Saturday, April 3, 2010

The iniquities of the selfish

Seriously, WTF is wrong with committee members sometimes?  The one I recruited for my diss committee specifically because I thought zi would be kindly and low-maintenance has turned into such a fucking prima donna that I can barely get my mind around it.  Check this out.

So, we have to have five members on a diss committee, three of whom must be within the department.  The other two on mine, as it happens, are both at other universities, on opposite coasts.  (Planning is an impressively complicated undertaking.)  One of them, Dr. Sweetie, is a lovely person and a senior academic who now has a cushy full professor gig; the other, Dr. Junior, is also a lovely person (as I thought, anyway) and a junior academic -- zi is the lowest-ranked member of my committee.  I've probably mentioned this before, but Junior was in fact a fellow graduate student in class with me: zi and I were in one of Dr. Chair's seminars together my first year.

When the time came to send out my dissertation to everyone, Sweetie said that zi would be happy to get a PDF via email.  Junior, though, started pulling this pretentious bullshit by insisting on a paper copy.  Paper?  When you already have the PDF?  Ugh, fine.  I had to print paper copies for the profs close to hand anyway, so I printed one more, had it bound, and shipped to Junior via Priority Mail to hir department office, as instructed.  I even ordered tracking and insurance for the retail cost of the bound copy, just in case.

And it didn't get to Junior.  USPS tells me that the package was delivered on Wednesday, but Junior never got it.  To shorten an already long story somewhat, I slowly pieced together that Junior foolishly asked me to mail the copy to hir during hir university's spring break, and the offices shut early for the weekend.  Junior's university, much like DOU, is a huge place, and no doubt has a central mail office that receives USPS packages and distributes them among the departments as needed.  Which means it's there, but it's inaccessible until after the weekend (at least). 

Junior's response is to ask that I overnight hir another copy, so zi "can get started reading over the weekend." 

Mother. Fucker.

I don't believe for a goddamned minute that zi is really going to devote a Sunday almost three weeks before the defense to perusing my dissertation.*  No one does that.  This is just a stupid fucking power play to make me pay due respect to a committee member on an ego trip.  Come Monday, that office is going to re-open, and Junior is going to get the Priority Mail package.  But that, it seems, is not good enough for Junior.

I was so steamed when I got this request that I went to the chair of my department and consulted on this question of protocol: did I seriously have to print, bind and mail another copy via overnight delivery to Junior, when zi already has the PDF and the first copy is probably on its way?  The chair smiled and said, "You already know the answer to this question.  It's not fair, it's obnoxious, but just do it."

God damn it.  Fine.  At least this time I was smart enough to mooch a printed copy out of our grad student lounge** so I wouldn't have to pay another $20 to the copy shop.  I ground my teeth all the way to the post office.

Printing and binding cost of copy #1: $25.00
Mailing cost of copy #1:                       12.50
Binding cost of copy #2:                         5.00
Mailing cost of copy #2:                       32.60

Object lesson in the preferability of dealing with fragile-egoed assistant professors: priceless.***

* Granted, Junior isn't a native speaker of English, but zi is also a graduate of DOU and has a fancy-pants Assistant Professorship at a big university.  I happen to know first-hand that zi is pretty well conversant with academic writing in the English language.  I call bullshit.
** Okay, fine, if you want the truth, I printed two copies, so I could have one as well for the defense.  Don't you dare judge me for this.
*** My dear readers who are themselves assistant professors are begged to take no offense at this statement.  Clearly, not every young prof is as much of a diva as Junior.


  1. That sucks! Soon, soon it will all be over and you won't have to deal with this person any more. OTOH, it will make a funny story over drinks after the defense.

    How much longer until the big day?

  2. Mere weeks! It's actually -- gasp -- two weeks from tomorrow. Holy crap.