Monday, January 7, 2013

Someone new to avoid: Babbling Betty

I don't care if this post "outs" me to my colleagues. I simply need to vent.

We have a "new" adjunct teaching for us. She has taught for us in the past, about ten years ago, but I'd never met her. I met her today on the way to the room where our copy machine sulks.

I greeted her with, "Hello, you must be Betty. Welcome to the department. I'm The Contemplative Cynic, but feel free to call me TCC [FYI, my non-CM-name is six syllables long, so often gets abbreviated to my initials]. My office is over there, so if you need anything, you know where to find me."

She responded with, "Oh is TCC a nickname? Is it? Oh, dat's a good nickname. Dat's a good nickname. How clever of you to have such a nickname. Widdle Betty wuvs your nickname..."

Now that, in and of itself, as written, wasn't too horrific an exchange. What made it worse was that she used the same tone used to cajole panting, excited dogs and squirming small children when rubbing their bellies to soothe them: she actually used baby talk on me.

When my look conveyed that I was, if anything, frozen in shock (or disgust), she continued to introduce herself and tell me about how she was taking snacks to class because "da widdle dears wuv to eat snacks in cwass. What does TCC think?" I swear she used the word "wuv" about twelve times in her introduction.

It's not like I've never had odd colleagues (or BEEN the odd colleague). The guy who wore Star Trek uniforms to class and swore at us in Klingon was odd at first, but amusing. He liked to use Star Wars metaphors that got the other Trekkies up in arms. The female colleague who dressed up in prom and bridesmaid dresses she had bought from thrift stores because she felt the dresses deserved more than one special day ,was someone I could easily ignore, as long as her feather boas didn't make me sneeze. The department administrative assistant who packed all of her snacks in individual Ziploc baggies (each slice of apple got its own individual little baggie) was very generous with her individually-packed snacks, and I loved her quirkiness.

But Betty, I cannot and refuse to love. Talking to me in baby talk is simply NOT going to work. When I expressed my distress to the chair, she assured me that Betty had done a good job for us in the past and that, given that we pay our adjuncts in shiny pebbles and dried leaves, we have to be happy with anyone willing to teach part time.

Am I overreacting by not wanting Betty in the department? I don't think so. If I had a professor who talked in baby talk, I'd probably write her off as a kook and drop the class. I can't imagine how I'm going to be able to stand a whole quarter with this woman's infantilized communication style, let alone have others associate her with our department. I'm embarrassed to work in a department that hired her.

Am I being a total asshole about this?

25 comments:

  1. Cynic: Thank you. I laughed when I read this, because it is nice to know I'm not alone. That's why we're here at CM. It is so absurd.

    But I also sympathize with Betty. If you were getting fucked by everybody and paid in shiny pebbles and dried leaves, you might be acting like her. From her perspective, it's all absurd, so she acts the part of a jester. She's probably thinking, "Seriously, you're going to pay me $999 to be humiliated by teenagers and adminifucks for four months, and you expect me to behave 'normally'? Fuck, you get what you pay for."

    Her alternative is to be on her best behavior and turn in an Oscar-worthy performance... and if she did, she would still have no chance of ever being hired full-time and paid a living wage by your school. So why do that? Why not have a little fun and fuck with people's minds while she's there getting fucked?

    Others here have mourned and decried the oligarchs' deliberate dumbing down of our population. It's so sad.

    I wish I had something funny to say; Strel will (I hope).

    I also hope you don't get outed.

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  3. I teach general-ed astronomy, and so help me, I think it's just a matter of time until baby talk will be the only usable medium. The text in my book is between 7th and 9th grade level, and so is the math, and they still snivel, "It's SOOO HARD..."

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    1. I came close to it many times while I was teaching. Quite often, I was using language and terminology close to the level used in a colouring book. This was with people who were legally adults, were old enough to vote, and could serve in the military.

      Yikes!

      BTW, many of the textbooks that were offered to me by publishers weren't even at the junior high school level. For example, worked examples which included little pictures showing the readers which calculator keys had to be pressed to complete calculations? That's like my 40-plus year old edition of Halliday and Resnick showing illustrations of how one's slide rule showed be used.

