Monday, October 10, 2005

Cube Troubles

I have used this space to moan about my cubicle in the past. Tomorrow, however, I am to be moved to the eighth floor, and all of a sudden I see this cubicle’s many advantages.

The most important of these is the fact that my cubicle is on the second floor of the building, while the department I work for is on the eighth. This means that all of my coworkers and superiors have been safely stowed away six floors above me. (Saying “coworkers and superiors” is probably redundant because all of my coworkers are superior. My boss once sketched out our department’s organizational chart. It showed him on the top with nine lines pointing to the other attorneys below him, and then nine more lines going from those attorneys to me.)

Anyway, the beauty of this arrangement was that if I wanted to leave work at 4:50 (er, noon) on a Friday (er, Monday) I was pretty much free to do so. Also, I have complained that in my present cubicle the people who work on my floor can see me scratching my nuts and they can smell the rancid effluvium of my large intestine when I feel the need to release it. I have gotten over my scruples in my few months here however, and I now scratch and fart with abandon. I feel free to do this because I don’t actually work with any of the people around me. Things will be different on the eighth floor. No more TomAy-style scratching for me.

I have been promised that an office on the seventh floor will soon be mine. This carrot has been dangled before me for months, but now I think it is being dangled in earnest. The building coordinator has assured me that he has found someone beneath me on the corporate ladder (I had no idea such a creature existed) and he is going to cast him into the snow in order to install me in his place.

The promised “office” is really little more than a cubicle with pretensions, but it will still be a step up. It will have a door and its walls go almost all the way up to the ceiling. I will be able to have loud conversations about the MLB Playoffs (er, the size of my morning dump) without every ear within a quarter mile listening in. Also, the door will allow me to scratch away! And, because the promised office is on the seventh floor I will be able to enjoy the occasional long lunch (er, go home at 11:30 and come back to work at 9:00 the next day).

Tom addzz: ohhhh, it's soooo nice when one canst scratch thyself freely. Then when that freedom shall be taken away (via patriot act), one shall hum that Cinderella song "Don't know what you got (till it's gone)," whilst feeling sad. So as for my own ass, an ass which is never one to be outdone, I shall describe my typical workday teaching a lab to college freshmen and sophmores.

Tom: Ok, kids, did everybody read their manuals before they came to lab today? Because you know, I have to quiz you on this today like I told all of you last week.
Student: I thought you told us that you would give it to us next week.
Tom: I'm pretty sure I did not tell you that.
Student 2 (a girl that never does her own work) : Yeah, that's right, you did tell us that. I didn't even come prepared today because I thought the quiz was in another week.
All students: Yeah! Yeah!
Student 3 (an 18 or 19 year old kid known to his Greek brothers as "Captain Hard On", which name he not only proudly wears emblazoned on his official fraternity attire (required to be worn on campus every Wednesday), but also the name as which others address him, simply "hard on" for short): Well I studied, but that's just because I didn't know for sure what you meant last week. I mean, it was all confusing and shit. You know?
All students: Yeah, no fair! You have to give us until next week!
Tom (world's worst authority figure): Ok, I'm sorry if I might have maybe, possibly miscommunicated the quiz date. Although when somebody says "next week" it usually means "one week from now." And of course somebody could have asked me to clarify if there was ever any doubt, you know. But I maybe could have been more specific, possibly. Well ok, the quiz will be next week then.
Next example:
Student (a girl that has been trying to get me alone since week 1. Cute but way too young. Ntm officially off-limits) : Hi, uh, Tom, can I come to your office when you're not too busy to get some help with my homework and, uh, just to brush up a bit before my test?
Tom (suddenly facing good angel and bad angel on either shoulder): uh, uhhhhhh. Well, uh, you see, I'm not a TA for your physics course, just the lab instructor, you see.
Student: Well, would you be willing to tutor me in your spare time? That is if you're not too busy and would like to. Or, I guess, maybe what I meant is just someone you might know who could.
Tom: Oh yeah, I know plenty. Just go outside on the bulletin board and you'll see lots of people offering tutoring.
Student: uh, ok, thanks.
Tom: yeah, anytime! And good luck to you!

There are many other tales from my teaching experience to tell, but just too many for this humble space beneath another sweet post from Noay. But I will say that sometimes when I find myself helping a group of students who cannot communicate what they're doing without using cuss words, it's been known to happen sometimes that I get caught up in the moment and reciprocate the cussing while explaining something to them. This is what makes me the the "cool teacher" that gets glowing reviews from the students on the end-of-semester teacher evaluation sheets that they fill out. And to think of that poor foreign kid who gets KILLED on those same evaluation sheets simply because he cannot abide with dopey american kiddos, but who really, really prepares his labs with extra effort and tries to communicate the lesson/concepts to reach the students as best he can. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.
Noah Adds: Damn kids these days. What the hell's wrong with the little bastards? When I was a TA I had a girl complain when I gave her a C on an essay exam. "I was gone on the day that the Professor lectured on the Opium War" she explained. But it was the easy kind of essay test where the professor gives you the option of answering any one of five questions. I so I asked her why she didn't answer one of the questions she had been in class for. Apparently, that test-taking strategy had not occured to her. Answer a question I know something about? Hmm, that's so crazy it just might work! Damn kids!
We need to reintroduce corporal punishment at the college level. TomAy, just wail a little sense into them. The future of America is on your stout shoulders!
Also, my cube is even worse than I thought. The printer is right behind the opening (you know you have a shitty situation when you have an "opening" and not a door) and everytime it is used I feel like the person using it is gazing at the back of my head and attempting to determine if my hair is thinner today than it was yesterday. (No! it is not!)
TommAy: Noay, the solution to your problem comes in two words: Copymachine guy! So, if you become the new copymachine guy (ala Rob Sneider, but more even more meddlesome and funny only to yourself), you will add a new dynamic to your workday, and not to mention to your meaning of life.

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