The Business Model
Eddie James Girdner
1. Off the Deep End
4. Midas Celestial University
5. First Day
6. The Dean
7. Bread and Butter
8. The Rector
10. The CEO
11. Deniz University
12. The Aids Test
13. The Meeting
14. The Fix
15. The Ceremony
17. The Dissertation
18. Rapt in Awe
19. Mergers and Acquisitions
23. The Consultation
24. Tourism 101
25. The Christian
26. The Invigilation
27. The Business Model
28. Chasing Hope
29. The Great Escape
30. Citizen Jed
31. Back to High School
32. The Espionage
33. Take This Job and Shove It
34. The Right Thing
35. Exam Chaos
36. Sentimental Journey
37. Last Days
38. Long Nightmare
39. Strip Mining
Chapter One: Off the Deep End
As he steered the car around the narrow mountain curves, Jed Singer still wondered how he could lose his job and his professorship by becoming a citizen of the country he was living in. It was something that no one had ever been able to explain to him. But it had happened, just the same. The Rector of Deniz University claimed that he could not renew his contract after he became a citizen of Aslanistan, although the university was careful not to give any reason for denying him a new contract. He had tried to work through the maze of Byzantine bureaucracy but it proved to be impossible in time to get a new contract for the fall semester. The only solution was to leave the country if he wanted to work.
This had been a long and tiring day that had taken a lot out of him and his wife. Even though they had done most of the packing the day before, there were many things that had to be taken care of to secure the house and get on the road. Now they were on their way to a new job outside the country. This required a day and a half drive to the sea port of Turuncu and then an overnight ferry boat to Chaos, a small island which had become a haven for offshore universities. Especially private ones run on the business model. These degree mills catered to students who could not gain admission elsewhere and pumped money into the defunct economy of Chaos.
Much of the last two weeks had been spent preparing for the trip. Jed and his wife, Zeynep, spent a week packing clothes and other belongings and shipping them. The rest had to go into the small car. There were bills to pay and arrangements to make to take care of the house they were leaving behind. All tiring work in the August heat. At their age, they did not have the energy of youth. The whole venture was uncertain, but Jed had never shied away from new ventures. He had never been one to settle in one place and stay for the duration.
The first day of getting on the road was always a chore. The final things had to be loaded into the car. The house prepared and secured. Once they were off, however, it was pleasant. The road rose over a high mountain pass and then back to the sea again. There were roadside stands where hot tea was sold and boiled sweet corn in big cauldrons on top of a smoking stove next to the road. He enjoyed the drive and the gorgeous scenery with high peaks and occasional patches of snow even in late summer. Once down the mountain and back to the coastal road, they had to pass through a couple of growing small cities. The influx of tourists had led to a boom in hotels and beach clubs. He remembered the area twenty years before and was amazed at the progress. So called. The progress disease, that is, which had wiped out lovely areas. Too bad, this money influx that wiped out everything for fast bucks. Now ostentatious hotels with onion topped domes for Russian tourists had replaced fields and rural villages. Fly em in, fleece em, and ship em back, Jed thought. Bake em and soak em and get em laid and they’ll be back next year for more. The so -called tourist industry. What a racket.
After a long hot drive, they arrived at the small coastal town of Muzlu, famous for its local bananas. They settled in the Romania Hotel for the night. It too was new and sanitary but primarily catered to local tourists and travelers. This town, while lovely on the sea, was a little too remote for foreign tourists. But that was likely to change once the new road was put through. The development disease was about to spread.
What the fuck, he thought. There were two sides to it. It didn’t really matter too much any-more. He had been through a lot. He wouldn’t be making the trip if it had not been for that piggy dean, Abdurrezzak Bey. A conservative old religious asshole who did not like foreigners. Was he Boko Haram? Due to old pig jowls, his contract had not been renewed. He knew he was behind it. This fat porker, Professor Abdurrezzak Odun, had given him a hard time. Put him into impossible bureaucratic wrangles and then kept chuckling about it. He was, after all, a politician and knew how to screw people. The royal treatment right up the ass. The Midas touch, or more like the mid-ass touch? Now he was on his way to Midas Celestial University, perhaps not a good omen, that name. It was a hell of a name for a university.
