Last weekend, amidst working on a couple of manuscripts and reviews etc. in the office and at home (not to mention doing some overtime thinking), I did some work around the house and garden. While I was rummaging in the garden, a neighbor stopped by to tell me that she works so hard during the week that she doesn't have the energy to work on her house/yard and it must be nice to have an easy job like mine.
I decided not to tackle the issue of whether or not I have an easy job. I just said Yes, it's a great job.
Her job could well be stressful, involve working with awful people, and/or require strict working hours that leave her exhausted on the weekend. My reply to her was therefore sincere. I do have a great job. She has no idea how much or how hard I work, but much of what I do I enjoy, so it could well be that her 40 hours/week in the office of a furniture store is more tiring than my 60+ hours/week in an academic job.
On this particular occasion with this particular neighbor, my goal was to end the conversation as soon as possible, but I was left with the feeling that I had somehow let the side down (← sports analogy!). I may even have reinforced her image of slacker professors leading a life of (smug) leisure.
If one's goal were to generate widespread admiration and respect for the professoriate, is it better to convey the impression that a faculty position:
- is a great job (for whatever reason; flexible hours, interesting work etc.) that leaves one some leisure time, or
- is such an extraordinarily taxing job requiring so many long hours of intense thinking that yard work becomes appealing?
What if both are true?
7 months ago