…and it is the last time, since I am not giving anyone the benefit of the doubt again. One keeps hearing about how assistant professors are mistreated but what about the one I got the job for, and got housing for, and who then, in his first year at the university, left said housing crawling with vermin, saying sorry, he had been too busy to clean because of his important life? and that he would not pay to have the place cleaned since in his view, cleaners were overcharging? He rose to Full and to an endowed chair very quickly.
…what about the one who started calling me at home at night in his first year, calls I did not understand but that moved me to get caller ID, and that one of the instructors I told about it explained to me had been booty calls? to the person who had gotten him the job, ¿qué tal? He got tenure soon, and got away with sending hate mail to other faculty as well.
…the latest one is not in either of my departments, but he is in an allied one, in an interdisciplinary program I want to support. He did not make 4th year review, which I do not think was a good decision on the part of those who made it because he is a good scholar and teacher and he is enthusiastic, hard-working and smart. Still, this is what he did:
+ gave hyperbolized information to me for our grant proposal, such that the evaluators were able to say we were overshooting (and we really were, since this person and his other colleague were both riding for a fall) . . . this did not reflect well upon me;
+ concealed from me information about what was happening with his field study program, such that I recruited for it without realizing it was obviously going to be shut down for safety reasons; I would never have directed students in that direction had I known what was going on, and it was inconvenient for them to have the program canceled at the last minute.
This year, we had a major speaker, that is to say my colleague invited a major speaker, and I assisted him with logistics. I was interested in the event but it was really his. As plans were being made and paperwork was being done I had to resist the child’s attempts to delegate everything to me. He also failed to do things, for instance, he failed to get a good room for the talk. This was because he e-mailed a random staff person who was instructed to say no always since the room is requested by all too many people already, and he took no for an answer. He could not be bothered to walk over and talk to the faculty person in charge of the room, express deep appreciation, promise a return of the favor, and so on, which is what must be done; so, at the last minute I had to drop what I was doing and do it.
Then, the honorarium got stuck in the business office and the child dealt with it by e-mailing a student worker. He could not be bothered to walk over to the business office, or to tell me what was going on. He actually told the speaker that I was not interested in resolving the problem: I, who have brought over twenty speakers to this university, all of whom have received their honoraria; I, who did a lot of work toward the visit of this speaker, I was not interested in resolving the problem of the honorarium.
Then he told the speaker that he was leaving the university and there was nothing more he could do. So the speaker finally e-mailed me and was surprised to discover that I was willing, in the middle of finals week, to spend a day with the business office tracking down paperwork and having the lost parts redone.
And still the child has the gall to tell me he had the impression I was not interested in making sure the man received his honorarium. And I spent a full day getting this done in May when I could have done in December, and the person would not have had to wait so long.
I am writing about this as part of my anti-advice manual. When professors tell graduate students to be incredibly careful and act right, I think what they mean is not to act like this. The rest of us, who never would act like this, tend to think the urgent advice to behave means we have to be truly, truly obedient. But really, it only means one should not act like this.
Coda: if I wrote an esperpento about these characters, I think I might name them, in reverse order: El Niño, El Desgraciado, and Flora. How do you like these names?