Jed could see him now. His fucking old bald head. His fat piggy jowls. The big round mound of his fat belly sticking out. His fat hands and little stubby fingers. When he lectured to his young faculty members, making some stupid point in intense sincerity, his short ugly fingers kept poking at the air in front of him. His jowls shook with rabid fanaticism. He was wiping out sin, purging humanity of anything which smacked of being the least bit human. His young assistants sat in front of him, timidly, afraid to say anything. They had to pay deference to him, regardless of what they were thinking. They seemed to soak it up. Another fool, a fucking fool. God, such assholes just seemed to pop out of the wall. The lord will provide. The staff members were victims in a country where one had to keep their real ideas under wraps. Jobs in universities were not all that plentiful. A real university, it was not. One had to bow to the social and political culture. Most of all, those religious assholes liked money. God, how they liked money.
Jed had not realized when he took the job just who Odun was. Not actually an academic, but a politician who was now out of office. Odun had been a minister once in a backward, conservative political party that had come to power some years before. Now he was featherbedding there in a big office, his desk piled high with cheap dogma from religious sects. Tarikats. When not in his office, he was dispensing wisdom on a small religious TV channel. He was part preacher, part professor, part politician, fully asshole. A professional asshole. When food was placed in front of him, he ate like a pig his round belly swelling as he chortled at his cleverness.
It had put Jed in the lurch, being out of the job. He needed a few more years of teaching to qualify for his retirement. Being secular and having a brain at all was tantamount to being a communist to Abdurrezzak Bey. Moreover, Jed was an American. A Westerner. It had all fallen apart. His whole career. The pretext was a stupid bureaucratic technicality but Jed knew that was not the real reason he was being kicked out. It was a convenient tool which Odun had latched onto and engaged his friends in the Higher Education Council (CRAP) to cleanse the university of a dangerous renegade with dangerous communist ideas. The Council to Reform Aging Professors, as Jed thought of it. Reform them or ream them. Something along that line.
It was crazy, just fucking crazy. He had become a citizen of the country to make it easier to live there and somehow this supposedly disqualified him for being a professor in a country where he had taught for many years as a full professor. He couldn’t prove it but was pretty sure it had all been arranged by the piggy dean. It must have been him who brought that pack of bureaucrats from the CRAP Ministry. They spent three days pouring through his documents. They would find something.
What it meant was going through an unbelievable maze of bureaucracy to get the professorship back, which he had earned once already years ago. Kafka would have been amused. And probably it was all illegal as well, illegal as hell, but he had not been able to find out. In any event, legality no longer meant anything since the religious party had consolidated power. That lawyer at the university had told him he would win the case if he went to court. On the other hand nothing would happen to correct it, even if he burned himself on the front steps of the university, he said. Such was the tangle of bureaucracy in the country. Laws seemed to be made for the purpose of screwing people.
It had been a shock. The day the Rector called him in and spilled the news to him that he was “illegal.” Illegal? How the hell am I illegal? Jed had wanted to ask. We’ll have to make you an assistant professor, the Rector told him. Or perhaps a part-timer.
The Rector informed him that it was because he had become a citizen of the country. Now he would have to start all over and climb the academic ladder again, step by step. Becoming a professor as a foreigner cut no ice whatsoever, once one had become a citizen of the country. Could it be the case? It was like getting hit by a truck.
He figured the best bet was to head for a job in Chaos. That is where he had been his whole career, anyway, philosophically speaking. Once in Chaos, always in Chaos. That way he could fill up his last three years and retire and avoid the horrible prospect of being kicked back to teaching as an assistant professor, after being a professor for years in the country. In Chaos they would still accept his professorship.
That was the practical side of it. The other side was that it was just an adventure. A lark. Nothing to lose at this point. Enjoy the weather and the sea. But he was getting a little old for adventures, especially of this type. He had been through it more than twenty years ago but there had been a lot of water under the bridge since then.
