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?