in which witness is borne: birds, politics, fiction and critical art theory

Dear Mr. Meanspirited English Professor:

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I know the emotional impact of seeing the website I designed with your bush-league looking research project as one of the 200 links included alongside many more professional-looking sites must have been profound. I know that you must have felt a sinking feeling when you saw that the link I included to your project was a crummy but still-functioning one from 2003, and it must have smarted when you Googled your own project and saw that old page still comes up first, which is why I even included it.

I can even understand, at that point, why you would want to pick over the entire site I designed, page after page, and compile a list of snivelingly trivial complaints which you could later use to justify arguing to my boss that the site--and by extension my being paid to create it--is "a waste of scarce resources." Some of those complaints, sir, I must admit are reasonable and I will probably work to remedy those problems.

But then--and I mean this in the most deferential of ways--you lost it, buddy. Saying that doing a good job on the site "would require someone with patience and subject expertise, neither of which is possessed by the person who designed this" is just downright frothing at the mouth. Calling my work "slipshod and amateurish" and suggesting I be replaced on the project immediately would sting if you were a webmaster OR if the work in question was, say, a dissertation on Chaucer. But you're an English prof and I'm the person they paid four hours a week to design something simple. Your emotional outburst, therefore, is a bit puzzling and a little embarrassing. For you.

Not that you intended for me to see it. For that I blame my boss. Which is another story, an even sadder one since I wasn't given a chance to defend myself from your screedy email attack. So you're not entirely at fault here for having lost control and sent a ridiculous, disproportionately angry note to someone about something relatively minor. You figured (or, to give you perhaps undeserved credit, hoped) the person you sent it to would have the decency not to forward it.

But said decency was absent here. So I have read it and I'll just wrap up here by asking: Did you really think anyone would miss the eensy weensy sentence in your email about the icky link to your own research project? Even my boss caught it and admitted it was probably what prompted you to write. Unfortunately for me, my job is now at risk because I failed to provide a more updated link to your work which is, presumably, hiding somewhere on the Net? Because a half hour of my amateurish, slipshod searching couldn't find it.

Ever Yours,
Mariya Strauss
6:57 PM :: ::
  • Oh, just f*** off you pompous PROFESSOR. As though a PhD means you can belittle those around you and pretend you know everything. What an arse.
    Next meeting with boss, try the blissed-out-staring-into-space trick and say, "Oh, I just felt the baby kick!"

    By Blogger Kan, at 11:58 AM  
  • What a creep! He must be really insecure about his project to react that way.

    By Blogger Eva, at 7:06 AM  
  • Thanks, ladies. I just sent a letter to my boss letting her know that if she allows these kinds of attacks on me from faculty, I can't continue to do the work. Here's hoping that a show of self-respect doesn't get me fired.

    By Blogger mar-mar, at 10:02 AM  
  • what a total schmuck!

    i hope yer boss catches a clue. when i worked university tech admin, i was fortunately backed by my boss, 'cause there's a whole culture of insecure professors who want nothing more than to lord their position over others.

    [tangent disclaimer!] i wanna make a comment about gender, though. you decribe him as frothing at the mouth… he sounds (from what you wrote) as shrill. but "shrill" is a word that is especially used to disparage and dismiss women's voices (justifiably or not), particularly when they are making waves (justifiably or not) like this self-aggrandized individual is. i humbly submit that instances such as this are an opportunity to employ the word "shrill" to a man's voice, and legitimate it as a descriptor applicable to men and women.

    By Blogger lex, at 4:35 PM  
  • Shrill is apt. Thank you Lex.
    However: rather than deploy additional adjectives to try and put Prof in his place, I prefer now to simply mourn for his lack of training in both manners and critical thinking. The coda here is that on assignment to revise the site I built, I am having to contact faculty all over the school for additional material for the site. This prof responded to this opportunity for adding constructively to whatever deficiencies he saw in the site by dismissing it, and me, yet again, and copying my boss. Again.
    So my new attitude (feels pretty good, actually) is:
    What. Ev. Er.

    By Blogger mar-mar, at 8:35 PM  
  • Hold the phone. Looks like it ain't over till the you know who sings...I received a call at work today from Señor Shrill himself, to tell me, in his beautifully accented Oxford-yet-German-inflected English that he is sorry I received his emails and that I was caught in the middle of a dispute between himself and my boss. Evidently I was not the intended target. Haha! So his bullying ways got back to him at last. I don't know who got my back, finally, but I'm just glad to have the apology.

    By Blogger mar-mar, at 1:12 PM  
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