Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Agincourt, Again

It's St. Crispin's Day!

That's the day when we remember that we don't remember well, but are easily manipulated by patriotic rhetoric.  Or, at least, it we should remember that we don't remember.

In Shakespeare's Henry V, the play's most memorable (at least to me) passage comes in Henry's speech before the battle of Agincourt. 

I seem to post about St. Crispin's Day every few years.

In 2007.

On Veteran's Day, 11 November 2005.  (Where I posted the speech.)

And last year, the 600th anniversary, 2015.  (Where I posted even more of the speech.)


I got an email from a colleague today, a colleague who sometimes gets really petty.  And this is one of those times.  The problem is, when she gets petty, other people have to rein her in, and then she gets really mad.  Unfortunately, right now, I'm the one with the reins.  (But, if the pettiness persists, other folks will help.  Still, she'll be most mad at me.)

Last week, I made the mistake of asking another colleague (who's in a position where they're supposed to answer these sorts of questions) a question in the department office, and then since I didn't understand the shorthand of her answer, a followup question.  And she blew up at me and started ranting at me for being so so rude.  So I apologized, said I hadn't meant to be rude, but had just not understood.  And she blew up at me more.  So, again, I apologized, and said I hadn't meant to be rude, and she blew up at me more, and then she turned and walked into her office. 

That was really unpleasant.  Let's just say, I'm averse to conflict.  If the zombie apocalypse comes, you don't want me on your side.  If you need a latrine dug, then you may want my help.  If you need someone to visit while you're in the hospital, then you may want me to.  But if it comes to a verbal fight, in a hallway or anywhere, then no, I'm crap at that.

If I could have done it financially, I would have turned in my letter of resignation that day.  I still would, if I could do it financially.  (I did discuss it with the chair.  Meh.  Neither good nor bad.  This is one of the favored folks of the chair.  But if she ever verbally attacks me again, I'll file an official complaint, I guess.)

I used to feel like, mostly, the folks in my department treated each other decently, and that somehow made the nastiness of the state government, the nastiness of state and local politics, the nastiness of administrative desperation... survivable. 

And now, I don't feel that.


  1. That sounds both really unpleasant and really inappropriate. I'd be upset too.

    Your chair ought to have at least promised to speak to the person.

  2. I would write a memo to the chair summarizing your conversation. THen there's a paper trail.
    But I'm sorry. Being stressed is not good for community.

  3. Gah, people can be so difficult!

    I have a colleague who has made my life very unpleasant at multiple times - we're a very bad combination in that a) he is a natural bully and I am very bulliable by loud, shouty, aggressive people and b) he is both insecure and has a variety of chips on his shoulder about various categories of people who have 'privilege he doesn't' and I fall into almost every one of those categories, so my very existence makes him worse...

    Anyway, after a particularly nasty 'if I could afford to I would WALK RIGHT NOW' couple of weeks in 2010, I decided that the best course of action was to minimise contact between this person and me. Spoke to head of department, took my name off the list for a couple of team teaching topics that I am qualified to teach but where we were likely to be team-assigned, made sure that our next office moves kept us unlikely to encounter each other during the day, backed out of some activities where he was also active. When my new head of department arrived, I made a point of giving him a brief background and explaining that life was MUCH better since I'd made this decision, and that even if 'on paper' it sometimes looked like I and Very Difficult Colleague should be assigned a task together, or be expected to be on the same committee, or be a natural pairing, would he please NOT DO THAT. He's in my field, he knew some of the back story before arriving (this colleague had done some of his bad behaving very publically, at conferences, and I was not his only target by any means).

    A couple months ago he asked "when are you going to get over this thing with [Colleague]?" Because he likes colleague, so clearly the problem is me. Not that he is colleague's BOSS, and MALE, and a few other categorical things that I am not, therefore Colleague has many reasons NOT to act badly towards him...

    All of which is to say, empathy! And GAH! People are so annoying!

  4. Ugh, how awful! (And how awful about JaneB's colleague also!) Why are people jerks?

  5. I'm so sorry that you're going through this. When you've apologized, that should be enough for a mature adult to get past the upset over a work-related misunderstanding. But academia is full of very petty personalities. It sounds as if this colleague is one of those types!

  6. Sounds like the "happy few" aren't holding together as a band of ... well, brothers or whatever. I'm sorry to hear about this. It sounds very familiar to me, unfortunately, especially the part about how if you could financially afford to resign you would. Been there, more often than not, for several years.