Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rising Blood Pressure

I went to campus today to get a book that I may need to read at some point, and so I walked by where "they" are putting in a new parking lot. The lot will replace a small part of the parking being lost to where we're putting a new building (our first in lo these many years). But it won't replace much of the parking, just the metered parking (short term for folks who don't have any permit).

We have two non-student sorts of parking permits on campus, the regular folks and the OMG I have to be able to park permits. The OMG permits are supposed to be reserved for folks whose work includes doing off-campus stuff so that they need to be able to get parking on campus at whatever time. For example, people who supervise student teachers need to be able to park when they return. The rest of us can just get to campus early and not leave until late. At least that's the thinking.

The OMG permits are set up for specific lots, and there's a reserved place in each lot for each permit holder. They also cost more, though the cost of the regular folks' permit has doubled since I came. (No, my paycheck hasn't doubled. Hmmm.)

"They" have decided to double the OMG permit places in the lot where I park; between that and the regular folks displaced by the construction from their usual parking places, we'll be extra crowded. Not to worry, though, "they" tell us, because you can always park in an away lot. It's only a couple blocks more to walk. And that's true.

But, you know, I'm willing to bet that "they" will have OMG permits and be parking in the lot near my building.

In the past, to be pretty darned sure of getting a space in the parking lot near my building, I had to be on campus by 8am. I'm guessing this next year is going to see a lot more early arrival.

Here's the thing. Yes, it's only a couple more blocks to walk. But that's a couple more blocks when it's 10F and there's ice, and I have the Riverside Chaucer to carry along with a set of 30 papers.

That and, I'll admit it here: I'm a Californian. I didn't teeth on a silver spoon; I teethed on car keys. I'm at least a third generation Californian through every grandparent, and a fourth or fifth through a couple. (So when I complain about winter, you have to realize that my ancestors hit the east coast of the US and headed west until they could go no further because there was water. And rip tides. If it weren't for the rip tides, I could have been born on the Farallons. Not really, but you get the idea.)

You know that scene in the Steve Martin movie about LA where he drives his car to visit the house next door? That's just logical to me. I see nothing wrong with that. But walking when you're in the suburbs? Bleargh. Double Bleargh. (I have no problem walking in Japan or in a big city, or riding my bike in the middle of no where. Everywhere else, I drive.

There I was, walking to and from the library, and getting increasingly cranky about the idea of walking. (I know: it's not about logic.)

I want to go into a meeting next week where the administrator of the moment asks us to make suggestions about how to make things better, and I want to suggest that all administrators should have their OMG spots in the away lot. But you know that won't happen.

But what I really need to do is just not go to some of those meetings next week.

I need to not go to the meeting where I'll stare at the deer ass on the wall and think about the sexist jokes about violence against women.

I need to not go to the meeting where the headmaster will thank all the local bigshots for supporting his favorite sport and tell us how wonderful his wife is as a [sport] mom, because that's the best thing ever for a woman to do, be a [sport] mom.

I need to not go to the meeting where the crazy administrator will unload on us for being "local yokels."

I need to not go to the meeting where the administrator who makes decisions with his buds on his porch drinking single malt scotch will hold forth about how wonderful it is that we've all taken a 3% paycut.

I need some good excuses, folks.

I will go to the meeting where we try to decide about departmental searches. And I'll go to other meetings where useful decisions might be made or information shared.

But this year, I need to skip things that don't contribute to my doing a better job or being happier.

I need some good excuses, folks, because I could feel my blood pressure rising.


  1. OK, I'm going to make a really radical suggestion here. How about . . . no excuse, just don't go? And if anyone asks, say vaguely, "Oh, I couldn't make it. How did things go?"

    Now I'm going to be trapped tomorrow in a meeting I don't want to be in because it takes place in the same room, immediately after one I have to be present for and before another one ditto . . . I'm wondering if I could manage a really long bathroom break. I am developing a seriously bad attitude about meetings, myself.

    And I hear you on the winterizing Californians bit, though in my part of the state, we did walk. But when it's 10 degrees outside, I'd drive next door, too. If I could get the car to start.

  2. Need an excuse to miss a meeting? Say you couldn't find parking. Ta da!

    But seriously folks.

    Yeah, I get the California/driving/winter-hating thing. I grew up with winter (in Indiana), and still had trouble living with the kind of winter we had in Milwaukee. Now THAT is cold. Brr.

  3. Urgh. Those meetings sound maddening, let alone the issue with parking.

    A virus is always a handy excuse. You could tell them that you had something like the still-undiagnosed virus I had a year ago this month. Afflicted me with all-over short-term arthritis. I was going NOWHERE and so could you!

    Good luck with all of this craziness. Fortunately, we're not summoned to any big meetings outside of our departments when term starts up.

  4. I'm with Fie: "Sorry, but I couldn't attend because there was no parking available."

    If you do go, you could make jokes to yourself about how they've mounted the wrong part of the deer on the wall. But just don't go.

  5. You could always claim a migraine. Because frankly, those meetings will give you one anyhow.

  6. If there is nothing you have to contribute at the meeting (and it doesn't sound as if there is) I'd skip it. And if anyone asks, you couldn't make it (though it would be fun to say you couldn't find parking.)

    Parking IS the third rail of academic administration.

  7. Anonymous8:27 AM

    "I'm sorry. I have a prior commitment."

    And, in fact, you do. A commitment to your own sanity and well-being!

    And if they are so rude to ask you what it is, you can respond, "I'm sorry, but I really don't feel comfortable discussing it with colleagues."

    Let them think about what that might mean!

  8. Can't get over the deer ass.
    *blink blink blink*
    Is that real?

    And I'm so grateful for the other commenters' suggestions about how to not go to a meeting gracefully. Will be adopting promptly.

  9. "previous obligation" is always good. and it's not even a lie, since your priority is sanity, and attending to the things where you have to show up and can make a difference.

    feeling a migraine is good for when you go anyway, and need to escape. also not an outright lie.

    i'm also californian and a wimp. walked my way through college, but it was a smallish campus, and no snow. i seriously don't even know how to deal with snow. parking a distance while needing to lug things through winter sounds dismal. have they considered a shuttle? sled-shares? pack-reindeer? you could get by with a roller-bag if not for the snow.

  10. I've gotten much better at missing meetings that are guaranteed to drive me batty. Excuses I have offered:
    "Oh dear, I have another commitment that day/time."
    "So sorry but I just can't make it this time."
    "I'm afraid I have another obligation during our meeting time."
    "I have an unavoidable conflict tomorrow."

    Of course, most of the time I was offering those excuses, I was actually at the doctor - side benefit of cancer, I suppose - but they work just as well now!