Tenured Radical posted today on a CHE column on firings in academia, which reminded me of my own dream of last night:
I opened up my paycheck receipt. Inside, there was a receipt for a deposit of about one-fourth my normal pay. Typed below it were four lines, from the provost, informing me that this would be my last paycheck. Because of financial difficulties, my position was determined to be "impacted," and thus subject to elimination to save the university money.
"But I'm only a month away from tenure!" I thought.
Now, this might be just another hilarious incident of my subconscious messing with me, expressed in some bizzare dream format. And we could all say "ha-ha, isn't that funny; thank god it's only a dream." I mean really: a good employee, up for promotion, then suddenly fired? And by a four-line note from someone who's never met you, slipped into your paycheck? So improbable as to be ridiculous, right?
Except, you know, for most people, it's totally not. This is exactly how it comes down. In the morning, they go off to the job they've held for six months or six years; in the afternoon they come home unemployed, with no warning, and no backup plan. And the fact that it's not personal -- well doesn't that make it worse somehow? Someone who's never met you flips a switch, and you're gone. That it's not even about you is just dehumanizing. You're just an "impacted" area.
Sometimes, I can't wrap my mind around the sadness and pointless stupidity of it all. A little human dignity, even in the worst of circumstances: can't we manage that?