Senior Slide

catnapI wait in the hallway, my knees on the seat of an office swivel-chair. My colleague, G, is kneeling on a chair beside me. The wheels of the chairs whine against the wooden floor. We are both officially wearing a game face, which means that I look like a Cro-Magnon on a quest for fire and G has begun sweating into the chair.

Being a university teacher means that pressure is seasonal and intense. These are periods marked by gallons of coffee and cold sandwiches inhaled while grading tests and correcting essays. They are blurry with lessons and leave me sapped at the end of the day. In these periods of intense pressure I arrive at the office greeted by a line of students holding notebooks and confused frowns.

This is not one of those periods.

I turn to G and say, “My friend, you are going down like Jenna Jameson on a movie set.”

He is in a meditative pose that I have only seen demonstrated by a sumo wrestler before the salt is thrown in the ring in front of them. “Don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, Laddie, but you can explain it to me after I whip the hell out of your sorry Yank ass.”

A Spanish professor stands behind us and says, “Ready, set, vamos!”

We begin the office chair derby down the hallway, both pushing with our right feet and directing the chairs with our left knees on the seat and hands on the backrest. By the third furlong (6th floor coke machine) we are neck and neck and, astoundingly for two uncoordinated white men, there has not been a major collision yet.

The culmination of the seasonal intensity at a university is in late May and early June – that is, testing period. This is when teachers become the most important people in the students’ lives. This testing period is marked by meetings with frantic students I have never met and broken conversations with students amazed by how they could possibly have failed a test:

Them: “It no be possibly.”

Me: “Sorry, it yes be possibly.”

When this period ends in mid-June, there is a wave of relief as the pressure valve is released. After that, the university is generally full of both teachers and students looking forward to two months of summer. The second half of June is marked by a Senior Slide epidemic – the period when one’s major academic duties have been fulfilled and there are frolicking summer adventures ahead.

As a man who was both student and teacher in the last two years, I have been enjoying this senior slide phenomenon two-fold. With a school year of stress behind me and a summer of road trip adventure ahead of me, I am on cloud nine. I have looked at my bookshelf through teary eyes at the prospect of pleasure reading. And I have turned on the television for two hours of guilt-free viewing, only to fall into a deep content sleep with a bag of grapes on my belly.

The differences in To Do Lists in early June and in late June are as follows:

To Do List (June 1st)  








First 3 Chaps thesis to Doc. Z

Beg for death

Do Not Cry (you are a man!)

To Do List (June 15th)

Bring pillow from home

Chocolate at shop

Create nap-nook

Develop office dart game

Don’t poke out eyes during ‘Staple Darts’

I swear that I beat G to the copy machine, but the German professor calls G the winner by an armrest. And as we all know, slacking or not, nobody ever argues with a German professor. Ever. So, as loser I begin the long walk to the shop to buy concession cupcakes.

That’s OK; I’ll get the bastard at Staple Darts later.

  1. #1 by Lee on June 25, 2012 - 2:30 pm

    What does “2 months of summer” mean? I am no understanding you’ve!

  2. #2 by Chris on June 25, 2012 - 3:09 pm

    Great blog… Laughing the whole time.. up to and including Lee’s comment. “it yes be possibly’… hilarious.

  3. #3 by CK on June 25, 2012 - 3:39 pm

    Hurray, you made it, school’s out for summer! FYI, I always win the chair races at our school, despite being out of shape and (usually) the oldest contestant. There’s a secret . . . for a cupcake delivery I’ll share it with you.

  4. #4 by Andy on June 25, 2012 - 6:37 pm

    I didn’t realize it was possible to snort banana through one’s nose until I got to “yes, it be possibly.” Thanks for the Monday laugh.

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