The office of the French TAs

September 14th, 2012 § 3 comments § permalink

is strewn with scraps of energy bar wrappers. Six of us share twelve chairs on casters, usually disposed with random cliquishness, like strangers at a cocktail party. There are three desktops and two printers, none of which work; a dead phone, and through a locked door the gurgle of a boiler. Equipment has crawled here to die: monitors, bookends, the hard discarded core of a roll of scotch tape… The unlabeled cabinets hold umbrellas, tote bags, stacks of dittos; who can say if these were stored this morning or left behind last year? A few coffee mugs, ringed with ageless residue, pin down used paper plates in an upended box top by the door.


children will be

given espresso

and a free puppy.

reads a photocopied sign. On one shelf old pedagogies slump mummified in old editions beside paperback classics used bookstores would refuse. The torn cardboard sleeve of a case of Diet Coke completes the picture.

The office is tucked far from anywhere students would logically look, in a corner of the Asian Studies warren two floors above the French department. It is no office, but a den; it has no odor but reeks visually of nervous sweat, all-nighters, desperation, deadlines, bachelorhood; it is a windowless bunker with fickle cell and wifi reception where you would barricade yourself, with planks of particle board and crippled chairs, against the rabid hordes. Or else the makeshift HQ of reporters in the field, where stringers stop to wire stories and check the telex. We need a cot in here, a crank radio, and a kit in a metal box with a large red cross.

UPDATE: The computers and printers now work.

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