Friday, April 20, 2012

An Open Letter to the Academic Job Market

Ms. Bright Eyes
House Beautiful

Professor Bottom-Line
#3 Tenure Street
Vanity Fair

Dear Professor Bottom-Line:

I hope this letter reaches you without any difficulty, since the recent upheaval in Vanity Fair has forced your to relocate your offices.  You must miss that pretty ivory tower on Much-Ado Boulevard, but surely your new basement suite has cheaper rent.  Everyone understands this has been a difficult year for your department: rumor has it you'll be holding an Adjunct Sale soon to liquidate the surplus inventory. 

I am writing to provide my official notice that I am off the market.  You can imagine how strange it was for me--a nice girl from a nice graduate school, suddenly up on the auction-block in front of your customers. It was crowded up there--you do crowd us rather terribly--and I waited, smoothing and rearranging my CV rather frantically.  Everyone kept pushing and shouting, hoping to catch the eyes of the housekeepers and butlers who had come from Elite Manor, Research House, and all the rest.  I didn't want to go home with any of them, but so many of the others buyers looked grim--service there would certainly mean a houseful of mewling infants, dirty dishes always piled in the sink, and little rest for the weary. 

Forgive me if I have bored you with this story; I understand there is no column for it in your account-book.  I share all this only because I do not have the customary receipt of sale to provide for your records. The reason is rather strange.  As I waited, an old friend saw me at the market and invited me to take a cup of tea.  We went to one of those funny little shops on the edge of town--started, they say, by some admirers of those foreigners who caused so much trouble a few years ago.  There I met the stewards and children of a house perched on the edge of the Bay of Hope.  We stayed for hours, laughing and telling stories, and by the end of the night they had asked me to come and join their household.  I believe that long ago, Professor, you wrote your dissertation on "Commodification and Personhood," so perhaps you can understand (or at least, analyze) how free I felt.  I was not purchased, but invited.  I'm not sure how you will enter that into your records, but being a clever man, you will no doubt think of something.  

I am leaving Vanity Fair as soon as possible, so all future correspondence should be forwarded to the address above.  Please note also that my name has recently changed; you will find my old file under the name "Much-Afraid."

Sincerely yours,

A free woman