A Valuable Lesson about Contracts before Declining Other Offers

Last week, I was geeked about being offered Business Writing and Technical Writing at campus #3, the nearby community college (through email, contingent on an interview). During the interview, both the chair (who will be teaching in London in the spring) and the co-chair greeted me with enthusiasm. As I sat on the couch, they casually asked about my experience teaching at a community college in another state (I loved it, except the hour long drive), if I knew so-and-so in Sociology who died (I did not), what I’m doing now (teaching at campuses #1 and #2), who the dean is at campus #1 (Yes, Bob is still there), who the other one is who deals with transfers (The Associate Dean), me being a poet (why, yes, I am), if I had heard of their journal (I had and am impressed with its quality), and would I be interested in teaching both Technical Writing and Business Writing (of course).

“We will have a better idea of the schedule next week. There has been some recent changes regarding faculty members.”

They casually mentioned that a third class might be available, which I hoped to be a creative writing course. I went home and checked the course schedule, and indeed, there was an unstaffed Introduction to Creative Writing course.

Upon finding this out, I emailed the woman at the pharmacy school to decline my interview, which was scheduled at 1:30p the following day. There were two candidates, she had stated, and there is a possibility of a second section of the researched argumentation class opening. I wrote that I did not want to take the opportunity away from candidate #2, in case he or she has room to cover 2 sections. She wished me luck.

The following Tuesday, I was emailed by the co-chair with an offer for one class (Technical Writing) only. I was confused.

“That is all we can offer at this time.”

I checked the schedule again, and sure enough, the Business Writing course had been offered to someone else, an adjunct faculty with seniority. The creative writing course and a couple of developmental writing courses were still unstaffed, so I emailed the co-chair and chair, indicating how thrilled I was to be offered the Technical Writing course (evening class), that I would be by the next day to pick up the materials and to fill out my new-hire paperwork. I also reiterated my availabilities during the day and asked to be considered for any other open courses.

“There is a section of developmental writing on TR 11:30-12:50p. I assume this is too early for you.”

“No, my class at campus #1 ends an hour before. I’ll have plenty of time to get to your campus for this class.” (Truly, it’s 45 minutes in between and about 20 minutes away without traffic.)

If I ever need an example of desperation to look back upon, here it is. I half-way blame myself for trusting the verbal offer, but I’m livid about their lack of consideration. Why build up my expectations for two, possibly three classes? True, they did not know I was considering another offer, but they wouldn’t have cared. I am disposable, after all.

I considered emailing the woman at the pharmacy school again. She had sent an urgent plea on Wednesday to my MFA program director for applications to fill the position I turned down. I decided against it for my sanity. I cannot put myself through teaching at 3 colleges at faraway locations (north, west, and south of a sprawling metropolitan) with 4 class preps and 5 classes AND expect to job search and prepare for an out-of-state relocation by summer 2011.

I’m only one human.

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