Yes. Horrible. Back when they censored books, they would say that the book had no redeeming social value. This seemed to mean that if you wrote something with a bunch of sex scenes in it and all sorts of “dirty” words, and it had some redeeming social value, it might be published. I don’t think my time on the job market had any redeeming social value.
I got to see a few places I might not otherwise have seen, I suppose. For example, I saw River Falls, Wisconsin. They flew me in for an interview, so what the heck. I was desperate. The school was 40 minutes from Minneapolis-Saint Paul. I think that was its redeeming social value. Along the way, the chair who came to pick me up talked about how this last winter it had just snowed, and snowed, and snowed, and driving to work, he had gone off the road and neck deep into a snow pit just. And when he didn’t show up for work when he usually showed up (this was before cell phones), they came out looking for him and retrieved him from the gully by the road.
That’s the kind of people they were there. They looked out for each other because, if they didn’t, they could freeze to death. The college-an ag school-consisted of a fair number of brick and concrete bunker like buildings with tiny windows designed to withstand the rigors of winter.
As we were walking towards the building that housed the English department, a young woman walked down the steps of the adjoining building, and she was so damn pale I thought she was sick and almost said so before I realized that’s what a person looks like—a naturally fair person—when they hadn’t been in the sun for six months. A person who has not seen the sun for six months looks like they are coming out of a long stay in the hospital.
They parked my ass in a tiny mail room so I could meet faculty as they came and went. And one after another, the faculty persons proved to be guys with great Paul Bunyonesque guts, huge beards, and clothes that made them appear to have just returned from shooting elk or fishing for beaver or something like that. One guy walked in with no beard, wearing slacks, and not fat and I asked who he was, and they said, oh he was leaving.
Later in the day, the Department crazy who wore a suit jacket, had a huge gut, and smoked like a fiend drove me around a bit in River Falls proper. The Boy Scout troops had their own damn buildings. And note I said troop(s) because there was more than one Boy Scout troop building. I didn’t know Boy Scout troops could have their own buildings; my troop had met in the cafeteria of the local elementary school. And then, church, after church, after church, all some sort of Protestant.
I got a pretty good idea of what people were up to in River Falls. They stayed indoors six months of the year and ate and ate and ate, and went to church and Boy Scout meetings, and made sure nobody froze to death in the snow. Altogether a real family values place.