I got stopped by another student today in the hallway who innocently said, “You must be enjoying your break.” I’m sad to say I lost it, in a minor way. However, like every academic out there, I’m sick and tired of people assuming that once classes are over, easy times are here.
Break? What break? I told the student that I’m busier now than I was during term. That’s especially true because anything that we can put off during the worst crunches of teaching and marking is now coming back to haunt us.
I’ll be lucky to enjoy two, maybe three weeks of vacation this year although my contract provides for five. I have all sorts of administrative work that is enough for 40 hours a week right through the end of May, probably more. There’s all sorts of end of term marking to complete as soon as the last exam is written on the 27th. I have to prepare for the special spring term directed readings course I promised to teach that starts the week after that. The graduate program doesn’t just run itself: there’s paperwork galore awaiting me there! And what about book orders and course manuals for the fall? New deadline for orders is May 15th. Gah!
And we haven’t even gotten onto the subject of research and writing. Do people think that articles, essays and books just write themselves? Apparently. I’m being drawn deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole in the course of my current research (does anyone have the 1894 issues of Canadian Magazine available at their institution? Our microfilms apparently start with 1895. Cue the sound of head hitting desk!) and even if I don’t need this material for the conference paper version, I’ll want it for the article that comes afterwards. I’d love to arrange research trips to Toronto, Ottawa and Ithaca, but I’ll probably settle for one research trip and driving our ILL staff crazy with requests for the rest.
So, no, this is not a vacation or a break or a relaxing time. Not for me, not for my colleagues, not for the staff. Probably not for the students, either, who’re all rushing off to summer jobs or hitting the permanent job market. I’m not saying this job is evil or oppressive (I like professing!) but I wish people would stop assuming that the work begins and ends with each term’s start and end dates!