Friday, October 24, 2008
In implementing the current round of budget cuts, the first task has been to get every example of a few categories of expense on a single list, so we can prioritize. This is harder than you might think. I've already had several meetings that have gone pretty much like this:
DD: “Okay, so now we finally have everything, right?”
Colleague 1: “Right.”
DD: “Good. So our total is...”
C1: “Wait! What about [bizarre, byzantine exception]?”
C1: “That started several years ago, when [long-gone admin] told [litigious tenured prof] that if he did [something he didn't want to], he would get [plum] every [so often]”
C2: “My area does that differently. We do the plums twice as often!”
C3: “And I stopped giving them out two years ago, based on a conversation with [other long-gone admin]”
C1: “Is that why [other tenured prof] is always complaining about unequal treatment?”
Repeat for several hours, until the living envy the dead.
Every time we turn over a rock, something nasty and slimy and awful crawls out. Worse, the nasty thing manages to dislodge another rock.
The long-term good news, I keep telling myself, is that eventually we'll run out of rocks. Eventually, all the nasty and slimy stuff will be exposed, and we can get a handle on it and move forward. And replacing all the slimy stuff with transparent and aboveboard arrangements will be more sustainable, once we overcome the inertial resistance.
That's what I keep telling myself.
But I'll admit, at the end of a day like this, it's a stretch. There's just an amazing number of rocks out there, and it's tiring. And each little slimy discovery mounts its own defense.
It it really still only October?
But look on the bright side: Sometimes you can put the rock back on the slime and someone else WILL deal with it in time.