looks like I’m doing XX

Explain to me how this happens:

Two low-level administrators at the college are talking. Neither is my supervisor or even in my division of the college. One says, “I wonder who could do XX for my department in a couple weeks.” XX is a project that would involve about 8-10 hours of work. It is something I would imagine about 30-40 people on campus are absolutely qualified to do.

The other administrator says, “GripeDoctor could do it. I’m sure she’d be very pleased to do it.”

So administrator #1 emails administrator #2 saying, “Can you confirm that GripeDoctor can do XX?”

Let me mention that at this point, I am oblivious to all this. I know nothing about any of this until administrator #2 replies to administrator #1’s email and ccs me. Administrator #2’s email goes like this: “As I said, I am sure GripeDoctor would be very pleased to do XX. Please contact her to arrange the details.”

That’s how I found out that I have been committed by administrator #2, who, I just want to emphasize, is not my supervisor, not familiar with my workload, etc., etc., etc., to doing XX. I don’t have time or energy for this, lots of other people are qualified, but because of the way this all came about, if I say no to doing XX, I will look like I am backing out of something.

I can’t count on Dean Know-It-All or Cool Chair to help me out here. Dean Know-It-All is all about pimping out her people and Cool Chair will fear that if I back out of XX, she’ll be tapped to do it. So I’m afraid I’m screwed.

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Published in: on February 15, 2008 at 6:38 am  Leave a Comment  

what to say to whom

Dean Dad gives excellent advice to folks who have applied for other positions but not yet received offers:

If you’re in a setting in which being ‘found out’ would be awkward but not fatal, I’d adopt a two-pronged strategy of “need to know” and “strategic evasion.” Tell only those folks you would need as references, and stress to them that you consider the matter confidential. When it leaks – which it will – simply don’t answer the question directly. Don’t lie, but don’t compromise yourself, either. “I have no plans to be anywhere else next year” is technically true, since you don’t have an offer in hand. (Administrators and politicians can do this in our sleep.) If your skeptical interlocutor keeps pressing, change the subject. Think of it as cultivating an air of mystery.

As far as I know, my dean doesn’t know that I’ve applied elsewhere, although ever since I finished my Ph.D., she’s been saying to me, “You won’t be around here much longer.” So she certainly suspects.

Dean Dad’s correspondent found him/herself in an icky situation when his/her chair, who knows of the job search, apparently mentioned it to another colleague who mentioned it to correspondent. This happens all the time. Many times I’ve told my dean something in confidence and been asked about it later by a colleague who apparently spoke to the dean. I don’t know if this kind of breech occurs in other workplaces, but it seems to be rampant in academia. As I said in my comment on Dean Dad’s blog,

I think it is extremely unprofessional for [the] chair to have mentioned [the job search] to a colleague and extremely unprofessional for the colleague to have said anything about it to [the job searcher]. But this is exactly what would happen at my institution. People can’t keep their mouths shut. The colleague should have said to the chair, “That is none of my business. I am going to pretend I don’t have this information,” and then should have erased it from his mind.

It’s called professional courtesy.

Published in: on January 26, 2008 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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no thank you

Is saying thank you that hard? Apparently it is. Witness:

  • A professor at another institution contacted me because someone at her institution went to a presentation I did and thought I might be able to help her with something she was working on. She asked me some questions, I answered them, and I thought that was the end of it. The next day, she called me and basically said, “I don’t have time to deal with this, I need you to do it.” I politely told her I didn’t have time. The next day, she called again, again telling me she “needed” me to follow up on something. Hello—I don’t work for her or with her. I was doing her a goddamn favor! She called me six times in all and emailed a couple times—I helped as much as I could, given that I have a job and have my own tasks to keep me busy. I was as polite as I could be, given the circumstances. After all that, did I get a thank you? No. As far as I can tell, she’s pissed off at me for not “helping” her more (i.e. doing her job for her).
  • A student at my institution who is not actually my student brought me a very long and troubled draft for a class he is in. He said he would appreciate my feedback on it because he had heard that I “give good comments.” So I spent an hour reading and responding to the paper and emailed him my comments. I saw him several times in the days following and he never said a word about the paper. Finally, I said, “Did you receive my emailed comments?” He said, “Oh, yeah.” Just like that. No thank you. No acknowledgement that I did something nice.

It’s not like I want people to fawn all over me and thank me for every little damn thing I do, but come on, people, if I go out of my way for you, couldn’t you at least acknowledge what I’ve done with two simply little words???

Published in: on November 26, 2007 at 8:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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