September 9th, 2018

South Park Self

ding dong

I should probably have mentioned that one of the things that happened over the latest bloggery hiatus is that my evil hell-boss resigned. When the Dean came into my office a few months back to tell me about the resignation, I was completely unable to restrain myself from an small, involuntary, dignified Dance of Joy. The Dean, who is a Nice Man who shares my opinion of the Evil Hell-boss, immediately burst out laughing. "You know," he said, "absolutely everyone I've told about this has done exactly the same thing."

I occasionally reel slightly, if I can pause in the fog of resentment and anger, to wonder at quite the magnitude of the fuck-up she achieved during, what, five years in office? She attempted a grandiose and misguided office restructure which achieved nothing it was supposed to because she was blissfully out of touch with the realities of day-to-day admin, and which resulted in a massive downturn in effectiveness and productivity. In the process she rode rough-shod over the staff to an extent which caused an approximately 80% staff turnover in two years. She has spent the rest of her time diligently producing administrative process manuals which no-one will ever read, and which attempt to enshrine an office practice she doesn't fully understand. When the whole thing fell apart and the staff began to actually refuse to implement any of her instructions, she had a beautiful toddler tantrum and removed herself from office (on full pay) to sulk down the hill in another department doing unspecified "special projects", while her deputy had to do two jobs simultaneously, including manage disaffected staff. She also managed to finesse this dereliction of duty to re-characterise it as All Our Fault, not hers.

As she tactfully took her last couple of weeks of work in the faculty office as leave, this means she's left already. It is actually quite odd to contemplate how little a difference this has made. The damage has been done so extensively and comprehensively that I think we're all staggering around, stunned, in the ruins, and the fact that Great Cthulhu has fucked off back to R'lyeh doesn't really mitigate the mental trauma any. Those sanity points are lost, buster. No returns.

I find it funny, though, that she came into my office to give me a breezy, cordial goodbye on her last day in office. Lots of chatting about her new post (still within my Cherished Institution, alas) and possible co-operation down the line. I am unable to decide whether or not this is the result of me acing my personal strategy for dealing with her over the last few years, which is to be Resolutely Professional And Pleasant and not to go against anything she wanted in any upfront way, so that she genuinely imagines I'm a supporter, or if she has an equal and opposite strategy of cordiality which means the whole interchange put the Genuine levels in the room at 0.00%. It's interesting, though, to realise that several decades of role-playing have some practical upshot, I hadn't thought I was capable of that kind of sustained deception.

I still want to leave this job, although I don't have it in me to do so immediately, I'm one of the few points of institutional memory left. Apart from my sense of traumatised camaraderie with fellow administrators, I shudder to contemplate the additional, hideous reduction in service our students would experience as my replacement learned the ropes. But I am not, so to speak, committed to the enterprise any longer. The burned child eventually learns to fear the fire, at least at the point where her fingers are scorched to stumps approximately at the elbows.

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