“Working” 9-5, What a Way to Make a Living

Is there anything better after a day of meetings than coming back to the room around 8:30 pm and taking offl those shoes you’ve been wearing since 7:30 am? Make a drink. Relax by flipping through the meaningless cable channels. Make another drink. Realize cable tv isn’t what it used to be but knowing you will watch garbage here you wouldn’t be caught dead seeing at home. “Impact Wrestling!” Whoo, whoo!

I’m not arguing that I’m doing hard labor here and I really should have hit the streets to learn more about Indianapolis. There’s supposed to be this great little place about 2 miles from here called the Three Sisters Cafe. I want to walk down there tonight, but yesterday was a full day. I know that the guys working on the street at 7:00 am in the 29 degrees cold have it tougher. I’m not asking anyone to cry me a river. But, still. Sitting around for 8 hours listening to people talk, that’s tough. Networking all day. Being nice, wearing that business meeting smile.   That’s brain tired. Exhausting. Somedays I long to be 13 again so I can just have a meltdown in public and everyone will just explain it away as raging hormones. This is what we sacrifice when we represent a company or univesity. And it’s enough to make one wonder why we try at all.

And last night hitting the bricks wasn’t happening. 8 hours of meetings followed by a banquet honoring four student athletes whose accomplishments make Mother Theresa look like a slacker. (Imagine, then, what us mortals feel like?)

The kid who was a four year starter in cross country, two national championships, a college record, and a neuroscience major. I guess he studied while running all those miles. The woman headed to medical school after various swimming championships, volunteers at schools, raises money for charity, and generally offers hope to those of us who think the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

Even so, I don’t like banquets. There’s almost always more speeches than my bladder can handle and I don’t really want to walk out in the middle of a speech. So I sit. And fidget like a 6 year old after drinking a coke. And I wait. When your body hurts, you can eat the pain. When you are tired, you can stand up and get the blood flowing. When your bladder is full, there’s not a lot you can do but pray the speaker talks fast.

But sometimes it’s worth the crossed legs and long sit. A couple of weeks ago at Angelo State, we hosted the Holland Symposium on American Values. Jeffrey Lyons, film critic and journalist, was our key note speaker. Lyons’ father was a journalist in New York who wrote a column for 40 years. 1000 words a day about movers and shakers like Hemingway, DiMaggio, Bogart, etc. Jeffrey pulled those columns together for The Lyons Den: Stories My Father Told Me. Good book. Worth reading.

At a reception the night before the symposium, Angelo State’s Studio One, a group of about 10 students who perform short pieces, did a 20 minute “History of Film.” After the performance, I told the audience that all those critics of higher ed need to come watch things like this. Those kids prove we are doing our job. People worried about our country need to watch those kids. They are the future and it looks pretty good.

Last night was the same way. Sure, there are some awful kids out in the world, just like there are some awful grown ups. And yes–there are bad college students, annoying students, and kids who never learn. But then there are these kids. And the faculty in the room who live, not for their own success, but to revel in the accomplishments of these kids. There was the coach a few years ago who drove down to a ceremony the night before a national championship game. The faculty members who flew home last night to teach classes today. I know you don’t read about them in the paper, but they are out there. Every day.

It’s easy to focus on the negative every day. That’s what we read about in the paper. “If it bleeds, it leads” the old news adage goes. We need to remember somedays what’s not in the newspaper. Kids like these. Sure, the level to which they succeeded is unusual, but it’s not unusual that our universities produced kids who succeeded.

We might all do well to remember that when we finally sit to rest at the end of the day.

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About John Wegner
John Wegner is a Professor of English where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven't ever needed bail money.

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Things I Read

And Things I Learned

Washington Monthly

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Joanne Jacobs

Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs

Inside Higher Ed

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

NYT > Politics

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Balloon Juice

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Scott Adams' Blog

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

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