Friday, September 9, 2016

Trustee Misery With Annie From Abelard

I attended a trustee meeting because that seems like something I should start doing now. Holy shit, best decision I ever made.

It is an interview of an archaeological contractor and the board of trustees. I will label the trustees as 1-5 and the contractor as "Contractor." Most of the hour is really dry and horrible, but there are some fantastic nuggets that I separated out.


1: We're not here to discuss WHY there are bones beneath- beneath this building and the surrounding developed area.

Contractor: Well, that's not much of a discussion. They're there because you guys built on top of a graveyard.

2: It was a common practice then.

Contractor: The building was built in the seventies.

3: I'm fairly certain it was... it was commonplace. That was a long time ago.

5: Yeah, like fifty or sixty years ago, at least.

4: Might wanna check your math there, sweetheart.


Contractor: Well, actually it was a very upper-class cemetery that you guys developed. But the church it used to be attached to was defunct and most of those buried there had no remaining descendants. Those that did, your university did dig up. That is, disinter.

4: It was a cemetery for the upper-class?

Contractor: Yes.

4: So these deceased would have very much WANTED to be buried there.

Contractor: I suppose.

4: Would you say that the deceased were... thankful or, well, grateful to be buried there?

1: Alright, alright.


3: So, bottom line is-is that we're tired of bones floating up all the time. It's not good. Nobody likes bones.

Contractor: Well, I like bones.

4: I sense a company motto.


2: Can you maybe quantify for me how certain you are you've found all the bones?

Contractor: Two thirds...ish.


5: That's not a lot.

2: I mean, that's pretty good.

3: If you take those odds and bet on them towards infinity you'd be very wealthy.

1: What? If you took 51% odds and bet on them you'd be wealthy towards infinity. That means nothing.

5: If you're buying a car and it says that two thirds of crashes do not cause the engine to explode, would you buy it?

4: Question: Who is the car for?

1: Oh, Jesus Christ. 


4: So, you've worked for us three times and all three times you've said "Well, that's it! We've got all the bones!"

Contractor: Well, there are a lot of bones. It's a cemetery.

4: Just don't lie to us.

Contractor: Yeah.

4: Because there's always room.

Contractor: What?

4: Always room for more bones.


5: I mean we are basically paying you an exorbitant fee for something mafiosos do for free on a regular basis.


1: So if more bones float up after you leave, you won't come back and dig them up for free?

Contractor: Well that's something we can talk about. But if it's extended work, yes, you'll have to pay for it.

4: Seems like pretty bare-bones service if you ask me.


Best of Trustee Number Four:

4: Please show some respect for this institution. People are dying to get in.

4: Would you say you're a... bone-a-fide archaeologist?

4: Throw me a bone here, guys.

4: Were you really digging for bones? Because it sounds like you're a gold-digger to me.

4: If we find out that this wasn't done right, we'll have a bone to pick with you.

4: Bones. Bones bones bones. BONES!

4: I'm serious. Dead serious. Why would even ask that? ... Bones.


  1. I liked 5's "mafioso" comment, too.

    This post made my day, Annie. Laughing too hard to come up with any dumb bone / graveyard jokes right now.

  2. Wait. I'm confused. The trustees are concerned with what car would Jesus buy?

  3. Go towards the light, Carol Anne.

  4. I'm partial to the contractor, myself (despite having some doubts about archeologists who end up doing this sort of work -- but hey, we all have to make a living, and some documentation/recovery before/after everything is bulldozed beats none at all).

    Also, #2 (and 3 and 5) -- "It was a common practice then" -- sound(s) like too many of my students, whenever any action, attitude, etc. that is even slightly questionable and/or complex comes up. When I ask what we're doing now that people in 50 (or 20) years will consider equally appalling, they're usually stumped.

    1. I moonlighted in grad school as a network and computer support guy for a little consulting archeology firm that did most of their business in pre-construction-on-state-or-federal-land survey and recover jobs.

      A really down to earth bunch of guys and gals. I think they all harbored big dreams, but getting to dig up a pre-columbian camp-site every few months kept food on the table and their hands in.

    2. Indeed. There are a few sleazeballs who will testify that "there isn't really anything there" when there is (just as there are a few trained "wetland ecologists" who will swear up and down that the spring that reliably kept butter cool for a pre-refrigeration-era dairy business, so much so that they built a fairly elaborate springhouse around it, isn't perennial, so there's no protected wetland there, or downstream), but for the most part I think people are just trying to do what they can to continue using their training, and following their interests, under less-than-ideal circumstances (which sounds kinda familiar).

  5. This was worth my checking in on the page after a long time away.

  6. "3: If you take those odds and bet on them towards infinity you'd be very wealthy.

    1: What? If you took 51% odds and bet on them you'd be wealthy towards infinity. That means nothing."

    This is how I know that Annie and I don't work at the same joint: my trustees are not nearly that numerate. Plus, they were born with golden spoons in their mouths and consequently think they're fucking alchemists.

    1. On a similar note, alchemy is the reason Batshit U's president is known as Gol Dintalead. Although he can only manage one direction, he can transform anything.

  7. I am ashamed to say that I only now decoded 4's remark, "Always room for more bones." And here I had been thinking it an innocent comment on the apparent difficulty of estimating the number of bones yet to be unearthed.

    1. 4 sounds like a pretty sharp person to have on one's side.

  8. This was pure pleasure. Wouldn't it be great if more higher ed board types were like #4?


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