I’m still writing police blotter haiku, for better or worse. You’ll find a new batch (or two) over at Police Blotter Haiku, my other blog. Police Blotter Haiku, the book, sells slowly but steadily. If you’ve read it, and liked it, and care to add a review on Amazon, I’d appreciate it.
Other than that, I’ve started a new job. As you know, I’d been working in the advancement (fundraising) department of a public university. I still work for the university — but in a different department.
I work in the Office of the Registrar (aka, the Rej); could anything sound more boring? I sit in a cube farm of modest size within a room that resembles the bowels of a ship; power conduits and pipes and heating ducts cling to the walls and ceiling in plain sight. Everything is painted the same shade of beige.
The cubicles are unique to my experience, in that each cube wall contains a glass window to the next cube. You can look all the way down each line of cubes in either direction, or even through the rows of cubes in front of you, or in back, straight through to the front and rear walls. Against the front wall is a counter with outward-facing teller stations. The teller windows are closed.
Next week, those windows will open, and long lines of students — and their parents — will queue up to ask questions of the Rej. Some of them will not be happy questions: why can’t I enroll? Why can’t I get my classes? What do you mean, I missed the deadline for submitting transcripts? And occasionally the questioners may let their anger overwhelm them. There are special code words for danger, even panic buttons that call the campus police.
It probably won’t come to that. But sometimes it has. Frightened people are angry people. Flunking out of college, perhaps deeply in debt at the age of 19 or 20? That frightens a lot of people.
Despite the spartan quarters and my position on the front lines, I am happy to be here. And no, I don’t have to man the counter.
While no job is perfect, my new co-workers have actively made me welcome. Everyone’s helpful. If I have a question, someone comes over and answers it immediately. Another person was hired along with me, in the same job classification, and we’ve formed a team of sorts. It is, dare I say it, cozy.
And Rhumba works upstairs. We commute together, walk into the building together, often lunch together. In an ugly concrete building nestled in a redwood forest. But you can barely see the building for the trees.
Life could be a lot worse, right now. We’ll see where the road takes us. In the meantime, I’m learning more about how a university works than I did in eight years with the fundraisers. The Rej is the academic control tower of the university, monitoring every student’s flight path to graduation. The Rej guides every successful touch-down with confirmations and course corrections, and shouts “PULL UP! PULL UP!” when someone comes in too low.
I learn something new every day. Sometimes my eyes go wide as dinner plates.
Want to know about the state of higher education in America? I hope so, because you’ll be hearing about it from time to time.
Stay in touch. More soon.