I work harder than ANYBODY else!

9 Jan

So now CNBC comes up with a list of least stressful jobs and puts “university professor” toward the top of the list. And my colleagues, rear their heads from their piles of papers to grade or research results to analyze and react with outrage or sighs of resignation at the naivete of such an accusation.

But we shouldn’t be surprised. In my observation, EVERYBODY thinks he or she works harder than ANYBODY else.

The general public may look at professors’ schedules — nine hours actually in class each week — and think we’ve got THE cushiest of cushy jobs, not understanding the amount of time we put into class prep, grading papers, meeting with students, trying to advance our research projects, speaking to interested groups about that research, serving on university and community committees and task forces and on and on.

I think, though, that it’s just a manifestation of what nearly all of us feel: I work harder than ANYBODY else. Why do we think that?

I’m no psychologist, but it seems to me it’s because we know what we do. We know how many hours we put in on various parts of our job or jobs. We do not know as much about what anybody else does. And so, if we see a person relaxing occasionally or if we don’t fully understand what his or her job entails, we are quick to say, “See! That guy doesn’t work nearly as hard as I do.”

I’m so tired of this story in all its permutations that I want to scream. It’s up to someone’s immediate supervisor to determine if an employee in any field is slacking off. It’s not up to me — and it is certainly not up to me when I have no evidence to support my knee-jerk reaction.

It’s selfishness, self-righteousness and jealousy that drives most of these comments, and I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR THEM ANYMORE!


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