Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Envious Wednesday Thirsty. Good God!

I cannot dance like Wednesday.  Or James Brown.   But I don't envy them.  I just enjoy the hell out of watching them.

In the workplace, though, I have envied and been envied.  If there is an active case of envy in my life now, then I am in denial about it.  Or I am just clueless.  In the past, it was never a pretty picture—and I do not wish to experience it ever again, so I remain on the look-out.  Kind of like those sailors on the Titanic who were awake at midnight, supposedly watching for icebergs.

The worst cases for me:

1.  I had a department chairman who envied me for years.  He simply didn't have what I had, and he never would.  Oddly enough, even though he was the chairman, he didn't seem to have any real friends.  It was kind of awful and awkward.  I started out liking and admiring him, but eventually just tried to avoid him.

2.  On the other hand, I once envied a proffie who won a big award for excellence in Hamster Training.  He was about five years younger; otherwise, we were very similar candidates for the award.  Same department, same abilities, same predilections, and so on.  But I was older.  And he was getting the recognition and the significant cash prize.  Although I was never rude to him in any way, it took me years to congratulate him.  I am lucky that he was gracious with me.

Q. What's your worst case of envying or being envied?

A. ___________________________________________________
Be honest, dammit.  For Wednesday's sake.  She is thirsty for your love.


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  2. I am envious of my TT colleagues' salaries, and workloads, and even the fact that they get to do service (yes, I know that last is a bit nuts, but, after over a decade in my present job, and given the experience of serving on committees, etc., and so having a voice, at church, I want an opportunity to talk about, and influence, the larger context/structure in which my work occurs, even if that comes at the price of meetings and more work). I'm sure there is something of a "grass is greener" effect, but it's hard to have people with such disparate (but supposedly similar) jobs working side by side, and I'd definitely take the other side of the fence, service, publishing pressure, and all.

  3. I was envied when I was an Accursed Visiting Assistant Professor. It made the experience even more accursed. I was envied because of my projects on Hubble Space Telescope and the funding that came with them. It bums me out that those bastards got the overhead on my grant, particularly since they did nothing to help me.

    I will confess to some twinges of envy of a colleague who works on the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, since he gets such a light teaching load. These twinges have happily gone away since the university is reneging on promises of support it's made to him.

    I know I will never dance like Wednesday, but she has Lurch for a dance partner. I certainly will never dance like James Brown, but one miscalculation when doing a split, and he'd be singing like Michael Jackson. I know I will never be as cool as Bruce Lee: but do I have to be?

  4. At the place I used to teach at, both my last department head and the assistant head bullied and harassed me, making my life there even more miserable. I strongly suspect that the reason was envy on their part, but neither of them admitted to it.

    When I started there, I was the youngest instructor. As well, I was single and the only one in the department with a graduate degree. That, I believe, in itself was enough to incur their wrath. (The ADH only had a bachelor's degree in his discipline and the head didn't have one at first. On the other hand, both of my parents had journeyman's papers in their respective trades.) But it only got worse when I studied for my second master's degree and, later, my Ph. D., even though I had the approval from certain administrators to continue my education.

    That didn't appear to be the only reason for their envy. Money seemed to be another sore point with them. I bought my car brand new and paid for it in cash after saving for it for several years because I was brought up to save my money, but also to spend it wisely. I, however, made the mistake of telling my department head about my new vehicle and his reaction was a withering look, almost as if I had committed some unspeakable act for which I had to be punished.

    I didn't realize that being educated, unmarried, and careful with one's finances were considered sufficient grounds for administrative punishment.

  5. My Sweetie and his 2 kidlets always look great in photos. I, on the other hand, look dorky even though I practice my pose. I think it's bone structure.

  6. My partner has a tenure-track position at an Ivy while I'm stuck in adjunct land. I had more fellowships than he did but he got the job. It is very very difficult and I have to push it into the back of my brain.

  7. When I was in the KGB, the men who had lunch with Kim Philby were considered "leadership capable."

    I never had lunch with the little gay turncoat.

  8. When I first started my teaching career, I worked part-time at a for-profit. I was applying for (and eventually got) a tenure-track position at the local community college, which is the job that most people in my city desperately want. I am certain that my boss at the for-profit was envious. He was working full-time during the day (running a department and teaching), was doing his PhD dissertation research at night and during the school's breaks, and had 20+ years on me, working so hard to get a tenure-track job. And then in walks some kid, fresh out of grad school with only a master's degree, who swoops in and gets the dream job (although in a different field, so there wasn't direct competition).

