Sunday, March 22, 2009

INSIDE HIRING: the parable of the faithful girlfriend not chosen as a wife

Once there was a man who was pretty successful in life, but he could not have done it without his faithful girlfriend. She fixed his breakfast, washed his clothes, took care of him when he was sick, bore his children and raised them well, and even helped him with his work when he fell behind.

She was wife in all but name and benefits. She didn't get on his health insurance, would inherit nothing when he dies, and when he went on vacation, he wouldn't take her.

One day, he announced that he wanted to finally get married. The girlfriend was giddy and asked, "When do I get the ring?"

"Well," he said, "I don't know that I'm going to marry YOU. But you are welcome to compete for the position. Just come down to the Harem Hut tomorrow.

When she arrived, she found that it was a strip club. The other women dancing in g-strings were young and thin and sleek, but the girlfriend had stretch marks from having the man's children and she had put on weight because she had often skipped going to the gym to help him catch up on his work. And when it was her turn to dance, she moved awkwardly about the stage in a manner that was hardly seductive at all, especially compared to the young women who still danced every night.

Then the man questioned all the women about how they would keep house and raise his children. The young women all said they would keep his as spotless as an operating room and his children would grow up to be presidents and Nobel Prize winning scientists. This pleased the man very much. When he asked his girlfriend of many years the same questions, "You know how I would clean your house because you have seen it every day. You know how I would raise your children because I already have. I don't know if any of them will win the Nobel Prize or be president, but they seem to be happy people, more successful than you or I, and they will care for us in our old age." Her answers were not as impressive, but undeniably true. Nonetheless, the man refused to judge based on what he had seen with his own eyes, and only take into account what the contestants said.

And so the man chose one of the young women and not the girlfriend who had served him faithfully for many years.

Within six months, the young woman had drained his bank accounts, stolen his car, filed for divorce, and sold one of his kidneys.

He called the girlfriend to his side and said, "I must find another wife. Give me a ride to the Harem Hut."

"Don't you think this a stupid way to choose a wife?" she said in exasperation.

"Nonsense," he said. "This is the best way to do it. Most of the young girls do not betray the men who choose them and sell their kidneys."

"Wouldn't it make more sense to choose me since I have served you faithfully for years?" she said.

"I would have," he said, "If you had answered the questions more artfully, lost some weight, and brushed up on your dance steps. But you are welcome to try again. Some of my friends have actually married their girlfriends, so it's not like it never happens."

She should not have come back because of his ungratefulness, but she had little choice since it was the custom of all the men in the land to ask prospective wives questions and grade their dances, and she was no longer young, so the men who didn't know her would not pick her in any case.

This time the man chose another young woman, and this one did not rob him, but really knew nothing about being a wife (in spite of her clever answers and seductive dance), so she asked the girlfriend what to do. The girlfriend helped her, and their children grew up as brothers and sisters and were equally successful in life, regardless of whether their mother was wife or the girlfriend. Sometimes when they were alone, the wife would even tell the girlfriend that if she ever decided to leave the man, she would tell him to marry the girlfriend.

The wife did leave him after they had been married long enough for her to get half the property in the divorce, but by then the girlfriend was dead, so her promise didn't matter.


This is what the hiring process is like for an adjunct. We serve an institution faithfully for years, teaching the same classes as our full time counterparts, serving on committees when we are allowed, and doing all the things faculty are supposed to do only without receiving the same rewards.

Then when it comes time to hire someone for a full time job, the hiring committee thinks they are doing us a great favor by giving us an interview and treating us exactly the same as someone they don't know. They don't often hire the person who steals their kidneys, but they will pick someone flashy and glib or bubbly because they are just out of grad school, only to then ask the part timer to tell the new full timer how to do their job--but they would NEVER lose their kidneys or hire someone who needed on the job training if they chose based on what they had seen over years instead of over a few minutes.

This is why community college districts must be required to offer full time jobs to part timers before they open it up to outside applicants.

And because hiring committees can't seem to tell the difference between a good life partner and a good lap dance.

1 comment:

Kim Stankewich said...

Nicely illustrated. I'm sold on the cause, but then I'm always up for a worthy uprising.