Monday, July 27, 2015

Rosemary in Raleigh. Faculty Paperwork Day. A Visit to the Kiosk.

I recently took a full time teaching job at a new institution. It's been 12 years since I was a new hire and I'd forgotten the gauntlet one must run in order to be an official member of the university.

For 4 1/2 hours I've battled, all with perfectly reasonable and friendly people, strait-jacketed by a humongous and labyrinthine set of forms and online portals. HR, benefits, the ID shop (in an absolutely terrifying "shed" in a part of campus where I assume they bury the bodies of those who cannot survive the ordeal), and then finally the parking services kiosk.

The kiosk, a two person affair where one is made to stand in the sun while molasses-slow - yet smiling - attendants slide paperwork through a chute and then wait, chewing gum, while one tries to negotiate said form against the outer wall of the kiosk, stained and bumpy, with one, two, no, three different pens.

$180 to park. I can pay it. I have a salary; one is not complaining about the money.

But in the sun, and the 90% humidity, one leans in close when the chute opens briefly to feel the cool air - from where? - emanate.

A walk to a parking lot some distance to retrieve the car's tag number, which will change in a week when one finally gets to the state tag office, and then a return to a line. 2 people outside the kiosk now, smiling. One's torn piece of paper held aloft to the kiosk people. One has the number; one is ready to complete.

And meanwhile cars roll on either side of the kiosk while one - and 2 others - scurry and press bodies hard against the stained and bumpy wall to afford passage.

One's eyes blur. One's head beads. The sun now, just 60 feet off the surface of the earth. The occasional gasp of chilled chute air the only thing keeping us alive.

Tomorrow a different building, where one will meet with IT folks - indoors, one hopes.

In my car a gyro and warming tea in a sweaty cup. One can't see my car from here. One has already forgotten in which directions it waits. Seriously, one's brain is fried.

But it is my turn again, the chute opens, I press my head toward it. A hand reaches out, welcoming, welcome to the university. Here's what we promised you. Here is the end of this battle.

A red hang tag. It says "STUDENT" in gigantic black letters.


  1. How did it go when you called their hand on it? Oh, do tell us!

    1. NO! I want to imagine "one" just burst into flames brought on my idiocy and humidity and the sun. That's my mood today as I was on campus as well, like a nut, and got waylaid for some questions that I answered quickly and poorly.

      The Kiosk is a metaphor, my friends...

  2. one tries to negotiate said form against the outer wall of the kiosk, stained and bumpy, with one, two, no, three different pens..

    I love the simple humiliation of not providing a writing surface.

  3. 4 images in Cal's terrifically blurry and awful graphic.

    1. Nah, I could have made it more blurry.

    2. I like how the person with hir back to us casts no shadow.

      Without your hangtag, YOU DON'T EXIST.

  4. one leans in close when the chute opens briefly to feel the cool air - from where? - emanate

    In the run-up to World War II, most cities in the US excavated tunnels that could be used to evacuate the populace, transport supplies, etc. in the event that the city came under seige or was bombed. The access ports to this vast, subterranian network were cleverly disguised as kiosks for parking attendants and drive-in bank tellers. In the summer, cool air from the tunnels is drawn through screened-over hatches into the kiosks, to the pleasure of their occupants who are quite unaware of their genesis. This has been one of the government's best-kept secrets, even more closely held than how the moon landings were faked, and I alone was privy to it -- until now.

  5. Damn it, now you're making me want to stay at my current school. I could put up with that shit when I was younger. Not now. Ugh.

  6. Welcome, Rosemary. One of the best first posts I've ever have GOT the misery all right. Hang in there.