This week I had lunch at the Patroon Room with someone I hadn't seen in about 15 years. She asked me, kind of out of the blue, whether I find my job rewarding? The question took me by surprise. At the time I wondered if she was judging me. I was wearing a tie dye tee shirt and bright pink capri pants. I'm so not where I was when we were peers in class. I have a great memory, and 15 or 20 years ago still resonates on occasion, but actually seeing her again made that reflection all the more powerful. When we were both students, she was full time, GA supported. Doted on by the faculty. Hung out in study groups where they memorized every nuance of the literature in preparation for the comps. I was one class per semester, wearing a suit, running to class from Western Avenue where the bus dumped me out, often late if the class was 4:15 since my System Administration ball & chain did its level best to keep me inside the velvet trap, and off CDTA bus 10. I was invisible to most faculty, and truth be told, kind of liked it that way. Did my funded peers covet my situation? I always felt they disdained it. Or maybe they were just afraid of me.
The question was polite, it was a friendly conversation. We had a lot of fun gossiping. But I wondered,
is she thinking how could I chuck the ladder and excitement to become
a mellow, spacey hippie? I didn't think about it a lot before I said
that I love teaching and that is the part of
my job I find most rewarding. I told her the only downside is being an
adjunct, but I don't worry about security at all. After ten years being
fired seems unlikely, and even if it happened, I'd land on my feet.
Afterwards I thought about it some more, and wondered whether she was
not asking me because she questions my motivation, but
because she is soul searching her own choices and future. Clearly the stress of running fast takes its toll.
I thought about it some more and decided even when my "cohort" was
hanging out in the study lounge and I was dragging my ball and chain to
class, I was the hippie.
An quasi-unrelated aside: Now I figured everyone knows I am too young to have
been a hippie. But yesterday, one of my students said to me while explaining a contemporary band
and protest music: "you're from the sixties,
you understand..." I didn't bother to correct him, didn't say "hey
buddy, I am a decade too young to be 'from the sixties' except as a baby" -- but that took
me by surprise too. LOL moment (in my head).
Added: A funny moment, the blast from the past and I were discussing a person we both know, and I summed it up suddenly: "he has little man syndrome." This so surprised and tickled her. She may have forgotten how fearless I am in my discourse.