(Though it should be noted this is a silly assemblage of tracks which have no cohesion other than their titles. I haven’t even heard most of this music. So, all disclaimers can and do apply.)
If I had a suit I’d have worn it. I put on my best pants — you know, for the kind they call “slacks” — and my best shirt. Unfortunately my bike’s in the shop, and it’s swelteringly humid here in New Orleans, so by the time I walked to work I was quite literally drenched. That’s not an exaggeration. My under clothes were soaking wet. Fortunately I keep a spare set of everything in my office.
I was able to get my shirt dried out in time for the convocation. I put on a cool vintage tie Xy bought me a year or so ago which has a burning oil lamp on it. I don’t think I’ve ever worn it before. The oil lamp signifies education, or illumination, or something, in my mind at least.
Yes, I’m proud to work at a university, because I believe in education. I believe in our mission. Hell, in this economy, I’m just glad to have a job, much less work that I enjoy. Pretty much every single day for the past ten years I’ve been amazed they pay me to do what I do. The other day I remarked to Xy that my job was the best thing we had going for us. Her reply: “It’s the only thing we have going for us.”
I headed over to the Barn, which is the campus nickname for the gymnasium. They pinned a boutonnière to my lapel and marched me in the procession. They have this ceremony every year on Founder’s Day, but this is the first time I’ve seen it up front. Of course, as a ten year employee I’m still on the lowest rung. They also recognized those who’ve been here 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years. I remember a while back there was a groundskeeper who made 50, if I recall correctly. I know I’m a sentimental old fool, but those kind of things always get me a little misty-eyed.
Humorous aside: They called my co-worker J—’s name for 30 years, and she wasn’t even in the building, nor was her name printed in the program. Yes, she started 30 years ago, but she had six years elsewhere and then came back. She gone round and round with HR about this, and she thought she’d gotten it straight and would be honored next year for 25. And I hope she will!
Recognizing employee anniversaries was only one part of the convocation. The choir sang, the band played, speeches were made. Seniors got their robes. Freshmen were awestruck, I’m sure, by the pomp, to say nothing of the circumstance. As an added bonus, they unveiled the winner of a logo contest for the University’s new Quality Enhancement Plan which is focused on reading. I’d completely forgotten about this, so it was a real treat for me because I’m the guy who suggested the contest in the first place. Too bad my design (“word is born” in the shape of a cross) didn’t win. I could have used that $500 gift certificate.
The singing of the Alma Mater always makes me feel weird. In four years of undergraduate plus two years of graduate study at Indiana University, I never once sung the school song, or heard the president speak, or really had any experiences that made me identify with the institution. And though I like the small, intimate, family feel of the University where I now work, where I now feel at home, still singing the school song seems a little too much like patriotism to me, a little too 1984 if you know what I mean. I’m kind of allergic to that stuff. I wonder how that happened.
Tonight I’m taking wife and daughter to a special banquet for honorees.