Jed sent his CV to some of the degree mills on the island and one of the universities had offered him a position beginning in September. Everything was tailored to cost the university the least money, of course. The applicant would bear the costs of travel, moving, and getting set up. Jed was headed to the paradigm new style of university that was known as “the business model.”
One does what they have to do in life, Jed thought. He would find a way through, one way or another. Fuck’ em. They would not keep him down. In his year off, he had kicked ass, having time to take care of some publishing. There was first the novel that he kicked out. It had not yet been published, of course, but it got a load of shit off his mind. He could put a lot of his thoughts in a work that was only partly fiction. But there was always the possibility someone might want to publish it. That had been fun and maybe something might be done with it.
However, he did get his old dissertation published. It came about when he had to get a copy for the bureaucracy. He spent a couple of months revising his text book which had been in print now for almost twenty years. He wrote up his memoirs of two years in India and got the book published. This was in addition to a series of short articles and review essays that he published in various journals. It had been a fruitful time in that respect. The fucking bureaucrats would not keep him down.
Now he would go back to teaching for a time and hoped that he could get his retirement in a few years. It seemed to be the best way to approach rehabilitation.
He ate another couple of the bananas from the big bunch they had bought at the little tea stand along the road. It did not make his stomach feel any better. He had already devoured quite a number of the happy fucking fruits. The small road curved around through the coastal mountains and through small banana plantations. He loved driving there, except for the large trucks with big loads that blocked the road. It was almost impossible to pass. There were too many victims on these roads and he did not want to become another one.
The mountain passes were cool, the views of the shimmering Mediterranean magnificent. Light breezes came through the trees from the sea. There were small shabby roadside places for refreshing hot tea and a rest and more bananas. It was heavenly. A haven from development. Late in the evening, they circled down into a wide valley with a vast expanse of plastic-covered greenhouses growing fruits and vegetables in the winters for cities to the north. They ruined the atmosphere of the once scenic town. Signs directed them to the beach area and hotels.
There were a few local young hot rodders outside on the main street, with screaming radios and loud mufflers in their down-scale cars. Peasants who now lived in town. He was reminded of small towns in America in the sixties with rednecks running around and raising hell. But these guys usually gave up quite early and went home. There were no girls around to pick up anyway.
His wife cranked up the evening news on the tube from which it was difficult to escape in hotels these days, anywhere in the world. Another day of chaos in a chaotic country, the perils of emerging markets in crony capitalism. Politicians roared in new speeches. They were the new lions. At least, that’s what they thought. A new scandal had emerged, quickly to be swept under the carpet. More money stolen in crony contracts. More miners killed in the latest of a series of tragedies, now that the mining industry had been privatized. A few unfortunate families wiped out in auto accidents. A couple of drownings. A smashed minibus turned over in a ditch. A businessman had killed his lover and was now at large. Some Syrian refugees had burned up their apartment. Gruesome stuff, but these heroic drivers thought they were going to live forever.
Half past ten, they hung it up for the day. Jed put down his journal from writing up his latest adventure and brushed his teeth. He drifted off quickly, tired from the long day. A dream came to him in the night. He was in an Indian village somewhere wandering and happy, talking to an old friend and then somewhere on the old farm in Missouri. A young Bill Clinton was there in a hot-rod Cadillac convertible, spinning rubber with his girl-friend. Wild-Ass Bill. He often had these wild dreams. Round and round the images came in a crazy confusion in his mind.
Chapter Two: Turuncu
Even in the summer, it could be cold in the nights along the coast. Under the covers, which included a blanket, Jed huddled in his thick top. Zeynep was still snoozing in the bed adjacent to his.
It was half past seven but he felt lazy. No need to bail out early, as the port town where they were headed was only around a hundred kilometers away. They would drive it by noon, certainly. He would try the shower. Start the day right.
They had done well the day before. It was Friday and the boat did not go until Sunday evening, so there was plenty of time for some leisure. Mostly swimming.
The hotel served breakfast near the pool. Guests were scarce. Only a young couple came with their two children. There was too much food. People had a tendency to eat too much. There was food everywhere. Too much of it. Jed went light. He was only going to drive and did not have a great appetite.
