You go to the grocery store to buy some groceries and you are checked out by the cashier that everyone loves to hate. They can’t even manage to scan every item in your basket without fucking up at least four times; some things are missed, others are double-billed, and when one tiny item refuses to scan, the cashier passes it over and over and over the tiny window without ever adjusting the distance between the item and the scanner or the speed with which they move it, as though sheer repetition is going to make it work right. When the total comes it’s $20.01 and you give them a $50 and a penny and they give you back your penny and a $1 bill. You tell them you gave them a $50 and they say no, you gave them a $30. You respond to this by saying that (a) there is no $30 bill and (b) even if there was, the change from a “$30” would not be $1.01. They disbelieve you and don’t know how to open the register anyway, so they call the manager over the intercom, but they do it in such a jumble of slurred words and colloquialism that you’ll be surprised if the manager ever turns up. When the manager finally does, they accept at face value their employee’s story and ask you why, if you gave them a $30, they should give you more change than $1.01, and they’re suspicious that you didn’t just use your credit card, since everybody pays with credit cards anyway these days.
At a loss for words, you kill yourself with a shard from the jar of pickles that you shatter on the floor in bewildered frustration.
I have had two “work opportunities” in as many days with the professional academic “research organization” versions of the characters in this story. I have never spent so many hours in so few days being embarrassed for other people and organizations. I want the money, I really do, but I’m not willing to be employed by a faded, Mexican plastic garden gnome boss and the G.I. Joe action figures they’ve seen fit to bring in as my would-be co-workers.
Not if my name is to be on the academic product that results.
It all makes me realize just why so many people outside the world of graduate degrees and graduate research make fun of the idiot eggheads with Ph.D. degrees. A whole shitload of them need a grant, a board, and a set of working draft development briefs just to wipe their ass. Another significant chunk of them think they’re wiping their ass but are shocked when they scratch half of their face off with sandpaper instead.
I wonder if academics in, for example, the E.U. are this way as well, or if it’s just one more indication that the United States is becoming a third world country with third-rate labor, education, and self-awareness, top to bottom.