Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Long, Relatively Clean, Hallway

Ah summer. Here at Moo U., that means no trash collection except on Friday. The custodians, some grudgingly, work outside, and the local teens don't get the weed pulling and lawnmowing jobs. State funds are still low, and who wants to pay for clean toilets and shiny floors? Still, my building, the largest classroom building on a campus of hulking brick behemoths, is relatively clean this summer.

Our custodian, Rigo, from Mexico via California, does a great job. I use to see him coming down the long extended U shape of my floor, and would greet him when he got to my office. He said he hates Indiana weather, prefers California. What is good for corn (hot and humid) is not good for many in the summer.

Fortunately, it has been quite cool so far. I haven't donned my sandals for teaching (which one of my undergraduates told me looked "unprofessional" with a sportcoat on an evaluation a year ago...too bad, I say, I am HOT!).

My office sits on the very end of one of our hallways, five floors up. When I was an administrator, six floors up (seven is the philosophy department, that much closer to the Platonic forms), I had a view of a fountain, the airport (second busiest in Indiana due to all the students taking off and landing) and the Eli Lilly plant where they churn out Prozac (pray for the wind to bring the fumes this way). Now, I overlook the oldest building on campus, home to the History department, and slated for demolition unless someone coughs up R&R funds to fix it. Poor historians...a few years ago, right after the Alamo Bowl committee selected high flying Kansas State to play our upstart team, a ferocious wind came out of Manhattan, KS and blew the roof and cupola off this old gem. Water gushed down and ruined many a historian's office. Who could blame them for their later curmudgeonly response to the university librarian who was keen on going digital? The historians wanted to be able to continue to touch dusty paper and smell the bindings, and besides, their computers still spewed water.

Since my office is at the end of a long hallway, I keep my door closed. No matter, many of my colleagues are hardly ever around, even during the AY. Some say the building has bad air, others meet over coffee at Panera. There is no social area to meet, no cluster of offices, just a long hallway on either side. What were the architects thinking when they designed the building? That we shouldn't get together and talk in between bouts with the flickering screen?

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