I Just Need A Bigger Box


Fatalism is trying to rear its ugly head, again. I’ll fight it back into the box and stuff it in the closet once more, if I can find the energy to go and locate a bigger box for it; it seems to be getting bigger every time I see it.

I don’t think I could be more uncomfortable with my people-rural dwellers in the southern part of the U.S. who mostly come from blue collar backgrounds and profess the absurdity of a “liberal” college education whenever in earshot of a college educated person. I surmise that there is apparently nothing better to put me in my place than a well-timed snipe, or at least that’s the quickest and easiest route.

If that were not enough in my daily, so to speak, technological advances have hindered my ability to completely disengage from the nonsense. While I am sick of my various “helpful” tech devices in many respects (quite frankly, I feel like a dog on a short leash), I’ll leave at least some of them powered on, lest I should lose my job for not being available 24/7.

Heck, my employer even bought all of us new phones that required attendance at a 45 minute long presentation about the functions of the phone; this for the sole purpose of providing employees with the capability of forwarding incoming phone calls to personal cell phones during non-working hours. Work in non-working hours? Hmmmm. I’ll try to figure that one out later.

Can you believe it?! I can! I was told last year that I needed to correspond with students on the weekend, even though I am not allowed to schedule any weekend hours. I feel constantly confused.

If I work over my scheduled hours, I have been told that I can’t flex my hours (say for a medical appointment). Rather, over time is to be considered a gift made by me to my students and the institution. Wait! What? A gift that I must offer on the weekend? Are gifts requirements? See what I mean? The rules keep shifting.

At any rate the whole phone thing caused me to throw out everything my mama taught me about giving and receiving.  Let’s just say that I full on looked that gift horse right in the mouth; well, at the very least I gave it a long, nasty side look before rolling my eyes as far back in my head as they would possibly go without hurting. For a minute I thought that the eye roll may have extended too far because I rolled right up onto the precipice of pain, but in the end, I was just fine.

Disconnection from technology and maintenance of my continually declining middle class status are misaligned attitudes of a successful person, so I am reminded regularly. This means that I must be connected to social nonsense of one sort or another all the time! I’m mentally exhausted just thinking about it!

Successful? A preponderance of the collective evidence suggests that I made a stupid decision to go to college so that I could teach young adults for pennies on the dollar. Even more, most of these young’ons, as we like to call them in the South, also argue that college is a waste of time that results in a useless piece of paper, while simultaneously bragging about being enrolled in college courses. Home grown, for sure. Did you know that my paper is useless? That hurts!

Yeah, I must be stupid for selecting this path.

Is it me, or are we living in the twilight zone?

Several of my female students today let me know that they think that Dr. Ford is a liar who hates men, and that she orchestrated a bogus claim of rape to discredit a good family man who doesn’t even drink. They must have been watching the highly credible Fox News again because clearly I heard Kavanaugh say (it feels like about 20 different times) during his testimony that he likes beer, didn’t I? Maybe it’s me again.

While I did not argue the point with the students, I did attempt to show them the similarities between disparaging comments about race and disparaging comments about gender with a different scenario, although several students argued that the two positions are not alike at all.

According to one student, “It is totally off limits to talk badly about someone’s race or ethnicity because they can’t help that, but talking about women is different.” When I attempted to prompt her to think deeper about the issue, she simply said, “I’m sorry, but they are nothing alike.” Another student added, “Perception is reality.”

I did not even bother to share my perception of the comments; it would not have furthered our educational goals for the day. My guess is that sharing my perception would have created a spiral of darkness wherein I would have spent the next few days ruminating on all of my negative experiences with my people. Not to mention the sleepless nights filled with vivid dreams that would have caused me to feel like I had never closed my eyes-typical for ruminators. Now, that’s a reality that I’d like to avoid!

The bigger problem with putting that negative spiral in motion is that it negates all of my good experiences with my people.

I did, however, have one student who got very quiet and began to slump in her chair a bit. I asked if she was upset, and she said that she was. I asked why, and she stated that she did not know. A few minutes later she came up after class, and as she spoke she wiped tears away from her eyes with her t-shirt while simultaneously saying, “I don’t know why I am so emotional about this.” She then proceeded to thank me for pointing out something that she needed to see. She told me that she had never examined the issue from that point of view before and that she felt really emotional about the insight she gained into her own thinking. The lesson was tinged with shame about being overconfident in her assessment of right and wrong (she wants to be a good person). She added, “Truly, thank you for showing me. I’m not even joking; I mean it.”

This is why I am just dumb enough to have gone to college and selected an often disrespected position that is horribly underpaid, given the amount of time and education that must be put into pursuing it. I have more than 10 years of higher education behind me at this point, and this is what a successful day looks like! The wins are mostly small (much like my pay check), but collectively they matter (much like my pay check).

I think I will go search for that box now.





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