Wednesday, January 28, 2004

So yesterday I'm in a meeting with my director, who is a good guy, but busy enough that getting time with him can be like nailing jell-o to the wall. I'm not feeling well at all. I haven't been sleeping much lately and the pita I ate for lunch is strongly disagreeing with me. The topic of our conversation is not one which makes me particularly happy. And then one of my office-mates steps in and says the words I dread to hear:

"Ryan, there's a guy here to see you. He says his name is (oh, let's call him Steve Christmas). He says you don't know he's coming."

Leaguers, we are not on campus. We are off campus. We are in an office suite so difficult to find that we've lost client contracts due to the fact that the clients couldn't locate us. But Steve Christmas found me. And interrupted me in my very important meeting.

"Does he have a gun...?"
Rachel let out a weak laugh.
"Is he carrying a violin case?"
So I stepped out of my meeting (which was very important) to meet Steve Christmas, who looked wild-eyed and pissed off.
Steve Christmas was upset. Very upset. So I sat him down in an unused office (but not mine) and looked him in the eye.
"So how can I help you?"
Leaguers, our business is based upon the notion that people pay a fee for their online courses. Yes, yes... terribly evil. And if you believe that, I have a gentleman name of Steve Christmas who would like to be your friend.
"Why can't I see the online lectures?"
"We have a differential fee--"
"I don't like the fact that my tuition pays for these online classes to go up and I can't take them!"
"No, the fees you just said you didn't want to pay for covers our expenses."
"Oh. Well, those fees are expensive!"
"They sure are."
"I think I should have access to the online classes!"
"Aren't you already in the on-campus section?"
"Yes, but I want to see the online lectures!"
"but aren't you usually in on-campus classes?"
"Yes, but the cost is too high. I don't understand why you would make me a second class student!"
"THe President of the University and the Dean--"
"right. They want to make money. I understand. But the faculty goes too fast!"
"Tell him to slow down."
"I will! It'll slow down the video! Your online students will hate it!"
"Well, you know if he's going too fast, everybody would-"
"They're not going to like it when I keep interrupting the video to slow him down!"
Anyway, Steve tore into me for only about ten minutes, as I tried to explain that I am, in fact, a government schill, and that if he didn't like the fees or being in a studio classroom, that maybe he should take it up with the Dean as my livelihood depended upon these fees and these studios.
"You know, you're making a commodity out of education!"
"And just like all these tech jobs, somebody overseas is going to do this better than you, and cheaper!"
"And you're going to be out of a job, just like all the tech people!"
"I just hope, you know, you can live with that!"
"... okay... I'll try..."
"Because this isn't going to last."
By now Steve Christmas was either naturally one twitchy guy, or he was shaking angry at me for just saying "...okay.." to every one of his dire visions of doom. And I wasn't feeling well, and I had a lot of other stuff to do.
"You should probably talk to the dean of academic affairs. i don't set policy."
"Oh, right. Like he'll see me."
"Well, I don't know. But I don't really make any of these decisions."
"So you're just here to get yelled at." (it was not a question.)
"Well, i just want you to know, this isn't going to stand!"
And the whole time I'm calculating the likelihood of this guy having a knife under his coat, because he's getting twitchier and twitchier. But at this point, twitchy Steve Christmas kind of left in a rush.
I guess my office mates heard the whole thing. I went back to the meeting and sat down.
"You did the right thing," my director said, nodding sagely.
"Oh yeah, what's that?"
"You didn't let him talk to me."
Ah, government.
And the best part is, now I have to keep one eye open in case Steve Christmas shows up again. Last semester it was just a petition to have me sacked. I can't wait to see how Crazy Steve Christmas takes it to the next level.

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