    In time between when I was accepted at the new job and when I left the old job, my boss was significantly less communicative and fairly grumpy when we were in the same room. Regardless of whether it was me or something else, it was an unfortunate end of our professional relationship.

  9. Many years ago I applied for a job at one community college campus but was offered a different job at another campus in the district that the hiring authority was transferring to. (Does that make sense?) Having never seen this "other" campus, I went for a visit.

    My future coworkers had all worked there part time for at least seven years, if not longer, before getting full time positions. I was essentially walking in off the street into a full time job without "paying my dues" like they had. I decided against accepting either job for other reasons (salary, commute) and am glad I did. I was unwelcome from before square one.

  10. The bitterest case of envy I've experienced was from a colleague and "friend" I made when I first moved to my current job. She was very eager to befriend me, and from the first she seemed to like feeling superior to me. I'm not the envious or competitive type, so I didn't much care. I saw it as a mark of her insecurity and just overlooked it. She'd remark on what she was accomplishing at work, and on her new relationship, and compare her boyfriend with mine, indicating that she was of course more appreciated at work and also had the better paramour. This didn't at all annoy me because like I said, I didn't care. I mean, I didn't want her boyfriend, and I had a good job, so I was perfectly happy for her. But she wanted me to be jealous.

    Our friendship ended after two years, over a period of about a month. I got an important plum of an assignment at work, and began dating a man far more accomplished than her beau, at least in her eyes. I don't date people because of their "accomplishments" (the guy I was in love with before my husband was younger and had no degree and only had a part time job, but boy, I loved that guy), and being envious of someone else's boyfriend on the basis of how "important" he was wouldn't ever have occured to me. However it was not lost on her.

    She went a little crazy, and at that point I realized that she was sooooooo insecure that our relationship could not exist unless she felt she was "better" than me, and the second that ended, she couldn't handle it. She actually reported me to the university for some nonsense she had invented in her head, trying to get me in trouble (which only ended up making her look bad). She also spread all sorts of gossip about my sex life, trying to make me look slutty.

    I still miss her sometimes. She was a character. A one of a kind personality. But she was completely nuts.

  11. I tire of colleagues and family members telling me how lucky I am to have a tenured teaching position. I have what is apparently their "dream job".

    While I consider myself fortunate, I assure you luck had nothing to do with it. I pursued my education and the requisite degrees. I gained professional experience and built a reputation, working in the field for a number of years. Then I switched gears and pursued a teaching job, which I competed for on a national level and which took several years of applications, interviews, etc.

    I remember my years as an adjunct (teaching 7 courses a week on nights and weekends). I value our part-time faculty, and they have my complete respect and admiration.

    Please just know that I didn't walk into this job. I earned it. And I work hard to continue earning it.

    1. Yup, that was going to be my answer. Being envied by all the folks who's concept of 'being a professor' comes from 3rd Rock and The Big Band Theory. Oy!

    2. well done.

      though I'd argue pretty forcefully that "hard work" and "luck" aren't somehow exclusive--the presence of one doesn't mean the absence of the other. Surely you know of someone in your field who, having worked just as hard as you and having been comparably successful, is not in a TT position?

      perhaps this is what you mean by "fortunate" - in that case, my apologies for reading this uncharitably. I, too, think I worked incredibly hard to earn the positions I've held--I'm damn good at my job, if I do say so myself. I just know that I am thankful every day for twice landing in the right spot at the right time. It's the least I can do to acknowledge that "hard work" isn't the only piece of the equation. . .

    3. Yes, vietcong, I think you and I mean the same thing regarding "luck" and being "fortunate". People who I know in my field who haven't been able to acquire a TT job generally have more limitations to deal with... as in being limited to a particular geographic area. When I was job hunting, I understood I had to move and was able to do so. Others are not. Not a matter of luck so much as limitations, and completely understandable.

  12. Here's a switch--I sometimes envy my adjuncts because they accomplish amazing things in our shared field. I don't have the energy after a 60+ hour week (sometimes much of it spent protecting their jobs), and I can't afford to scale back.

  13. I wasn't envied. I was resented, at least by the dudes who felt that someone getting grants made them look bad by comparison.