Wednesday 30 September 2020

Last train to flapjackville

I was up betimes yesterday and drove into The Institute for the last time on the payroll. I had made a slab of flapjacks and left them into the office. Much as people will miss getting home-made cookies on an irregular basis, to the nearest whole number none will take up that baking tray and run with it. The vultures had already descended on the fragments of my teaching toolkit. When I cleared my desk at the beginning of the month, I had left a yard of books which I couldn't justify bringing home and by yesterday's end half of them had been re-homed. Win!

To get a new key cut there, you have to indent in triplicate and get the request countersigned by your Head of Department and counter-countersigned by the Head of School. Even then delivery takes months. Over the last 8 years, I have scavenged, ordered and stolen a set of keys to almost all the science labs. Apart from the key to my [shared] office, I never considered these to be mine. Rather I made a set of key-fobs and hung them on a little dinky row of hooks above my desk so that any colleague who needed access knew where to get the key. Four of those keys are now on someone's personal key-ring; 3 of them to one person who has been working there for three years and has yet to succeed in getting their own key to the lab they use every week. Win!

I have also bequeathed my Lab Cornucopia: a xerox box in a Tesco bag [perfick fit] . . . everything a chap might need for teaching class in a biology lab: lighters for the Bunsens; pens for marking Petri dishes; two packets of craft-knife blades to supplement . . . a dissection kit with scalpel, tweezers, dissecting scissors, probes and weirdly a cut-throat razor; a couple of wooden wedges for keeping the door open and welcoming; a collection of pens, pencils and rules; erasers; masking tape; scotch-tape; string; drawing pins. Win!

The students are more or less back on campus, although the place will be a bit tumbleweed this year because so many classes and being delivered on line. But I was in the same room as 8 of the Yr1 Pharmacy Technicians, all physically distanced, for part of their induction / orientation. I'll be in the same virtual room as the whole set tomorrow for my 1st and last two lectures via Blackboard-Collaborate. It's not the same.

I went to The Office to thank the Admins for many years of being proactive, tolerant, supportive and sassy. You don't  have to buy their sweetness with cookies but it does no harm. I'd just about wrapped up there when my HoD walked in from another meeting. I was able to compliment her for being The Best line-manager I'd ever had: efficient, kind, door-open, supportive, accommodating and appreciative. It's a task that gets few enough thanks and little enough appreciation: when things run smoothly we tend to take it for granted. But only part of smooth running is due to the inertia of forward momentum in the same old rut. I wouldn't do her job for any money.

That's a wrap I said and started off for home. Only to realise, when I stopped to buy a crate of booze groceries, that I'd left my coat behind in the office. Luckily the office door was still open but everyone had gone home, so I didn't have to reprise my departure. 

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