Thursday 12 March 2009

Just for the Record

A young finalist breezes into my office.
As she leaves I notice her well organised backpack.
With a pocket for a water bottle.
Students in my previous Department
did not use backpacks.
Which might explain why
they were always losing things.

This Professor can't stop to chat
because he has a conference call to Alaska.
It is a telephone-interview
for the Masters course.
I wonder if the candidate is smartly dressed
as they try to impress him from afar.

I discuss the arrangements with a PhD student
for a research trip to Vietnam.
We agree that it is unlikely that
rickshaw drivers will write receipts.

There is champagne in my office fridge
for the next PhD student
to celebrate a successful defence of their thesis.

It is such a pleasure to write an email which starts
Dear Dr....

Four of the best Post doctorate students in the Department
have come to the end of their research grants.
It is so difficult to say goodbye.

Waiting to hear if a grant application
has been successful
is nerve-wracking.
Grey skin and bags under the eyes
kind of nerve-wracking.
A young academic career hangs in the balance.

This young academic has just got his first job.
He shakes hands in a calm, courteous manner.
But as soon as he steps out of my office
he is surrounded by friends
rushing out of offices,
cheering, hugging him and each other
and hurrying him off to celebrate.

My Libyan expert is getting married next month.
He will be spending his honeymoon in Namibia
because he has 'always wanted to go there'.
I hope his wife-to-be enjoys travelling.

Little Rosa comes to see her daddy in his office.
I tell her about the little girl cousin
- also called Rosa -
who is very, very,very naughty.
Little Rosa's eyes grow large with delight.

I receive a special request for
next year's timetable.
I am delighted to be able to help.
I like to think that two children
can take it for granted that their father,
an eminent Professor,
will be home in time to supervise splashes and bubbles.

It is the people that you work with
that make the work worthwhile.


Christy said...

that last comment is so true. I would not have made it through the last two years of teaching without the support and encouragement and listening ears of the people I work with.

BreadBox said...

This is not haiku.
But that is irrelevant.
It serves a rather different
purpose than haiku.
And as such, is to be

Unknown said...

You're so right - there have been many times in the past almost three years when coming to grips with the complexities of the work or the mood swings of our Headteacher have almost had me reaching for my coat and keys to walk. But everyone else I work with made the job bearable and nowadays often fun.

trash said...

Who ever said eminent professors weren't smart? That man is teaching his children important lessons. Kudos to you for enabling him :-)

Eleanor said...

Oh, how I do ADORE "Just for the Record."

dottycookie said...

The grant writing, career in the balance thing is exactly the reason I quit academic research after an 18 month postdoc. I do not deal well with uncertainty.

As for the last comment, there can be no doubt that your colleagues would say precisely the same about you.

Anonymous said...

How true that last comment is, you are very lucky to work with such interesting people (but I realise you know that anyway).

Allison said...

What a great episodic peek into your day! I can only imagine the warmth you spread in that workplace. I certainly would be encouraged. I miss the many fantastic colleagues I have been privileged to share work with in the past!

Anonymous said...

You manage to capture so much in just a few sentences.

The Coffee Lady said...

I love these little glimpses of your world of work.

Ali said...

I love your department. But what of the enthusiastic academic? Because I feel a kinship.