They left around nine. The small road wound up the mountainside next to the sea. The road was even smaller and more dangerous than the day before, hardly enough room for two cars to pass on the narrow strip of metaled road. Meeting a big truck or tourist bus here would be treacherous as the road came right up to the edge of the cliff. From there, it was a long and rocky way down to the sea. There was no barrier to prevent a vehicle from slipping off the road. Even though Jed was used to mountain driving, some places gave him sweaty palms. He met a big bus coming down the narrow road, barely missing the car by inches. Other large trucks and buses almost ran them off the road. Something had to be done about this road. It was not built for modern traffic. Maybe OK for the nineteen fifties. On the other hand, a new road would bring in a hoard of tourists and spoil everything.
A little further on, the road leveled out but still wove back and forth in hairpin curves along the sea bluffs. If one plunged off the road, it was almost straight down to the sea several hundred meters. In the distance, some forty miles away, the island of their destination appeared bathed in the bright morning sun. A long range of mountains stretching for miles along the north side of Chaos. It appeared as a big island from this vantage point. It was somewhat exciting. He hoped that things would be better. There must have been some improvement in the fifteen years since he had set foot in the place. The sea was dazzling blue and beautiful. Where else would one find such heavenly scenery?
The new road was being built. Giant tunnels were being bored through the mountains and cemented. This government knows how to build roads, he thought. That, perhaps, was one of the few things that they knew how to do well along with throwing their political enemies in jail on trumped up charges and embezzling money, of course.
The road wound down to the sea. There were lovely beaches, completely vacant. They drove down to one and stretched their legs on the warm sand. The water was tempting. Jed wanted to jump in.
Back on the road, they stopped for a rest and tea. Peasants were making the local pastry, hot and spicy under a thatched hut alongside the roadside. Jed and Zeynep could not help having some, made immediately on the grill and filled with potatoes. Jed loved simple places like this. So much more natural and comfortable than fancy modern places. There might be a place for modernity but for the most part, it was ruining the world as far as he was concerned. Fuck modernization. Nothing could be more boring. It had been going on for too long. Zeynep did not need to hear it from him, as he had said it so many times before. He kept his thoughts to himself and munched his tasty bread and potato. Laced with the spicy peasant food and the several small cups of hot tea, they were back on the road.
Another twenty kilometers and they entered the small town of Turuncu. It was from here that the boats got underway for Chaos. There were two companies that operated them, both from the island. They had a monopoly on the business of taking all the supplies from England and some from the so-called motherland, Aslanistan. The pipeline from England to Chaos to keep the local British supplied.
They scouted around for hotels. They had planned on the Zeus, which turned out to be very bad with small cramped rooms. Another one on the beach was better. A hundred a night for a double at the Meltem. They would be here until heading for the boat late on Sunday evening. It was a nice little place with sea breezes blowing into the room. The constant rhythm of waves washing ashore was soothing. Some swimmers were enjoying the surf.
They would swim in the sea. The beach was beautiful. They went to the beach and joined the swimmers. They were local tourists, mostly young families.
Jed walked out into the pleasant water. It was so shallow that one could walk out a hundred meters before getting into deeper water. Zeynep swam out beautifully, like a fish, natural to the sea. The water was heavenly. The waves were picking up, swelling him higher as they passed. He swam out further. If only his job could be this pleasant but he doubted it. He wished that there was some young pussy on the beach but this was a family town.
The swimming was so beautiful that it was difficult to tear himself away and head back to the hotel. Anyway, there would be another whole day when they could enjoy the sea before embarking on the next phase of the adventure.
He came out of the sea and showered on the beach. He went with his wife up to the town. The town was rather squalid. Nothing here, he thought. Not very much change from the way he had remembered it from twenty years ago. But he could not locate the nice restaurant near the beach that he remembered.
In the town there were a couple of local restaurants. They settled on one of them and had the evening meal. He would make it simple, lentil soup and bread followed by a sweet. They went to the nearby store for drinking water.
