I am an idiot. Today I learned that I pulled off the biggest screw up in my life, at least of you calculate in dollars.
The Journalism Department hires part-time faculty on temporary full-time contracts called Limited Term Appointments, which can be renewed annually for a total length of three years maximum.
Leo, the other computer-savvy part-timer, is in his third year of his computer-assisted-reporting LTA and the department had invited me – with metaphorical frilly paper and lipstick kisses – to apply for the job next year. I hesitated at first, but decided I couldn’t really afford to pass it up.
As a part-timer, I can teach up to four courses a year and earn about $5,500 per course. The LTA pay is slightly better per course and requires the professor to teach six courses a year.
I got my recommendation letters in and on deadline day went to the department to turn in my application. The receptionist offered to put it in the department head’s mailbox but since I was going back there to check my mail anyway, I said I’d do it myself. The receptionist gave me an internal mail envelope for my letters.
I went to the back room, got my mail, and left the envelope.
I did not know the timing of the process, and I’ve had a busy month, so I forgot to worry about it.
Today, at the faculty meeting, we were told that the LTAs for next year were chosen and awaiting approval from the dean. I was surprised that I hadn’t been interviewed, which is normally a part of the process.
After the meeting, I checked my mailbox again.
I had put my application into my own pigeonhole, not the one belonging to the department head.
As said head commiserated with me once I realized what I’d done, “It might take more than one drink, but I’m sure at some point you’ll be able to have a laugh about this.”
That’s a $15,000 mistake at best, somewhat mitigated if I can hustle enough paid work to replace those hours. If the person who takes the LTA takes the courses I’m capable of teaching, it could be a $35,000 mistake. If the LTA takes my courses for the next three years, it’s a $100,000 mistake.
That’s a lot of rum.