But today, I received this.*
If you enjoy the alphabet, then have I got a job for you! I'm looking for two people to alphabetize and shelve about 2,000 books for me very quickly -- either tonight or tomorrow. (But preferably tonight.)Yes, this was sent by a member of the faculty at Little U., who has been teaching there longer than I have been one of Little U.'s students. And no, s/he is not on my thesis committee -- I never did end up taking a workshop under this person, so it didn't make sense to ask.
My mom is visiting me soon and is going to be appalled to discover that I haven't quite moved in to this place that I supposedly moved into several months ago. So I'm hoping to diguise [sic] the fact that I own no furniture with many shelves of meticulously alphabetized books (plus a couple hundred DVDs).
Sound like your idea of a Friday night? Then e-mail me and I'll give you some details. I think the job will require two people, so contacting me with a partner already in place would be ideal -- otherwise you risk being partnered with someone potentially annoying. I will pay you each 150 bucks in cold/hard cash, and I'm guessing that the job will take you about 5 hours total. If you're pleasant I'll also order pizza.
I know; it's a quirky request, humorous because of the situation it describes. But I hesitate to laugh for two reasons. One, because I think this prof is being earnest -- as in, the situation is of a serious nature to him/her. Parental visit, lack of furniture. I know that kind of judgment all too well. I could substitute a good number of items (concrete or abstract) for that missing couch and coffee table s/he's talking about in that e-mail and remember the squirmy feeling of not measuring up to somebody's expectations on how I should live.
The other reason? Well -- and you can laugh about this -- I like filing.
D makes fun of me for it, but when he needs a document we don't reference on a daily basis, he's very glad I am the way I am. Need a receipt for the sofa we bought three months back? Three years? Sure. Records from bank accounts two out-of-state moves ago? Got it. How about the operating manual for the decades-old sewing machine your mother passed on to us last year? Give me thirty seconds; I know exactly where it is.
So, alphabetizing books. I so would have done it for this prof. And cash (and pizza) aside, I would have enjoyed it.
But I also would have been getting ready to defend my thesis and/or give a final to my students, so I guess it's a good thing I'm not there, tempted by this distraction ...
* Edited to protect the identity of the original sender.