I have been a lecturer in the UCSB Writing Program since 1980 and that’s all I have been. I have not moved up in any way shape or form. I have not, for example, become senior lecturer or super senior lecturer or anything like that because there are no such things. Part of a career, as I understand the concept—and possibly I don’t—involves moving up. But that didn’t happen so I guess I didn’t have much of a career.
About the only way to move up was to get a raise. For whatever reasons, my bosses have never told me I was doing a super job or expressed how grateful they were that I continued to exist. So getting a raise was about the only way to get a pat on the back. But it was a sort of private pat on the back because none of us ever talk about how much we do or don’t make, maybe because we make so little. So a raise was not really a social status thing; you don’t go around bragging about how much you make. It’s better to have something by your name that says “Super Senior Lecturer.”
So some time, in this last horrible year, February or March, I guess it was I was up for a merit review and a possible pat on the back. It had been four years since my last chance at a merit increase. And at that time I got a two step merit increase which was the most a person could get according to our union contract. But the contract had changed and I made sure that the boss knew that people could now get three or even four merit steps depending on degree of accomplishment.
I wanted to get a 3 step because, well, that would be like a super pat on the back and also I am close to retirement and wanted to get my salary up as high as I could because my retirement benefits are based on my 3 most highly paid years of service. So this one was a big deal for me.
I felt I deserved a three step (heck, I felt I deserved a four step), and after the review, which is always just awful, like a beauty contest or something and you are wearing no clothes, I got a nice letter from my boss saying the committee had approved a three step increase for me and congratulations. So I got the pat on the back and some money too.
But, whoa! These merits aren’t automatic; they go from the program up to the Dean’s office, and I got a letter from the Dean’s office saying I had received a two step and not a three step. And of course, this is the university and no reason whatsoever was offered as to why I got two instead of three.
Well, that hurt. Screw it, I thought. I will just suck it up. But that didn’t seem right, so I went to the boss and told her what I had been told and ask her if anybody else had received a three step because I figured that if I hadn’t gotten one that the Dean’s office had decided not to give a three step to anybody.
But, no, my boss says that three of my colleagues had received three steps, and that one of them at least, as my boss remembered it, had received fewer votes than I for those three steps. I tend towards paranoia and this didn’t help. Not only had I not received my secret pat on the back, I felt as if I had been slapped in the face, for what reason, I knew not.
And to top that off, because of my fatigue no doubt, I sent an email to my boss discussing my not getting a three step and pushed the wrong button I guess and sent the email to all of my colleagues. So my slap in the face went public.
That’s a picture of my office at UCSB. It must be from a few years ago because that’s a lexmark printer amid all the junk there, and now I have an HP. That’s my trusty scanner to the left of the Lexmark. Jeez, I must have gotten that thing back in the mid 90’s.