Sometimes things are put into perspective. It comes as no surprise to anyone that I really don't like my job for a bunch of reasons unrelated to teaching and having more to do with the institution that employs me and the circumstances of my employ. I feel pretty shitty about things, as you know.
But sometimes I am reminded how bad things could be. I have two friends - let's call them Femma and Journo. Femma is an old friend of mine - we've been friends for almost fifteen years, since early in my B.A. About six years ago, she got together with another friend of mine, Journo - someone I'd become friends with through my (non-academic) work. They live happily ever after.
Except not. Because Journo's life is ruled by her boss. Femma and Journo were supposed to be coming out to visit me around the time of Femma's 35th birthday in April - we've been starting to plan it. Journo put in the request for vacation, and her boss is going to turn it down because of a party. Because he wants Femma and Journo to be in attendance at a party, he will say, "no vacay for you." According to Femma, who wrote me tonight, livid, "the more Boss knows Journo wants to go, the more pleasure he's going to take in saying, no, you have to stay."
Every time I talk to these two, they're lamenting some kind of Event they have to go to. They missed my going-away party, for instance, because of a party they had no choice but to go to. (Not that it's all about me, of course - just an example.) Have to - no choice. It is made clear that Journo's job hangs in the balance. This fucking asshole man runs about buying $10,000 tables at charity events, or throwing over-the-top six-course dinners, just to impress people and purchase his own semblance of self-esteem. And then, sadist that he is, he takes pleasure in miring other people in the muck he's made of his life.
It is good for me to be reminded of how much freedom I ultimately have in this job. How, even though my "boss" is an ass and a half, I have to put scare quotes around the word boss because that doesn't really describe his position. That's a good thing to remember. I am exceedingly privileged, and I'd better not forget it.