Even though it’s spring break, I’m in my office today because I need access to some software and datasets that I don’t have at home, and because, frankly, I work more efficiently and with less guilt at school than at home. (Unless I’m blogging, that is!)
I didn’t ask very many colleagues about their spring break plans, maybe because the internet consensus was that spring break was a time to recuperate from teaching and get some research done, and those were basically my plans, too. (Plus taxes, whee!) I assumed my colleagues here at Mystery U would do some variation on the same themes.
So today, when I showed up in my building, I was surprised by the reception I got. Here are the actual comments I got when I was in the hallway or working with my office door open:
“What’s a nice girl like you doing in here on spring break?” (from an administrator/colleague)
“Why are you doing here on such a nice day?” (from a student working in a lab)
“I’m surprised to see you here. Faculty aren’t around much this week.” (from a clerical worker)
So clearly, the message from these conversations (and the rows of closed doors) is this: Faculty don’t belong in their offices during this week.
But, given our teaching loads, the demands for research productivity, and the continual stream of email and requests from the administration, it is ridiculous to think that all of the faculty are at the beach for the week. In fact, of the few faculty I asked about spring break plans, all of them mentioned getting some research done, while maybe working shorter/fewer days and getting caught up on pesky errands. But, if that research isn’t being done at the office, it’s probably being done at home. Which brings me to unwritten rule #724:
Real faculty have fully-equipped home offices where they work highly efficiently, fee of distractions from small children, pets, and teetering piles of bills and laundry.
Of course, my home office looks something like this:
So, here I am at school on spring break. Feeling guilty for having my child in daycare, while I’m “on vacation.” Feeling guilty for not getting more research done this week, because I am working shorter days so we can have more time together. And now I’m behind a closed door, because I now know I’m violating the unwritten code of professor-dom. Sometimes academic traditions, like rules 723 and 724, make life more lonely for those who don’t fit the mold. And that’s a bummer.