among us. I imagine it's still a favorite of bus drivers everywhere. If only there were no passengers, we'd say. If only we didn't have to stop constantly and sit there while they got on and off. If not for the passengers we'd have no trouble meeting our time points.

Ba da boom. Pretty much how I feel about students here at the U. If only there were no students with their constant problems, questions, issues, I could get my job done just fine.

Well, now they're gone. Now I can work.

Which also means I may be able to get my mind back to some of the points I've been on the verge of making here on the blog for a while, regarding literature and political struggle. I don't blog on the job--I do it on my lunch hour, or in the evenings--but I hope it's not a fireable offense that my thoughts do wander toward more important things while, say, I'm filling in the little circles on the grade sheets or photocopying the registration reports. So let's see if those ponderings don't lead me back here with a thought or two soon.