Guest author – Who to Anger, and Who NOT to Anger, at a University

Now that it is back-to-school, it’s the perfect time for our Guest Author to provide some helpful warnings (with petit help from moi with the color commentary)

Let’s say you are a college dean. And you are not honest and in a bad mood, on whom should you take your frustrations out? On whom should you unleash your petty, childish sensibilities? A math professor? Yes! Have at it! They usually don’t notice people and if they get mad, what are they going to do? Hurl a pencil? Scribble an equation on a piece of paper, ball it up and fling it at you?

Take on the education professors with impunity – they will take out their frustrations by writing lesson plans.

What revenge are chemistry profs capable of? None. Will they lure you towards a Bunsen burner and singe your cell phone? Never. Lab safety is too ingrained. There is zero chance of them tossing beakers or releasing poisonous gases in your office. They may mutter at you, as they pass you in the halls wearing their stained lab coats, but they are not cooking up toxic cocktails to pass you at the next college meeting.

Of course, you should stay clear of irritating the computer profs. They will break into the mainframe and peruse your personal files until they find something worth black-mailing you with. Or they will hack your laptop and cause havoc: your e-mails deleted, your files scrambled, your photos erased and your bank accounts emptied.

And who should you be most careful not to attack? Language and literature professors! We are a gentle folk – give us a decent schedule and an office with a window and we are good to go. Nod politely to us in the hallways, provide excellent copy machines, fund the library and there will be peace in the valley. Yes, we can take committee minutes and proof-read your ridiculous memos.

But there are limits. Do not cross us for we swim in metaphors. We have spent decades reading the sharpest wits who have concocted the most biting insults and the most twisted revenges. You were doing what… working on feasibility studies, arguing over the budget for whiteboards, proposing new majors and ironing out the registration schedule? We were reading how scribes took down the Roman Empire and proto-language professors wrote broadsheets that brought down monarchies.

We have Machiavelli, Lucrezia Borgia, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Count of Monte Crisco on speed-dial; we have maxims from the Art of War tattooed on our bodies. Who do you think took down Rasputin? Guards? Soldiers? Someone from the government? No! It was a badly mistreated literature lecturer from St Petersburg University.

If you dare attack us, we will come up with the cruelest nick-names for you. We will generate machinations that would make Michael Corleone blush. We, unlike those kindly simpletons in Social Work, wield irony like a stiletto. We will send you kindly messages saying that we did not quite understand your last memo and could you please make your point a little more clearly?

Rile us up and we will publicly vivisect the grammar of your ‘welcome to the new semester’ message and correct your pronunciation during public speeches. Clutching our mini-replicas of the Gutenberg press we will invade your office to discuss pronoun usage for hours on end.

You have been warned.