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    2. I teach the same class and my students are also like that. I've had kids who can't do division. I don't know how they managed to get out of high school, much less into a university (strike that, I know how they got here--we're open enrollment, so we have to take pretty much everybody), but it is frustrating as hell.

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  4. Poison her cup. I hate her by proxy.

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  5. Wow. Just....wow. Betty seems reminiscent of the Lucy Punch character in the movie BAD TEACHER (a movie that should be actively sought out by all CMers who haven't already seen it). You could follow Cameron Diaz's lead and get creative with some poison ivy.

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  6. "I wish I had something funny to say; Strel will (I hope)."

    Aw hell naw...

    They do baby talk, you start doing Three Stooges routines, or quote Ash from the "Evil Dead" movies. I think this is a weird-off, and the cutsie-poo bullshit was the shot across the bow. If you can ventriloquize fart noises and sing in Pig Latin, maybe she will realize she's met her match. You know, she could be thinking your name and nickname are a joke, which is why she did that....I would take a wait-and-see approach.

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    1. "Good. Bad. I'm the guy with the gun."

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    3. "...and this is my BOOM stick."

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    4. Or a simple "You're goin' down!" should suffice.

      I had no idea we had such an Evil Dead fan club going here.

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  7. I wonder if you could be a bitch about it somehow. I know I'd be tempted to do a version of what I do to my students when they send me e-mails in text speak that of course I understand, but that I pretend not to understand. Look at her blankly and say "excuse me?" Explain that you have a hearing issue and you do not understand when people do not speak clearly. Some variation of this (what ever works for you.....). I think she would have to die if she crossed my path. I'm with you----baby talk is one of my hard limits.

    This reminds me just a little of one of my colleagues who likes to give everybody nick names. When she came on, she immediately began calling me by a fairly standard nick name for my actual name. It is not that close to my real name (think "Betty" for Elizabeth-----it is something like that) and she said it in this high pitched, baby voice. My skin began to crawl immediately. I asked her not to call me that----and relayed the funny story of when I was in fourth grade and my teacher wrote that on my desk name tag and I asked her to change it. When she refused, I ripped it up. First time in trouble with the admins. "ooooh, but I want us to be FRIENDS and close and I want to call you by your nick name! Besides, I LOVE the nick name! I'll have you LOVING it too in no time!" She used the nick name every time she saw me; I corrected her every time. She began using it in e-mails. I sent correction e-mails. She is not a proffie-----and her job entails sending mass e-mails. She managed to get others to call me the nick name occasionally. I was pissed. This person is fortunate because her name does not have an easy or obvious nick name (think Jane-----no nick name!!!) so I could not do it to her. I began calling her "Janey Waney." Every time I saw her, I'd call her Janey Waney in a sing song voice. I put it in a mass e-mail----literally, the ridiculous made up nick name in a serious e-mail. The whole battle even caught the attention of the Dean, who was amused.

    "Janey Waney" did finally stop calling me my version of Betty. We are NOT friends.

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    1. Wow. That's not even passive aggressive. That's insulting as hell.

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    2. Wait, she made up a nickname FOR you and continued to use it when asked not to. What an asshole.

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    3. How about a supervisor who does something like that because one didn't show them "proper" respect, and continuing to do so despite one being clearly irritated about being addressed in that manner?

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    4. TCC - it's jaw-dropping. 'I'm going to call you Teenie Weenie! Because it's so cute! And if you complain I'll just say it louder!" This is workplace bullying, pure and simple. Your Dean should not have "been amused"; he should have taken action to stop it.

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  8. Part of my job entails working with little kids one-on-one, and after two solid hours with one of them (often after crawling around extricating them from under things), I sometimes forget to turn off my little kid voice. I usually hear myself after a few minutes and switch to a reasonable adult tone, but if I do not, colleagues will say something along the lines of "Jesus, that's loud. And simple! Are you talking to the guy in the NEXT ROOM? And is he FOUR?" And then I'll switch.

    If you already don't like this person, then it can't hurt to pretend that you don't know the voice is intentional/liked by her, and call her on it.

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    1. If this isn't the case, and this woman uses baby talk because it really does express what's in her mind, she should have her tongue stapled to the floor. I'll lend you my heavy-duty, industrial-grade, power staple gun, and it'll take more than a few staples to bolt it down securely.

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  9. Wow. And I thought I was weird.

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