All right, folks. Since most of my readers seem to have found my last post earnest enough to induce a diabetic coma (I yam what I yam, people, and make no apologies for it), I thought I'd post something brief in the more typical woe-is-me vein. So here it is: I'm fucking tired of sharing an office.
Now, office-sharing is typical when we're graduate TAs. Not great, but typical. My 10-by-10 grad office was shared with two other TAs, in the sub-basement of a "sick building" complete with asbestos, exploding plumbing, wildly canted floors and ceilings, and, ominously, a health survey sent out by campus lawyers a few years ago asking if any of us had experienced certain cancers or respiratory conditions. But at the risk of invoking the old "rank hath its privileges" thing, I assumed that I would have my own office when I got a tenure-track job.
Not so. I have shared my 8-by-12 office every year since I've been here.** None of my office-mates has been obnoxious, but one was a compulsive hoarder, and one semester I shared with two people, rather than the normal one. This year, my office-mate has a class schedule exactly the same as mine. So, with his mandatory student conferences this week, I find myself typing this post from an on-campus coffee shop, where I'm holding my regularly scheduled office hours. And the asbestos and capricious plumbing are still a part of my life -- though at least I have a window now. What makes it worse is that there are serious inequities in this respect. I'm not the only one sharing an office, but the way that the solo-office privilege is distributed seems to be utterly random, and sometimes downright weird.
Was I hopelessly naïve to think I'd get a room of my own once I hit the big time (that is, the tenure track)? How common is this?
And yes, I have mentioned it to my chair. And there have been noises, but nothing happens. On the other hand, part of the reason that it doesn't happen is me. For example, my chair offered to move my office-mate, but only when it was already the middle of the semester. I thought this would have been was unnecessarily burdensome to both instructor and students, so I gave it a pass. I think that was the right call, but I also think it may have given Chair the impression that, since that, I wasn't willing to evict my office-mate mid-semester, it wasn't that big a deal.
But it kind of is a big deal. If I could have an office of my own, it wouldn't solve all my problems. But it would be a start.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go: the coffee shop is filling up, and several students are eyeing my table.
**The only year I've had my own office was the year I was on fellowship leave. In other words, I had to get another university to give me an office. And let me tell you, it was amazing how much more work I got done.