At first I decided that it was just too boring to have another sad post about my miserable job, now ex-job. Then I thought I should at least say what the day was like. So here goes.
My last day came and went with little fanfare and just enough bullshit to piss me off. I set myself a deadline to get grades in by telling my undergrads that I would hand back papers yesterday at noon in my office. Students rarely come en masse to these hours, but the good ones who want closure on the class usually show up to say how much they enjoyed things, and to say goodbye. This time five or so showed up to say goodbye, this time for good. That was fine. I appreciated their sweetness, and even thought it was comical when one of the students most upset about the university not tenuring me said the name of Famous Dean at the exact moment that Famous Dean walked by. His head swivelled uncontrollably for a moment, drawn to the rare spectacle on our hallway of an open office door. The student kept talking, he kept walking. The student left. Other students hovering near came and went. Eventually it was time to close up shop.
I checked my email one more time and saw that the Assistant to the Head wanted to see me briefly. I stopped in to her office, expecting her to tell me where to drop off keys, or something like that. The first thing she asked, discomfort writ large in every gesture of her body, was when did I think I might be moving out? No hurry, no hurry, she reassured me. She asked about keys, equipment, whether I had let the pension system know I was leaving. Then her voice trembled, and she told me she was really sad I was going, and that she'd miss me. I saw tears in her eyes. I was flummoxed.
Fortunately Crazy Poetry Lady blew into the room at that precise moment to demand the time of a meeting she had forgotten. When she stopped short, Staff Lady told her she was saying goodbye, and Crazy Poetry Lady offered me her hand, almost as if I should kiss it. "Goodbye, goodbye!" she trumpeted. Then added, surprisingly, "Best prose writer in the department!" I couldn't help it. "Too bad everybody else didn't agree with you!" I shot back. "I was on leave!" she protested, too much. She had never said anything before, not in the two years since my tenure decision when I'd passed her in the hallway at least once a week. Ah, collegiality. It seems always to require an audience.
It was definitely time to go. Even as I knew I had to drag in one more time to get an incomplete grade done for a dawdling grad student, and thought with a sigh how tedious it was going to be to pack up my books, most of which belong to my ex in Boston and need to be sent back to her, yesterday felt like the end of something.
And really, when you consider what a truly shitty place to work it has been for the last four years, and that I'm getting paid all summer to figure out what I want to do with my life, and that my health insurance continues through August, that's fine. I looked up at my door, with its "Professor Dirty Lesbian" flier still on it, and closed it behind me.