They slept with the sound of the Mediterranean rolling up on the beach in wave after wave. It reminded him of the beach in Santa Monica. Just how had he ended up here, half a world away? Life was strange that way. He watched the couples stroll on the walkway along the beach. Some were local young couples, newly married. Were they here on a honeymoon? In this dead-beat town?
In the evening they sat in the park near where the boats came in and drank tea. There was at least one tea garden in every town.
After swimming, the next day they went to the ferry office and picked up their tickets for the trip across. They were able to get a sleeping cabin on the boat for a small fee. It would surely be worth it to get some sleep. However, the idea that the boat would get underway around midnight proved to be deceptive. There was no way to know that, however, and the sellers were not going to tell them. The pier they were to leave from was a kilometer down the beach from the town. They were told to come at ten o’clock. It had been a nice stay on the beach.
They bought some things to eat on the way. It would be a long night. He was hoping for a glorious morning.
Chapter Three: Underway
The sea was incredibly beautiful. Jed lay on the beautiful blue water letting the gently rising waves float him. He imagined that he was riding that beautiful young woman that used to sit in the front row of his international relations class. He still remembered her legs, her long lovely tanned legs, and her beautiful breasts that popped straight out right in front of him. Her inviting cherry lips. That cute little nose and strands of dark hair. He conjured up a vision of her pussy in his mind and closed his eyes. Those young beauties would not quit. They were not fake. They kept on burning a hole right through his heart lesson after lessen. Jesus! There was nothing that was going to keep that young spring beauty from getting a fucking A in his class. She was not dumb but maybe not smart enough for the A. Who gives a shit? He thought. With her tits and legs, that sure as hell would put her over the top. Sort of the business sort of evaluation, he considered. Like what it had said in that shit-eating management textbook. A 360 degree evaluation to be used for employees. Figured that way, she was way over the top. Those beauties would fill out anything lacking in other areas such as brains. Was there anyone so stupid as to trade her beautiful young tits for a higher IQ? Only an imbecile would.
Ted swam and rode. Rode and swam. Zeynep swam out farther than Ted but decided to go in earlier. Jed couldn’t pull himself away from the beautiful sea. The water was positively orgasmic, or at least the tits and pussy of that young beauty that had engraved itself inside his lusty mind were. Nothing like being a dirty old man. He wondered if there was any other kind, except the senile that had positively lost all their senses. He was not quite that far over the hill yet.
There were few nice looking women who came swimming here. Mostly peasant stock. The others were all in hot spots, bigger towns, where the discotheques were.
They checked out of the hotel around eight in the evening and headed down to the distant port where they had seen the ferries arriving from Chaos. A large ferry was there waiting to be loaded. Big semi-trucks had started to arrive, mostly cargo from England and Ireland. Chaos was inundated with retirees from the United Kingdom. Ex-patriots out to pasture. Their country had historically been the first bona fide disaster of the capitalist era. On the cutting edge. Now it had reached the point where it was physically impossible to live there, except for the wealthy and those young enough to grub for a living. The retirees had to flee from the benefits of civilization. Siphilization, more accurately.
At the gate, a few people were arriving. The guard let Jed walk through the gate but Zeynep had to take the car to a different entry and pay a port tax for the car. Jed drifted over to the little canteen where people were gathered outside drinking tea and eating snacks. No institution could be without tea and snacks in Aslanistan. In twenty minutes he saw their car enter the staging area on the other side of the high wire fence. Zeynep left the car and exited through the customs check building.
They had no idea how long they would have to wait. And it was getting cold in the late evening. They settled down to boredom and a series of small cups of tea.
About eleven Jed and Zeynep saw some activity starting up. People were walking and lining up to pay the port tax for individual passengers. Jed joined the tremendous line which seemed to crawl by inches. It took an hour to get up to the booth and pay the tax. From there they crossed to the line waiting to enter customs and have their passports checked.
Jed had to remove his belt to go through the metal detectors. His pants kept falling off going through the line. By that time it was past midnight. Through the bottleneck, Zeynep found the window where one had to pay the tax for taking the car outside the country. In half an hour, a young customs official came and checked their household goods that they were taking. Other people going through the same process settled back in their cars to wait. A long stream of large cargo trucks were lined up waiting to be loaded onto the ferry.
