Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Secret to a Long Life

Yesterday was my last Monday at my old job.  Today will be my last Tuesday.  In short, this is my last week at the workplace where I've gone each week since 2002.  It's a strange feeling.  I've only ever left a job this way once, and that was to move to a different state, several states away.

When I left that job, back in 1998, there wasn't as much prep work--I was in charge of my own English classes, and I left at the end of a semester, so I didn't need to worry about those classes.  I didn't have my own work computer, so there weren't computer files to clean up.  I packed my books and other possessions, and I was done.

This week, and the several before it, I have been sorting through both computer files and paper files.  The paper files are easiest, in many ways.  Will the next person in my office need the instructions for how to make the phones work?  My handwritten notes on each RIF?  Old assessment materials which eventually are transformed into Institutional Effectiveness reports?

The computer files are harder.  I inherited the hard drive of my predecessor.  At first, I thought that every file should be saved, but then as I looked through them, I realized that they wouldn't be important.  For most of the files, I couldn't even tell you why they were kept, what initiative they addressed.

I do have syllabi for most General Education classes going back to 1999.  I saved them.  I rarely consult them, but they're good to have.

Even my own files, from a far more recent time, hardly seem worth keeping.  Will we need the ACICS files?  Will that accrediting agency even exist in the U.S. after their appeal is decided?

I am also writing up some of the processes I follow:  how to report the Math grades (don't even ask--it truly is complicated), how to analyze transfer credits from other schools, and so on.  I've thought of the times I have asked my students to write a process essay, the hardest kind to write, I think.

I'm remembering the easiest $50 I ever made, back in grad school days.  I sat in front of a computer to test the user's manual.  I was to follow the directions exactly.  I couldn't proceed because the directions didn't tell me to turn on the computer.  One minute of my time, $50 in my pocket.

I'm doing other things too.  I changed our dentist appointments to happen this week, when I'm sure of our dental insurance.  I plan to vote early tomorrow, just to be sure.  I prefer to vote on the actual election day, but I will be in my second week at my new job, and I don't want to risk it--some years, we've had to wait in quite a line to vote. 

I'm also trying to enjoy a laid-back pace this week.  At my new job, we are gearing up for an accreditation visit from what we hope will be the new accrediting agency--my new school is not waiting for the results of the ACICS debacle to be final.  At my new school, the process is fast-tracked, which means I will hit the ground running.

It's a strange, bittersweet time.  It's easier to make a job move when one is leaving the state.  I'm not moving, but I do know how much more difficult it is to keep in touch when one is no longer in the workplace.

Still, it's time to go.  There's a Michelle Shocked song, "The Secret to a Long Life is Knowing When It's Time to Go," off of her wonderful Arkansas Traveler CD.  That's been playing in my head--and now it's time for my Tuesday walk with a friend to the beach. 

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