Andrew Duncan Worthington
It would be in a conference room next to an office, which was deserted, because it was winter recess for Hillside Community College, a junior school in the public university system, with two bland office buildings serving as its campus on a peak overlooking the city’s sprawling highways and highrise projects. The adjunct lecturer hiring committee would be aiming to hire a young adjunct lecturer to a one semester contract that, considering its salary and hours, would end up being the equivalent of working at McDonald’s, or any other minimum wage job, for that matter. The adjunct lecturer hiring committee would ask the secretary to ask the young adjunct lecturer to sit in the waiting area at the department’s office’s entrance, where the young adjunct lecturer would look at a bulletin board with flyers for different clubs and groups and also department events or events in related departments. Next to the bulletin board, there would be an Ansel Adams photograph, which reminded the young adjunct lecturer of their therapist’s office, from when the young adjunct lecturer was still an undergraduate student and was covered by parental insurance, allowing therapy to be more practical. These days, the young adjunct lecturer just kept busy with writing several in-progress novels and stories, while working at their former graduate school, where duties included conferencing with students, compiling units and assignments, designing lessons and activities, planning and delivering lectures, facilitating and leading discussions, grading papers, and sending grades to students, including two students who were pretty much identical twins, who complained that their final grades were A’s and not A-minuses, as they had received, something the young adjunct lecturer tried to console them about by saying, “An A-minus is great. A’s are very hard to achieve.” This didn’t calm the situation, with the students both asserting they deserved A’s, as it was a low-level writing course, and they needed it to fulfill graduation requirements but also expected it to help boost their GPA to outweigh the more difficult engineering, math, and computer science courses they were taking. After a couple emails they were already threatening to go to the administration, one of them writing an email that said, “I hope no other student ever has to go through what you’ve made me go through.” The twins continued to email the young adjunct lecturer all day, seemingly in an orchestrated manner, as they replied with similar emails at almost completely the same time, several times, again and again. Ultimately, the young adjunct lecturer went radio silent, like a submarine in the middle of enemy territory. The twins took “the case,” as it could be called, to the administration, going from the deputy department chair to the department chair to the dean of the college of arts and humanities to the assistant president of the college. It was still being adjudicated, as the young adjunct lecturer sat waiting for the interview at Hillside Community College. The interview, once it happened, would start slowly, with the eight committee members seemingly all concerned, to varying degrees, with preparing notes for the interview, be it jotting down stuff in notebooks or shuffling papers around, making sure they were ready to begin. They would ask a series of situational and hypothetical questions, sometimes with follow-up questions. They would look at the resume, seeing that the young adjunct lecturer also taught at Metropolitan City University, a senior school in the public university system, which would cause them to ask why not just teach there, which would elicit the usual response from the applicant—the young adjunct lecturer—about trying to broaden horizons, which really meant trying to make a liveable amount of money, which wasn’t currently possible with the 1.5 courses they taught at Metro U. The adjunct lecturer hiring committee would then nod, knowing this already mostly, even though it was never said, before asking the young adjunct lecturer about so-and-so professor from Metro U., who sometimes the young adjunct lecturer would know, but more often not, at least not personally. The adjunct lecturer hiring committee would then ask the young adjunct lecturer if there were any questions. The young adjunct lecturer would say, “Yes. I would like to know what the course load typically is.” The adjunct lecturer hiring committee would pause and look at each other, deciding who should answer, before the one guy who talked the most would say, “It’s mainly science writing and business writing that we are looking to fill.” The young adjunct lecturer would nod and refer to previous experience with teaching a class called Writing for Engineers, which would come in handy. The adjunct lecturer hiring committee would ask what training had been given to or undertaken by the young adjunct lecturer, who would describe receiving special cohort training of several hundred dollars the previous years, each summer break, in order to learn and talk about the undergraduate writing curriculum at the university, time mostly spent sitting with leftover catered food—wraps and salads and cookies and fruit—sending texts to colleagues at the cohort’s conference tables, complaining about the entire training thing. This wouldn’t be said, but the young adjunct lecturer would think about it as a lull ensued in the interview, prompting a quiet but confident spectacled man, the chair of the committee, to say how great it was that the young adjunct lecturer had come in, and that they would be getting back about the final decision shortly. Two weeks later, the young adjunct lecturer emailed the adjunct lecturer hiring committee, asking about the status of the position. The committee chair emailed back three days later, saying that the position had been filled, and wishing the best of luck to the young adjunct lecturer in the spring semester.