Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Verrrry interesting....

Summer sessions are normally low-key and, dare I say it, boring. Not this week!

Firstly, going back to work after vacation sucks. Second, going back to work only to have to deal with fall semester procedural crap  (book orders, registration drama, departmental bullshit) sucks harder than an Electrolux. I girded my loins and headed to campus to handle paperwork.

I pulled on to campus only to see the Lib Arts classroom building tented. There was a triangular flap pinned back in  the general area of the faculty entrance. Inside there was a coat rack, festooned with surgical masks, and a sign on the wall: "All entrants must wear a mask to proceed."

Wrong building for any out-of-control chem or bio mishaps...no one had contracted yersina pestis (that I'd heard through the grapevine, at any rate) and there were no faculty trips to exotic, parasite-ridden locales on the calendar. As this is the building I do most of my teaching in, and that the faculty offices are attached to, my interest was piqued. I donned a mask and proceded in. Warily. (OK, I was pretending to be in a video game like "Left 4 Dead," "BioShock," or "Silent Hill. Sue me -- one of the Deans totally resembles Pyramid Head.)

I asked Old Crusty, the departmental secretary, what was up. She rolled her eyes. "They decided to remodel a bit and discovered that the floor tiles contained asbestos. Supposedly non-friable and not a risk, but...six weeks to remediate."

What, I asked, was I to do about the fact that I am teaching a summer session in one of the classrooms at the far end of one contaminated hall? No one had informed me of a classroom change...

"Yeah," Crusty replied. "Tell everyone to grad a mask, run down the hall -- tell 'em not to dawdle! -- and keep the classroom door shut and the windows open. 'S only a few weeks."

Are you shitting me? Seriously? A top-floor corner classroom that has floor-to-ceiling windows on two of four walls, with already-anemic A/C (it's routinely in the low 80's when the air con is actually working)...have myself and all the students sprint down a hall and up six flights of stairs, only to slam a classroom door shut and hope there's enough breeze to keep us from expiring of heat exhaustion?

I re-donned my mask to leave the building, and then wandered over to facilities and made a quick copy of the "Occupied/Unoccupied" schematic. Then I went to the Registrar's Cave, dodged a few stray bats and low-hanging stalactites, and filed a change-of-room request. There were only a dozen classrooms open...this should not be a problem, right?

Three phone calls and a memo storm later, I got my new classroom. With two hours to spare! I papered the outside of the tent with change-of-room notices, sent out a mass e-mail, and hoped that my students would actually pay attention to their environs long enough to come to the new classroom in a different building.

A minor miracle -- 3/4ths of them actually did! Though I got home to several e-mails ("Dude. Was class cancelled?" "Where was everyone?") Interestingly enough, not a single one of the absentees thought to ask about the giant tent...


  1. "They decided to remodel a bit and discovered that the floor tiles contained asbestos. Supposedly non-friable and not a risk, but...six weeks to remediate."

    Funny how the very word "asbestos" is sufficient to induce frissons these days.

    Fibrous asbestos is truly nasty stuff - mesothlioma, anyone? But when it's bound into building materials like tiles or concrete it's pretty inert. There's a wiring duct in my house that's made of asbestos concrete; I put a couple of coats of paint on it afterwe moved in but it's otherwise inoffensive.

    However (and there's always a "however", isn't there?) when the stuff's being broken up, as in a remodeling project, some caution is, in fact, warranted. And we don't want some litigious parent suing Small But Wonderful Catholic U into the ground, do we?

    On balance, I'd say the inconvenience is probably worthwhile.

  2. Better you than me... Bless you for putting up with that crap!

  3. "Bioshock"?

    Would you kindly...


Play nicely with others, or eat banhammer.