It wasn't the first time I was at University that I met Betsy, it was the first time that I went BACK to school.
Looking back over my lifetimeago, I've returned to school several times. Be it my incessant need to stuff more knowledge into my brain, to explore the mysteries of old and new things or to learn new skills, I've gone back to school during at least three major periods in my life. Each time was for good reason, and each experience gave me the tools necessary to adapt to our ever-changing world.
Along the way, among the most meaningful memories and relationships that I developed while at WSU was the one I found with Betsy.
Thirty minutes into one of the longest, driest classes known to humans (you know, you've had those occasions - either at a seminar, a meeting or in this case, a lecture - where you are so mind numbingly bored that you would swear to two things: 1) time ceased to exist and you were trapped in place for all of your remaining moments and 2) you could swear that you were a test subject for a new form of punishment.)
Back to the mummifying lecture, as my eyes and interest began to wander, all of a sudden an arm was raised as though to ask a question. Only there was something odd about it. The arm was straight up in the air, but the hand fell limply at the end.
How odd. I wasn't the only one to notice - soon soft chatter rolled through the room, and eventually the instructor noticed that something was amiss. Turning fully to face the class, he stared at this small, impish woman and asked what question she had.
Her reply in a singsong fashion reminding me of TinkerBell. "I don't have a question."
"Then why is your hand in the air?"
"Clearly it is. Either put your arm down, or ask your question."
"I don't have a question."
"Then why is your arm up?"
"Because the shit's so deep in here, the only thing worth saving is the watch."
Well reputed as an uptight no-nonsense humorless ass, upon hearing this little woman's statement, gasps were the only break in the silence, and all eyes in the peanut gallery stared forward widened with disbelief, and in anticipation of the instructors reaction.
A stunned expression crossed his face, and the stern demeanor crumbled into deep rolls of thunderous laughter.
We were in a very strange place. Whether it was respect or fear, people walked a little stiffer, spoke more timidly, and scurried out of his way for fear of garnering too much attention, no one had every heard of nor witnessed any sort of soft side to this curmudgeon. Yet, here before us, was the person, who could now barely stand he was laughing so hard.
A spitfire in her own right, she was and continues to be a spot of sunshine and laughter in the most challenging of times.
After 4 1/2 years of non-stop work and doing everything that
was asked of me and more - even when the amount of work that landed on my plate
was far more than any one person can or should be responsible for, it's time for a new chapter in this adventure called 'life'.
A number of students that used our service have graduated, so if the meeting had gone the way of ‘We just don’t have
enough work, we are sorry we can’t renew your contract.’ that would have been
plausible and an appropriate way of letting me go. While that would have been the kind way of letting me go, it wouldn't have been true.
It didn’t go down that way. Instead Supe went for the
personal, using mischaracterizations and skewed situations as an explanation
for the decision. As I wrote in Chhhcchhchhhanges this semester has been a rough one.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been this exhausted;
Mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. I have been worn down
I wrote those words two days after our meeting, when Supe
notified me that my contract for the fall would not be renewed.
After more than a week of recovering from such a long and
stressful work environment, I’m waking to the fact that the actual job, the
people that I worked with on a daily basis and the team the evolved over these
last few year - it was amazing, it was more than I could have ever dreamed of,
and it had so little to do with the ‘chain of command’.
That chain of command though, I am relieved to be out from
under it. I could delve into all of the critiques, the complaints, the wrongs
that I’ve seen and experienced, and the questionable behavior of a couple of people that taints
the environment for everyone else who wants to be there, doing the hard but
rewarding work of providing accommodations, help, and acknowledgement for
people with disabilities.
I have heard that one such individual has been, from the
time I started working for them, talking poorly and sharing (untrue) stories
about me when I wasn’t in the room. It is my hope that those I worked with,
those that slogged through the trenches with me know a tale when it’s being
spun versus the truth when they hear it.
Those that don’t… well, I’m concerned about them. They are
the ones that I worked hard to protect. It is a fact that anyone who works
under this person is subject to similar vitriol. The more likely that are to
have heard negative or even participated in such conversations, the more likely
they are to have similar words said about them. One person in particular, who
has been there nearly as long as I was, is completely unaware of all the hate
that spewed about them and I wish her luck.
I loved my job, and I explored it to the fringes with
everything that I had. Were I given the opportunity to continue on, anything
else would have been fine-tuning.
I leave that behind, and now that I’ve shaken off the stress
and the disillusionment, I’m moving on to new and brighter things. I’m excited
and have a clarity that has been missing for a long time.