Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chicago Charlie Can't Wait To Get Home, and He Leaves Perez (And the MLA) A Sweet Goodbye.

What the fuck do you want from us? Somersaults? Details of our sex life? With everything... our hopes, our dreams, our ambitions, our passions, twenty or thirty years of investment, health insurance, a basic living wage, economic stability, our childrens' summer camp money and braces, our elderly parents' hospice bill, all riding on the line, what the fuck do you want from us? You want us to show some personality? You sift 500 CVs and cover letters looking for the name of our school and our publications. You call us in for an interview. You have fifteen or twenty of us, and we all put on our suit and our power-tie or and our lucky underwear (Spiderman pattern) and hope for the best.

I was interviewed today, and you know what, YOU were pretty boring too! You had no fucking personality either. You want personality and excitement, go to the fucking circus or I didn't know you were hiring me for my sparkling wit and charm; stupid me, I thought it was because I was "prepared, bright and cheery." What personality do you want from me in thirty or forty minutes (half of which you spent talking). I don't think I did any bootlicking. I smiled, I shook hands and made eye contact; I answered honestly, clearly and coherently. I didn't lie. Did you want me to tell the joke about the horse who walks into the bar? Or the one about Napoleon and the camel (punchline: We usually ride the camel to Cairo and get a hooker).

If you wanted to get to know me, to find out a bit about my personality, then you should fly to the candidates' homes for a dinner which they cook during which they are required to show you childhood photos and home movies. You want to see my personality? Come skiing with me. Go camping with me for the weekend. Spoon me at night. Oh, wait, that's why I have a wife. I forgot that this was a job interview for a minute.

Let me tell you what I hate about full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty (besides everything). You are all so smug and self-righteous. What always amazes me is that you yourselves were here once too, and now you have forgotten. How's the view from behind the protective glass? You sit there, with your health insurance and you full time job, your steady pay check and your housing subsidy. You sit there making life-altering decisions for hundreds of people, and you have the fucking gall to sit there and call them boring?

I'm sorry if my nondescript name, my desire for a paycheck and my general readiness for questions relating to my job "have made MLA prep a bit more dull this year." Because obviously, it's about you, and how much fun you have. Not about the hundreds of people who, against all odds, are looking to make a living in the field they love and have invested their whole lives in. W.C. Fields' tombstone says "Better here than Philadelphia." I'm beginning to see why.