In this month's Catalyst piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education, to appear next week(ish), I discuss dual-career couples. As I was working on this essay, I decided to make headings of particular topics, and then I decided at some point to alphabetize the headings. Then I realized that I had quite a few headings, nearly the entire alphabet. Well, it was a quick leap from there to deciding to do a complete A to Z of dual-career couple topics; a framework that alternately pleases and disturbs me.
Anyway, that's what I did, and, because a certain annoying type of minor incident happened to me two (2) times today, I include here the relevant entry for the letter O*:
Offices. There are many nice things about being in a dual-career couple that has successfully landed two jobs in the same place. There are also continuing challenges, and minor annoyances. An example of the latter is when colleagues or students are looking for my spouse but can’t find him, so they come to my office and ask me where he is. Thus far, I have confined my responses to polite answers (most typically: “I have no idea”), but a few times I have looked under my desk and in a drawer, then announced “Well, he doesn’t seem to be here.” I have been tempted to get a leash and hold it up when asked the “Where is your husband?” question and say “Oh no! He’s off the leash again!”, but have not yet done so.
* This is the original text. An editor had a go at the text and changed a few minor things. For example, when it appears in The C of HE next week, the last phrase will appear as "Somehow I have resisted the urge".
In today's two situations, I found myself saying "He's around", so at least the person asking knew that he was in town and, if they only looked harder and longer, they would surely find him. I don't usually want to be so helpful in these cases, but in this case I liked the two people who asked me.
I don't know how many readers find themselves in this situation, but if you do: Are you polite or not-so-polite? Are you helpful or not helpful? Perhaps it depends on the situation; e.g., Do you want to help the particular person who is interrupting your day to ask where your spouse is or would you prefer to be unhelpful?
There are probably non-spousal analogies of this situation, particularly for people who have conveniently located offices, so that people tend to stop by and ask about the current location of someone else in the building, saving themselves a trip upstairs (or wherever) but interrupting your work.
6 months ago