South Park Self

take your carriage clock

My Cherished Institution has just sent me a 10-year long service certificate, and I'm trying to work out why opening the envelope made me (a) laugh slightly hysterically, and (b) feel sick. It's a weird thing to receive on many levels, not the least because I can't work out how they're dating it. I've been in this job for six and a half years. Before that I had a temporary half-post in the English department for two years, and before that two years of post-doc during which I also taught. If they're going to count the part-time teaching, then in fact a 10-year service certificate is a bloody insult, I've been teaching for this university since 1992.

The bitter laughter/nausea reaction is entirely appropriate: the "service certificate" thing really both marks and completes the kind of erasure that academia habitually performs on the grad student teachers who actually perform the heavy lifting in the university's educational enterprise. This is another dose of Academic Ghost, isn't it? I apparently only started to exist officially on 1 July 2004, a completely arbitrary date which marks nothing significant in my actual life. Anything I achieved before then, the years of teaching and supervision and general academic dogsbodying, are a sort of hallucination. They aren't Real. The institution magnificently ignored them as I pootled about under the institutional table, incidentally propping it up while hoovering up crumbs.

This particularly abstract little face-slap does, in fact, come with an actual, physical bonus of a thousand rand, which is not unwelcome given that I'm busy furnishing a house and my credit card is starting to wilt slightly. (My bank has just upgraded it, in fact, suggesting that it's becoming somewhat athletically fit from regular exercise). But I can't say I'm consoled.

My subject line quotes Belle & Sebastian, whose sad and cynical little ditty "Take your carriage clock and shove it" is beautifully apposite.
Do not try to work out the workings of HR.

My husband's work hands out various 'long service' certificates after significant numbers of years. These are accompanied by a number of 'points' which can be used in a specified, and very restricted, catalogue. We've gotten some useful stuff over the years, and quite a bit of less useful stuff just to use up the points!

BTW - I thought people didn't actually exist in academia until they achieved a Doctorate at least, over here anyway.
I was awarded my doctorate in 2003. I cannot honestly say that it's had much effect on my state of existence, although it's a relatively useful status thing in the committee context. Mostly I like it because it cuts right across all the questions about whether I'm Miss or Mrs :>.

Your comment makes me realise I'm comparatively lucky that they give me cash, at least! Points are usually a rotten swizz of some sort, eventually.
The trouble with giving cash, over here at least, is that the Inland Revenue want their cut, hence the stupid points system. It would be nice if the catalogue they use was a useful one, like the Argos catalogue or something.