Background: While I am pursuing my PhD, I work as the program assistant for an academic department (unrelated to my field of study) on campus. From this job I get an unparalleled view of the workings of higher ed (snort), and free tuition. Oh, and health insurance.
So, that said, I am seriously annoyed by people today. These guys who work in the campus bookstore just came by, ostensibly to bring around a printout of what courses for fall don’t have books ordered yet. The one guy acted all “hey, old friend! how are you?” I think I’ve met him, um, once? and he called me by a name that was not my name, not at all. Like, Yardley. YARDLEY. Because Yardly and Yancy sound so similar?? Like my name isn’t WRITTEN ON MY DOORPLATE. And, of course, it turns out that they don’t have the printout for me after all, but, “we’ll be back!” he chirped.
This whole exchanges annoys me on several levels:
(1) WRONG NAME, asshat. If you aren’t sure, don’t guess on someone’s name.
(2) You forgot the printout??
(3) Email the freakin’ thing, for god’s sake; why were you walking a copy all the way over to me anyway?
(4) DON’T email it, because if the book order for a certain course wasn’t turned in back in May, it’s not going to be ready until August with the profs come back. Yes, that’s late. But making all kinds of changes to how books are ordered, like moving the deadlines up into MARCH for fall semester courses, is OBVIOUSLY not making any difference to the profs who select the books. All I can do is pass on the orders, and harass the profs to get them in sooner. Which, we all know isn’t going to happen. Multiple emails a week, several phone calls & a personal visit isn’t going to make it happen faster. You are not going to change the culture of the faculty members who just do not get their sh*t together in time to order books in March. Let’s just agree that that is NOT going to happen and save me AND YOU a bunch of wasted effort, and instead concentrate on getting a book supply system where 3 weeks is enough time to order books. Cause, hey, if Amazon can get me and 50 gazillion other customers our book order in under 3 weeks, for less money than the bookstore charges, then you should be able to handle getting book orders done in August.
I just keep telling myself that my time spent here will be incredibly valuable once I’m a professor, as I’ll have first-hand knowledge of the trials that administrative staff go through. And, once I’m in a position of power, I will be able to tell the faculty to do their own freakin’ travel reimbursements, because “program assistant” does not mean “your personal secretary.” I’ll also tell them that if they use the term secretary one more time, I’ll shove a giant 2009 calendar up their arse, because it’s not 1959 anymore.