Saturday, December 28, 2013

Two Years Ago on CM. The Golfer on the Job Market.

Duffer Darryl from Dallas on Search Committee Dynamics.

We're nearly done a fairly boring job search process. There haven't been any big blowups, no crazy scenes. Work got passed around. We had some votes. Most things made sense.

We're hiring two positions, we're a small department, and we got along just fine.

There was one guy we didn't invite to campus and I guess that was the only decision that went against what I thought was right. But the whole process had been so calm and normal it didn't even occur to me to complain.

Then today I was sitting in the lounge with another tenured proffie from the committee, Judy. We were not in committee mode; we were just shooting the breeze.

I suddenly said, "Hey, why did you and the rest vote against that one candidate, the guy from Florida?"

"Oh," Judy said. "All that talk in the phone interview about golf! My sister's husband is a golfer. He spends all his time on it; his clubs alone cost more than a thousand dollars. It's really wasteful. And he's gone 5-6 hours three or four times a week. We don't want someone like that teaching here. We have too much to do. You can't just take a whole day off to go golfing in the middle of the semester."

I looked at her open mouthed. I'm a golfer. She knows it. I have a tie with golf clubs on it. It's a bit of a running joke that if I'm not in my office I'm probably golfing. He didn't have much to say about golf, but I'd actually brought it up because I asked a question about what he did to unwind from the pressure of a heavy teaching load. All he said is that he played, and knew that Dallas and environs was good golf country.

"That's ridiculous," I said. And Judy was now open mouthed. "I taught my 9 and 10 am classes today. I had an office hour. I went and played 9 holes with a neighbor at Stevens Park, and got back here for our textbook meeting at 3. Am I doing something wrong?"

"How can you play that fast?" she said.

"I play 9 holes in about 90 minutes. Lots of us do. 18 holes I might play on a weekend, and that can take 5 hours if I have lunch and some drinks. But surely you spend time on the weekend on things just for yourself, right?"

"Well, you know me," Judy said. "I've always got my grading with me."

"Yeah," I said. "But your kids? Your husband? Don't you have your mother over in Ft. Worth you go visit on the weekends? Didn't you take her someplace last week during the week? Weren't you off campus all day, in fact?"

And at that point I'd gone too far.

"Well, golf is a silly hobby. Just look at your tie," she said.

22 comments:

  1. Judy pisses me off. I have at least one colleague just like her who just decides something and then that's it!

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    1. Yeah, me too. Unfortunately, mine is a department head so that decision is always final. The faculty do enjoy bringing up counter examples and suggesting other hypotheticals that force him to twist himself in a knot, just to avoid backing down.

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    2. I see you've met my friend Cognitive Dissonance. I, too, have enjoyed the many macreme' presents it has brought me over the years.

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  2. One of my undergrad professors taught me that "someone has too much time on their hands" is a deeply offensive and dismissive statement, and I haven't used it (except in extreme circumstances) since. Judging other people's hobbies and what they choose to do with their spare time is not cool. I think it might go back to this Puritan work ethic thing we've got, though--spare time is BAD. We're not supposed to HAVE spare time. Especially if you're not stinking rich--you should be working harder if you find yourself with spare time. Otherwise it's your own damn fault that you're poor, you lazy sod.

    And wow, I didn't mean for that to turn into a rant.

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    1. They say "The Devil finds work for idle hands."

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  3. I hate the golf nazis!

    And I love Snarky's point of view on this overall issue. I have had so many "busy" colleagues who are just making noise and not accomplishing things. I love putting my feet up and letting others think I'm lazy. Fuck them.

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    1. "Busy" is the new show-off meme.

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    2. I think busy has been a badge of honour/show-off meme for quite a while now. After all, if you ask someone how they are, they don't say 'fine' anymore nearly as often as they say 'busy!".

      Can't see the appeal of golf myself, but most people can't see the appeal in some of my pastimes (no, not that!)

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  4. Golf is a silly hobby. Like drinking bourbon, photographing ducks, crocheting, fapping, sleeping, reading, dancing, watching the sun set, and spinning plates on your finger tips.

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  5. I have a button somewhere that says "Yes I am done, I did it right the first time"

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    1. I want one of those. I'll display it next to the one I have that says, "That's the way we've always done it" with the red Ghostbusters circle and line through it.

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  6. Beware, candidates, beware the trick question (however unintentional) about what you do with your free time. There is no better way to be arbitrarily judged. Ballet? You're probably anorexic, and a snob. Playing with your kids? A lightweight. Yoga? A New Age nutball. Knitting? You're insufferably dull. Extreme sports? Likely to be out injured. Cooking might be an OK answer, but not if you are dealing with ascetics. Just look brightly at the interviewer and say, "Read, of course!"

    God, this story breaks my heart.

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    1. "Playing with your kids? A lightweight." Yeah, I got that one in graduate school. But later on, I also was judged for WHAT I was reading. Don't let on if you like any best-selling novels or accessible poets.

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    2. "What do you do in your free time?" is a good question to ask candidates because they might answer that they do stuff with their spouse or family. Since you're not allowed to ask about those specific questions, this is a good way to find out.

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    3. The answer, "I spend time with my family" is the best bet, I think, unless there are a bunch of bitter single people on the committee (bitter maybe because all the parents in the department dump their extra work on the single faculty).

      After the Beakeress and I had a kid, it made interviews a lot easier. I could tell the interviewer that I'm a family man, rather than a guy who spent most of his time watching ESPN.

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  7. I think it stinks that yoga now has the New Age Yuppiness cachet. I've been doing yoga for 40 years....before there were any special outfits involved.

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  8. This story is so gross. Unless everyone on the search committee is a robot, they all have some free time and they all do something with it. I was once on a committee where several people had reservations about a candidate due to his charity work. Meanwhile, they all had hobbies and children, etc. because, you know, they were people.

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  9. After getting my B. Sc. in the late 1970s, I worked in the oil industry for a while. I started with a large corporation at one location and was transferred to another after six months.

    My boss there was a corporate go-getter. I asked him about the overtime policy, because many companies in those days gave their employees time off for any extra hours worked in lieu of pay. His answer was: "We're professionals here. We work unlimited hours." In other words, any personal free time as considered theft from the company. If one left at the official quitting time, even if there wasn't an emergency or a deadline to be met, one could count on having a very short career there. One was expected to be on the job 24 hours a day.

    It didn't make much sense to me and I was canned less than 4 months later. Fortunately, I soon started at a company that was considerably more accommodating.

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    1. Law firms are like this too, I hear. That's one reason I keep trying to steer my youngest away from a career in law.

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