Monday, August 27, 2012

Surly + Meetings = Rage

Dear Division Head, Please note that the start-of-year divisional meeting is not a venue for your personal comedy routine. Since you are only in your second year, you do not know any of your faculty members well enough to engage in jocular, ad hominem humor at their expense. Also, you seem to believe that the phrase “ex-wife” universally conjures bitterness, anger, and cartoonish visions of shrill harpies screeching across the sky. Does it not occur to you that those of us who are ex- and current wives or just, you know, female, might find your dark little asides just a wee bit insulting? We don’t care how funny and clever you think you are. We just want you to run meetings efficiently and keep a modicum of higher-level bullshit out of our corn flakes. We want you to complete an occasional sentence that isn’t so littered with “clever” puns and asides that its meaning is completely obscured. When we raise serious issues, we want thoughtful answers, not irrelevant quips. And for God’s sake, man, when your fucking lame attempts at humor waste so much time that we don't get through our agenda and have to come in the next day (a day of rest, a day of planning, a day of hangover recovery, a day that we have never before had to use for meetings), we want to string you up by your clever, clever tongue and scream at you to SHUT THE FUCK UP FOREVER. Surly out.


  1. Since students don't listen to us anymore, the only consolation for being department chair has to be the captive audience.

  2. In other news, the "100 Reasons" anti-grad school website seems to be stuck at 85 posts; it was last updated in July.

  3. Surly, I have bad news for you. Once your chair gets to know you, the jokes don't get any funnier. In fact, familiarity may enbolden him to make the remarks in front of students. That's been my experience.

    1. There ARE open mic nights at comedy clubs; maybe Chair Chuckles would like to try out his material on average people?
      (Patton Oswalt meets the weirdest open mic comic ever.)

  4. Sounds like a true comedic genius. Perhaps he has some thoughts on the modern state of air travel?

  5. Oh, my. The only reasonable response I can think of to this is a mass attack of flu (stomach, at this time of year, I think)/long-scheduled doctor's appointments/car breakdowns/childcare issues (preferably communicated via emails including the phrase "I asked my ex if he could get time off from work at the last moment to take care of the kids, but he called me a shrill harpy with no time-management skills"). Really, there needs to be a significant logical-consequences cost to this for him, or he's going to do it again. If there are things that actually need to be worked out and/or announced, figure out a workaround that does not include opportunities for one-liners.

    Also, I hope you have some sort of system for evaluating administrators. If so, use it. This guy needs to shape up or ship out. Was he this bad last year? And is the divorce recent? If so, things might improve as he processes the experience, but I wouldn't count on it. He sounds like a narcissist, and narcissists' methods of processing personal loss tend to be hard on those around them, including (perhaps especially) professional colleagues.

  6. Whoah. Jeezus. Ex-wife jokes? This sounds like absolute hell. What if you brought a flask and passed it around during meetings? Or, more boldly, called a boycott of them?


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