Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ruby from Richmond On Locked Doors.

Dear University,

Please stop locking my classroom. I mean it. I assure you that I teach in there, and I teach in there the same time every day, several days a week, and in fact on the same days every week. I realize you believe that I am Gumby and can pass through the locked door at my leisure, but alas, I am not Gumby.

When the door is locked, and I call the number I've been instructed to call in such situations, please actually answer the phone. If you cannot, please at least change the ironic voicemail that asks me to call back between certain hours--when the current time is between those hours. When you fail me, I end up calling Campus Security instead, and trust me, in this city, they have more important things to deal with.

I'm a relatively punctual person, but when I'm on the Interstate jammed in traffic, I know I won't arrive at class until the moment it's scheduled to begin, and I won't have time to deal with a locked door. I know that my students will see the locked door, and while some of them will sit in the hallway, others will wander off and later tell me that "the door didn't work" and that this should count as an excused absence. I know that when I do arrive, the students sitting in the hallway will invariably line up behind me like baby chicks as I approach the door, as though I have a key and will instantly let them in. I have no key. I am not allowed to have a key. I am an adjunct.

They will then watch, baffled, as I take out my cell phone and start angrily calling numbers to try to get the room unlocked. I lose authority in their eyes. Several weeks into the semester, with this happening at least weekly, they may stop lining up, or they may stop showing up. And the same annoying kid always tries to help in the most unhelpful ways: "Can I try picking the lock? Can we try the key to my dorm room? It looks the same! Can we have class outside? Can we cancel class? Why don't they give you a key? Why do they always lock this room? My friend drives a campus shuttle. Maybe he can help!"

Oh! Would that I were Gumby!