Tuesday, January 31, 2006

 

Elephants (A Play in One Scene)

Scene: The Dean’s Office. A large elephant defecates calmly on the floor. The Dean attempts to address the elephant in the room with Prof. Ben Long-Tenured.

Dean: Thanks for coming, Ben.

Prof: Glad to, Dean. What’s on your mind?

Dean: Well, Ben, it’s the elephant. The smell is overpowering, and

Prof: Why wasn’t I told of this before?

Dean: Huh?

Prof: Why wasn’t I told of this before? I thought everything was fine! I have memos from you thanking me for showing up for (last official function)!

Dean: Yes, and I’m glad you showed up. But about the elephant...

Prof: What elephant?

Dean: The one in the room.

Prof: This is really about my (race/sex/age/sexual orientation/disability/religion), isn’t it?

Dean: Well, no, it’s really about the elephant.

Prof: You hesitated, didn’t you? Now I’ve got you. I’m going to file a complaint with HR.

Dean: To get to HR, you’ll have to step around the elephant.

Prof: You can rationalize it any way you want. This isn’t right.

Dean: The elephant isn’t right.

Prof: You’re too inexperienced for this job. It’s true what they say about you, you know.

Dean: This isn’t about me. This is about the elephant.

Prof: We’ve been working this way for twenty years, and nobody ever complained. Now you come in, sitting pretty, passing judgment without the facts.

Dean: Ben, the fact is, I’m knee-deep in elephant shit. There’s nothing pretty about it.

Prof: This isn’t right. You don’t know the history.

Dean: Well, the recent history involves a large elephant...

Prof: Twenty years! Does that mean anything to you?

Dean: Not nearly as much as the flies...

Prof: This is evil. You’re committing an evil deed. There’s evil in this world, you know. Bad consequences come to evildoers.

Dean: We disagree on that. Now, about the elephant...

Prof: What does (the VP) think about this?

Dean: He keeps asking me about the elephant. Also about my shoes.

Prof: The Administration doesn’t care. You people don’t know what it’s like.

Dean: (sigh)

Prof: When I started here, back in...

(Curtain)

Comments:
I love it!
 
Holy crap, this made me laugh so hard.
 
Brilliant, simply brilliant.
 
It ain't just academia, unfortunately.
 
See as an elephant has somehow parked in my office... this was just the remedy I needed.

One half Samuel Becket, one half Noel Coward.

Is it too early in the day for champagne to wash it all down?
 
you're my new online hero. that was perfect.
 
hilarious!
 
Bravo!!! Bravo!!!
 
And I want to become a professor... why??

Seriously laughing over here.
 
Good job turning a frustrating experience into an awesome blog!
 
I wonder if institutionalized solipsism like this comes about because many of our tenured faculty have never held non-academic jobs before. When one works for a company at any level, one gets used to thinking about how to sacrifice small petty desires in the name of larger interests. It's an amazing luxury that, in academia, we who teach rarely answer to anyone. Some of these people simply don't know how to do it. I wonder if this will change as fewer and fewer academics come from privileged backgrounds and more have had to work corporate at some point to pay the bills. It's weird that you can't learn Communist values in the most Communist institution in America.
 
This also sounds like a conversation between me and my admin assistant...
 
So I guess you're saying pachyderm poo prevents professors from progressing?

Sorry, I couldn't resist. (You shouldn't be so funny if you don't want me to alliterate :) )
 
Thank you for posting this. So, so true.
 
20 years in academia tells me this is nothing but the truth!
 
Wow. Two thumbs up. A must-see.

Didn't I hear this blog mentioned in the Academy Awards announcement thins morning for best short?

Seriously, brilliant.
 
I think I have that conversation at least once a week. Can I just print that out, laminate it, and hand it to pelple instead of having various versions of that conversation?
 
that's fantastic. hope the elephant doesn't eat you out of house and home.
 
Brilliant! Dean Dad, you've given a new meaning to the phrase "an elephant never forgets"... great blog!
 
You have considered the possibility that some senior faculty might perceive the source of the elephant poop differently?
 
The elephant is in my office, too! I am apparently in a mirror world, just a bit further south and west of your own. In fact, one faculty member has suggested that I am actually deandad writing this blog and only thinly disguising myself to avoid confrontation. On a day when faculty members are stomping about yelling at administrators and demanding action or legal papers will be filed, it is good to know that we aren't the only ones cleaning up after the apparently invisible pachyderms. Thanks for writing it down.
 
HAHA!! Fantastic!
 
When one works for a company at any level, one gets used to thinking about how to sacrifice small petty desires in the name of larger interests.

You mean like Ken Lay?

I don't know what company you work for, but my advice is, "Don't quit". Because not all of them are like that. Or everyone would have corner offices.
 
I gave up my aspirations to become a dean just about the time I finished my doctorate.

This blog reinforces that decision. Now I just want to do my mid-level job, be good at it, and not draw too much attention to myself in the process.
 
I'm trying to write a dissertation and I find THIS on the 'net? Yikes. The horror...

(Of course, if I were really writing I wouldn't have found it. Would I? Trouble either way.)
 
Oh lord...I can't TELL you the number of conversations I've had with senior (and bat-shit crazy) colleagues that follow this outline.

THANKS!
 
More like Ionesco, though the underlying issues are less serious...
 
Racism and other isms still exist big time and deans and their tenured falcuties stoke the fires quietly everyday...blocking many from confortable positions and income in quality envirenments. Funny piece yes, but mostly for those vested.
 
You forgot to refer it to the Elephant Committee... they don't do anything about it, they just discuss it. Of course, they haven't met in a few years, either, and their last set of recommendations are somewhere under that pile....
 
I was looking for this certain info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

 
On a day when faculty members are stomping about yelling at administrators and demanding action or legal papers will be filed.
 
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