Notes on a Day Job, or, How to Be an Adjunct Professor

by Sayantani Dasgupta

1. When I was eighteen, the most boring professor in the world taught me American history. She was a scholar, yes, laden with more degrees than the earth has tectonic plates, but an inspiring teacher, that she was not. At the designated hour every day, she entered our classroom, sheathed in yet another handwoven sari, in colors as vibrant as fire and cinnamon. She glanced around the room giving us all the benefit of her gaze, and I suspect, the time to admire her exquisite taste in wardrobe and hand-forged silver jewelry. She set down her purse, seated herself and took attendance. And then she opened her notebook and began to read. For fifty minutes, thrice a week, our classroom saturated with the sing-song quality of her voice, interspersed with the furious scratching from pens that truly cared and those that only pretended. Our hands got a reprieve when one of the front benchers asked her a question. But the moment she delivered the answer, she returned to her notebook—drawn by some umbilical attachment that only she understood—and the space between our ears plugged up again with the droning static of her voice. I glanced at my watch, at the clock above her head, at the pages of my own notebook, where lived the newest doodle of her face with a foghorn for a mouth. The window next to my seat shimmered the pristine lawn outside and whispered enticing words such as “freedom” and “independence,” and I vowed, for the millionth time, to never become a college professor.(More …)