26 August 2008

Tomorrow's Another Year?

Ah yes. Tomorrow. Haven't dreaded an upcoming day so much in a long time. Well, what's coming next will last for another year, at the most.

After the exchange I had with the department chair yesterday, I don't know how I'm going to get in front of my students and, with a straight face, emphasize the importance of following directions. Or of just about anything else I might do with them in the classroom.

You see, I followed directions and then this department chair accused me of "going over" her "head." All I did was to follow the usual protocol, in this case for changing my name (Justine Valinotti will now be my primary name on all college-related documents and other materials.). I went to the department secretary, just like we're told to do. I filled out a form; she filled out another and told me to bring them to the college's human resources and payroll offices. That I did.

While at the HR office, I asked about my health benefits. Since I am switching from one payroll system to another, even though I'm remaining in the same college (Go figure that one out.), I thought I might have to fill out paperwork to make sure my benefits are continued in my new position.

The person in charge of benefits said she had no record of my being hired. That might've made sense, as I was hired later than the other new full-time faculty members. But then she asked whether the department had sent a PAF (Personnel Action Form, which makes new appointees official and puts them on the payroll). I didn't know, so she called the chair of my department.

Well, I got an earful from the department chair, who was convinced that I went over her head. I politely explained that I followed protocol, and that perhaps I had gotten some improper insruction somewhere along the chain.

"Well, you never go over my head," she huffed.

Once again, I very politely gave her my sincerest reassurance that I would never, ever dream of doing such a thing, and that I followed the normal procedure, which begins with the department secretary. Again, she insisted that I go to her first "for anything."

"Well, I followed instructions. That's what we always tell our students to do. And look where it got me."

"Well, I'm sorry you feel that way. Just remember to..."

"I know...Come to you first." "Yes" "And I'll try very hard to keep a straight face when I tell the freshmen how important it is to follow instructions."

The compliance officer insists that this treatment has absolutely nothing to do with you being who you are. (If it talks in code like a white liberal...It must be a white liberal!) Of course she'd say that. What else would someone who wants to protect her record for not having a discrimination lawsuit on her watch say?

Well, far be it from me to break her record. Don't want her record sullied. Instead, let's ruin mine. What the hell....I lived on pure and simple mendacity for the first 45 years of my life. What's another year in the classroom?

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