5 Questions Posed by an Itinerant Professor to the Universe

Ok, I admit it. I’ve been bad and neglecting my blog. In my defense, I’ve moved schools yet again and my schedule has been up in the air. I also took a vacation this year (*gasp*). That’s right, a bone fide, no-laptop, no-work, no-conference vacation. And I don’t even feel bad about it. So there!

Anyway, I hereby pledge to do my best to better maintain this site with my usual balance of sarcasm and the occasional sincere reflection. Today, I’m leaning towards sarcasm, so here it is: the five questions I have for the universe after my first day back.

  1. Why is the computer console in every classroom (not to mention every school) different, and why can I never find the sound?

No, really. WTF? There is absolutely no way not to look like the stereotypical, absent-minded professor on the first day of class unless you have come in the day before, broken into a classroom that should be locked, and dissected the AV equipment while anxiously checking to make sure that security isn’t about to throw you out.

“Where is the remote? Oh wait, this one has no remote! Ok, well, how the hell do I turn the projector on?” These are the words I mumble wildly to myself while randomly pressing buttons, like a group of children who’ve found an unknown object and decide to poke it with a stick. “Oooohhhhh… that’s how it works,” I mutter, until I realize that I still don’t know where the volume is. This scenario inevitably continues to play itself out, until some kind soul in the back row shouts: “the volume is on the wall!” I say “thank you,” humbled, and defeated. So why, dear universe, can you not standardize this things, or at the very least, send me a manual in advance?

  1. Who designed this building, and why do I feel like I’m in a labyrinth about to be eaten by a Minotaur?

Ok, so, technically I already know the answer to this question. In some cases (and I will pretend to be the mature adult and not name names), buildings were actually intentionally designed to confuse people. In the wake of the 1960s, and the eruption of student protests that characterized those years, some campus buildings were actually created with riot control in mind and designed to divide people and keep them disoriented. In other cases, like a medieval cathedral, the school just kept adding more and more wings as they got more money and needed more space… until all hope for sanity or coherence was lost. Either way, every time I start somewhere new I feel hopeless and alone, and I can never find the bathroom.

  1. Why are there so many lost people (other than me, of course)?

Ironically, despite being a teacher and loving my job, I don’t really like other human beings a lot of the time. This is particularly true when I’m already stressed, lost, and seriously under-caffeinated. So tell me, oh powers that be, why there have to be so many other people in my space while I turn in circles trying to distinguish the F-wing from the A-wing and wondering why I can’t find either one.

  1. Is there something special about my clothing on day one that guarantees that I will drop coffee and various foodstuffs all over myself?

Confession time. I’m teaching night school this year, so I have to eat dinner before I run off to class, and I may have eaten the most offensively garlicky meal ever in a small, communal office this evening. My office mates probably didn’t appreciate it, and if I recall, I don’t think I had the forethought to warn them or the grace to apologize. So to anyone else who was in my space at around 6pm today: I’m sorry.

But, just because I am an ignorant sod, with no regard for those working around me, do I really need to wear the remnants of my meal as a badge of my shameful behavior, so that all the world can judge? Granted, I end up dribbling things down the front of white blouses with amazing frequency all the time, but it seems like the odds of me wearing my latte are unusually high on day 1. So, I would like the universe to explain if there is indeed a special magnetic attraction between any outfit worn on the first day of teaching and the food or beverage I am trying to get into my mouth.

  1. Which codes get me into what system, and what am I even doing right now anyway?

This year I have a door code, a computer code, a copy code, and a variety of other numbers attached to my name: significantly fewer codes than normal but enough to drive me insane nonetheless! And since I’m an historian, I simply cannot content myself by putting all these things in a note on my iPhone –let’s face it, I’m never going to remember all that shit – so I have a series of post-it notes attached to my phone, wallet, laptop, binder, and whatever else has a reasonably inviting surface. My things look ruffley, and may even take flight. So really, at this point, all I want to know from the universe is what numbers and letters you would like me to input because I’ve long-since lost track? Well, actually, I also need to know where? And maybe when?