The first book I wrote, The Language Professor, was about the life-changing encounter I had with the Director General (DG) of the junior college where I was working as director of admissions. I ran afoul of this DG when I refused the application of the non-qualified son of an influential friend of his.
When my supervisor asked me about him, I explained my decision. When he asked a second, time, I re-explained my decision. The third time he did not ask, he told me, admit him, and I did.
Well, the DG did not forget this instance of lesé majesté and hit back a year later when I was scheduled to resume my position after having taken a year’s leave of absence approved by all instances of the college. He couldn’t fire me because the employee group I belonged to was unionized, but he insisted on assigning me to a non-job in another department.
The guillotine had fallen. My world was turned upside down. What happened to the contract I had signed while I was away, the letter I received from the personnel office telling me all was in order, to the merit pay increase I had been granted because of the excellence with which I had performed my duties the preceding year?
I had met my very own, personal Humpty Dumpty: 'When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” Whence the title I gave the book.
Of course, what the DG was doing was illegal from a union point of view but that did not stop him. The only thing that stopped him was his own neck: his mandate was coming up for renewal in the spring and he wanted the mess he had created with me out of the way. Especially since I had been elected as representative of my association to the college’s Board of Governors which would be deciding the question of his renewal.
I had succeeded in getting my job back, but I had been thoroughly chastened; more, my innocence had been destroyed forever, words did not mean what I thought they meant, they meant only what someone stronger than me thought/said they meant. I had entered the world of “experience”.
The mandate fight on the Board deepened this “experience”, since Eugene’s supporters were also masters of contingency, of twisting words and bending facts. At one point during the struggle, I remember having come home and moaned to my partner, “they are so ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly.”
My political education was complete.
The Language Professor, Strategic Book Publishers, Durham CT 06422Group.
why i write
My goal in writing is to communicate and share my thoughts about the people I know and the events I have experienced with the hope that my experience can be of help to others. The gist of my experience in The One of Their Relationship is: letting go.