Twenty-four years at the same job!


I began working at Brown University in August of 1987, a little more than twenty-four years ago.



If I make to my twenty-fifth anniversary next year – and then to January first of 2013! – I will receive a gift from the University: a chair, or a mirror, or a gift certificate. My choice! Also some extra vacation time, so that I can go shopping for a coffin.



Some years ago I hired an office assistant who was (at the time) just shy of her twentieth birthday. She was born in 1989, two years after I started at Brown.



And of course it continues. One of my recent student assistants, Noah, was born in 1991, only a little more than twenty years ago. (I think of this as the “Goodbye, Mister Chips” paradox: those of us who work in education keep getting older and older, whereas the students never age at all. The seniors graduate, and are replaced by freshmen, and so on, and so on. You keep hoping for the students to grow up and mature – and they never quite do, because as soon as they mature a little bit, they’re gone, and they’re replaced by new – and younger – and less mature – students.)



Ay caramba!



Noah finished his stint in the office in mid-August. He enjoyed his time with us, I think; it was his first summer job away from home, and he spent most of his weekends with his friends doing all kinds of young athletic acrobatic things. We all enjoyed him too, because he was young, and we liked listening to his stories: it was a chance for all of us to relive what it felt like to be young, and have the entire future be open before you.



“This isn’t bad,” Noah said one day. “Working, I mean.”



“Ah,” I said. “Because, for you, it has an end date. For me, not so much. The end date is probably when I die in my office chair.”



Noah laughed, but a little uneasily. He could hear the slight bitterness in my voice.



But what am I complaining about? I’m happy. I have a good job, in which I feel productive. I’m advancing the interests of a prominent university. I make enough money to get by.



But Noah is looking out into a future of infinite possibility.



And I am looking out into a future of – what? More of the same. Until I die of a stroke in my chair. Until –



Oh, let’s stifle that.



Here’s to another twenty-five years of the same!



About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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