Okay, as some of you know, I work 50% (though currently 80%) time at a graduate assistant position at my university. It’s not a bad job, though it can be both mind-numbingly dull at the same time it’s also very very stressful. This is one of the stressful times as I try and complete paperwork so that students can graduate on time.
They have a lot riding on their degrees posting. This I know. I don’t just know it because I’m really smart and perceptive, but because I get at least one call every 15-20 minutes where someone uses the phrase "it’s really important that I graduate on time." This is then followed by their life story, told so breathlessly I can’t stop them without interrupting them. They’re either:
- about to leave the city/state/country, never to return
- don’t want to leave the country, but need their degree to post before their INS interview
- must be a PhD before they return to their home country or they’ll be inducted into the military (no, really, this one is for real).
- have landed their dream tenure-track job but must have a PhD in less than 5 days or the job will be taken away (this, so far, has never been found to be true)
- must have their degree post by the end of the week or they’ll be paid on an "acting" professor scale (this is usually the case when they claim 4).
I don’t mean to sound harsh about this. I mean, I want them to graduate on-time too. However, if my entire life were riding on my degree being processed and posted by mid August, I wouldn’t wait to submit my paperwork until the very last day (when we receive more than 1/2 of the term’s almost 300 student files). It’s not brain surgery or anything, but there’s lots of bits of paper and signatures and the like that need to be stamped, verified and then entered into the computer database (making the process electronic means that something that used to take 20 minutes can now take up to 2 hours).
So against this background we have two really special people who have been named Mr. Chivalry and the Thoughtful Granddaughter.
I’ve never met either of these individuals. Mr. Chivalry apparently has a job that’s so important he needed to send his wife to run around campus and collect all his needed paperwork and signatures. In 100+ degree heat. While she was (at least) nine months pregnant. She’d rush into the office, holding paperwork in one hand, the other resting on the small of her back. My boss and I agreed that with each day that passed (because of course paperwork over the summer involves a lot of chasing down elusive faculty) we could see the baby dropping. We were afraid she was going to give birth to her child on the floor of the lobby.
Meanwhile her husband was apparently at work in an air conditioned office and busy calling her to find new forms he’d "forgotten" to fill out over the 5 years he’d been getting his doctorate. When we questioned why he wasn’t doing any of this errand running, she explained that he hadn’t wanted to ask for a half day off and waste a vacation day — he could have done in an afternoon what it took her a week of running to and fro — in order to fill out and file paperwork. She, as he apparently had pointed out, was already off work anyway. Her being 9 months pregnant didn’t seem to enter into his calculations.
We encouraged her to seriously consider single motherhood.
Thoughtful Granddaughter I know less about. But apparently she’s Very Important (at least in her own mind) and chose to send her grandfather to do her paperwork on her behalf. Her grandfather, who is at least 90 if he’s a day. Her grandfather, who has an English vocabulary of less than 50 words and who was left to wander the campus dazed and bewildered. Also in over 100 degree heat. His granddaughter, I eventually figured out, was on her honeymoon.
I finally ended up walking him around campus and explaining at each location what he needed, buying him bottles of water so he wouldn’t stroke out in front of me. Heaven help this chick if she ever shows her face around here. By the end of the day I wanted to throttle her.
They’ve been signed off, the both of them. Because it’s very important that they graduate on time.
Besides, I just don’t ever want to hear from either of them again.