Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Flexible Time

I have several friends who've left academe recently, some for secondary school teaching, some for other kinds of positions. People leave academe for all sorts of reasons, and though I'd note that all the people I know who are doing so seem to be women with children, I'm not sure it's because the academy is family-unfriendly in its essence. But I do know that the promise of flexibility which so many of us believe in often fails us. That is, we expect to be able to choose our schedules, to work at home in our pajamas on the days when we don't teach, to be available to our children for school drop-off and pick-up--and then, the department chair needs us to teach an 8:30 or a 4:15 class and there we are, just as tied to a schedule as anyone else.

But this is not, today, a lament. Because today my flexible schedule paid off. While I am inflexible in the afternoons, unable to pick Nick up from school more than once a week, if that, my mornings are often quite open. I teach late in the day but come in early, and thus get lots of unscheduled but necessary things done during normal people's actual working hours. This is a good thing.

The thing is, I don't have to be in at any particular time (well, until my office hours begin at ten, or my class at 12:30). So today, when for the first time Mariah and I missed her bus, I could take her in to school thirty miles away and not worry about missing my own class. We saw the bus driving away at 7:10, as we were still a block from her stop. (I won't go into my frustration about the bus driver's seemingly flexible schedule--some days he doesn't arrive until 7:15, other days he leaves at 7:05.) We went to the stop anyway, just in case it was another bus, but it wasn' we just got on the highway and I drove her in to school. Round trip: one hour, thirty minutes; $1.25 in tolls; and don't even think about the price of gas (less than it would have been last month, anyway).

Next semester I have an 8:15 class so all my flexibility will be at the end of the day, and if she misses the bus I don't quite know what we'll do. But this is the first time it's happened in a year and a half, so maybe we'll dodge that particular bullet for another long while.

1 comment:

Becca said...

Enjoy it, ma'am. Mariah goes to school 30 miles away?!