by Nicole Imbracsio
To those of you returning to Clark from a long hard summer; welcome back to the disillusionment. For those of you new to the facade; cherish every moment.
Like many of you, I am returning from a summer that was filled with frustration, lacked imaginations, and seemed to last far more than four months. In other words, I worked.
This summer, in the quest to earn more money, I signed on with a Temporary Personnel Agency in Boston. I was assigned various employment positions in hospitals and law firms that I found to be both challenging and stimulating: challenging my patience and stimulating nausea. But, at $10.50 an hour, nausea isnÕt so bad.
I worked in Neurosurgery Department in a Boston hospital for three weeks where I was transcribing doctorsÕ notes. I sat in an uncomfortable chair in a room that gave me flashbacks of Bullock Hall-- only smaller-- typing about sciatic nerves and C6-C7 disc herniations for eight hours. However, the work was generally interesting (like when I learned of a seventy year old man who visited the doctor because he thought he had a stroke while having sex with his wife-- when he really had just experienced an orgasm) and I was nearly content until I was asked to help with filing in the offices.
One of the doctors, I'll call him Dr. Wanker, was complaining to a nurse about what a horrible day he had had. The nurse questioned why his day had been so unpleasant and he replied that he had just performed a "free disc herniation surgery." This means that his patient had applied and received Hospital Aid, it also means that Dr. Wanker did not get paid his usually outrageous fee. "I wouldnÕt mind," Dr. Wanker said, "but, in my opinion, she did not even deserve it." The reason that Dr. Wanker did not feel that his patient deserved this service was because she was a recovered drug
addict. A disc herniation, from what I can tell from the doctors' notes, is a very painful experience. I know I am not a brain surgeon, but in my opinion, no one deserves to be in pain.
I was about to get up and state my point of view to Dr. Wanker, but stopped myself very quickly. I suddenly remembered that this office was not a Clark classroom and that if I was prepared to make such a statement, I should also be prepared to find myself a new job.
This summer I broke that promise we all make to ourselves: "I am never going to sacrifice my happiness, piece of mind, or ethics for money." Well, kiddies, when the whip comes down... money wins out.
When the work being done is so meaningless to you and you return home void of any sort of feeling of accomplishment. When you watch the people you work with, and your stomach turns in disgust because they all hate where they are, what they do, and they are just going through the motions, it's then you realize that this is life. You are going to graduate and be thrown into this capitalistic society and forced to claw for survival.
For example, a friend a mine, spent the summer earning money at a factory inspecting three-ring-binders. After working there for seven weeks, she was very motivated to come back to Clark. The people she worked with never relented in reminding her to work hard in school so that she wouldn't end up like them.
Ellen has no intentions of working in a three-ring-binder factory for the rest of her life, she is an Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) major. But after telling her my story, she was a bit scared at what else she may have to look forward to.
We realized this summer that we cannot do it. That we refuse to do it. But deep down inside we know we will, because we have to.
I know I will work the nine to five, I will own a bus pass, I will shop for suits and get excited on Fridays because it's "casual day." I know I will participate in that meaningless and all too familiar "It's-finally-Friday & thank-god-it's-the-weekend" shit chat, and spend my days in climate control. I will be forced to make that involuntary transformation from a place where I am accepted for who I am, where my ideas are encouraged, and my curiosity stimulated; to a place where my behavior and appearance is dictated, where my ideas are worthless, and my imagination is raped.
I will have to accept that I will never have friends like the ones I have now. In the workplace there are no close relationship and no one engages in conversation. In fact, one day I was standing in the subway station and I overheard a group of Young Urban Professionals--not one over 28-- that were intently discussing what names they would give their dogs... if they had one. Is this my future? A future where no one talks about the news, books, movies, or music? Where you can be sure that if people are speaking in hushed tones they are not talking about an intimate part of their private lives, but rather, Lulu, the secretary down the hall, who repeatedly puts stapled paper in the recycling bin.
Clark claims that it prepares us for the world beyond the classroom, as do many other institutions of higher learning. But the reality is that desensitized doctors, three ring binder factories, and a life devoid of meaning may be what we have to look forward to with. Clark does not train you to be the good soldier that the world is waiting for. It readies you for the utopian society of academia and has you believe that everyone cares about your personal philosophy on the the comparative politics of Britain and Mexico... they don't. They want you to get those 42 arbitrations copied and sent to the 21st floor before lunch.
Welcome to the disillusionment of college. Welcome back to your sweet brief spell of bliss.