Here I am winding down to the end of yet another school year, and reflecting on my peculiar life as an adjunct. When I finally finished my inordinately long doctoral thesis in 2004, I hoped I had finally built my launching pad to a good teaching job. Now it is six years later, and I still barely scrap together an existence as an part- time instructor in a community college. I have worked, for one term as an instructor at a second- tier university ( Oakland), however, almost all this time, i have been a toiler at Macomb Community College, getting by on approximately 14, 000 dollars a year. For a time , I had a good post doctoral fellowship from a think tank at the University of Virginia., but that has now run out ( it had a three year time limit).
My existence is a difficult one. I have never learned how to drive, and must depend on friends and family to take me places. I pay 350 dollars a month to a health insurance company that doesn't pay my most expensive medical bills. Fortunately, I have friends and family who love my virtues and tolerate my vices. If it were not for that, I would probably be knocking on the door of the nearest Trappist Monastery.
Why I do I persist? Why do I live in adjunct hell? ( And I will say that some of my colleagues have much more onerous lives than me.) Well, for one thing, my job is not without its gratifications. Most of my students like my teaching; in fact, they even love it. only afew days ago, one of my best students told me it was fun to have a teacher who just didn't drone from the textbook, and who discussed issues and ideas. Another student ( Who is Chief of Police in Port Huron .), wrote a letter of reccomendation for me in which he praised my passion for my subject and my ' quirky', but learned approach.
I will confess that I live for such gratifications. They remind me that I'm a teacher. Its just a shame that I am not adeuately compensated for my work.
One last problem. My college has not given me any classes to teach this summer. All the classes have been given to a senior, retired full -timer. That leaves me with no classes and no income. How do I propose to make it through the coming summer? Do I have any reasonable expectation of ever making a better life for myself?
That will have to wait for a future installment. Right now, I'm busy watching The Royal Wedding.