Jed couldn’t quite figure out how it worked and why it was so slow. Then he saw that the big trucks had to be driven onto a platform inside the ship and elevated to an upper deck. This would take hours at this rate.
In fact, practically the entire night was taken up by the loading of the cargo trucks. That was the way Chaos got almost all of its supplies. This went on till almost four in the morning.
Finally, the signal was given that the cars could start entering the ship. There was a mad scramble as drivers started their engines and rushed forward to secure a place in the line. Gradually the cars edged through and were loaded. One had to drive down a steep inclined ramp very slowly and then up the steep ramp into the ferry. Then several cars at a time were elevated up to the next deck and packed tightly together for the trip across the fifty miles of sea.
There was barely time to grab a few things for the night before another car was packed next to Jed and Zeynep’s small car. It was a tight squeeze for Jed and his wife walking between a large semi-trailer truck and the bulkhead of the ferry to reach the long ladder leading up to the cabins and lounge deck. Jed struggled to tug their belongings up the long ladder, both hands full. He dared not leave his valuables inside the car.
At the top of the ladder, he was exhausted and had to rest. It had been a long time since his Navy days when he was lugging fire-fighting equipment up and down steep ladders in fire drills. Not possible any more. They did not have a clue where the cabin was which they had reserved. Zeynep went and found the key from an attendant and they located the small space. It was air conditioned to the point of being frigid. There were just two bunk beds next to the bulkhead and room to stand between the racks and the opposite bulkhead. At the back was a toilet.
As the air conditioning was running at top notch, Zeynep had to call a technician to turn the system down. This took up more time. The boat would be getting underway in another half hour, a little past four in the morning. The information that it got underway at eleven in the evening was completely fictitious. Par for the course, Jed thought. This outfit is run by a company on the island. They could care less about the comfort of the passengers. Since no other ships would dock at the ports on the island, the companies had a monopoly.
They settled in to try to get a little sleep. They were terribly tired after being up almost the whole night. Jed was shook after the struggle with the luggage on the ladder. He didn’t feel like even looking around the ship. As soon as his wife was settled, he crawled up the small ladder to the top bunk. There was no time even to write up his journal. He gave it up and turned in. He must get a little sleep.
When he woke up, he came down from the bunk to see what was going on. He went outside the cabin. The bright sun was reflecting off the sea, a beautiful sight in the early morning. The shining blue sea was incredibly beautiful. The ship was still steaming toward the distant island at eight in the morning. He went to the forward deck to get some fresh air from the sea. He saw the distant range of jagged mountains gradually drawing closer. It was a nice way to start the day.
In a little bit, his wife got up. When Jed returned, they went outside the cabin to the lounge to have tea and a snack. The tea was fine but the cheese sandwich was impossible to eat. The bread was hard like card board with almost no cheese inside. They eventually secured a place to sit at one of the small tables. The tea rather perked them up and the sleep, while short, had done the trick. It would suffice.
They went out onto the deck to take the fresh air. One could see the range of mountains in the distance looming higher as they steamed. Two hours later, it was clear they were now fast approaching the island, heading toward the port city of Midas. The ship docked around half past ten. The small town looked quaint. Development was mainly in the large tourist hotels which had come up on the beaches outside the city.
There was a rush of people who had come without cars to scramble off the boat. They bunched with their bags near the gangplank. Jed and Zeynep had to wait until they could reach their car. This meant that most of the big trucks must be taken off before their car would be freed up.
Jed had to lug the baggage down the ladder again. There was too much to handle so it took two trips.
Eventually, the car was freed up. They loaded their stuff and were directed to drive onto the platform. Jed barely made it into the car before the platform began to descend to the lower deck. Unloading was certainly quicker. They drove out down the gangplank. It was a relief to be free of the ship but now they faced more bureaucracy and there was little indication as to how to go about it.
Some cars were lining up for customs and driving out of the port. Others were parking to take care of insurance and paperwork. First, it became clear that the insurance on the car was useless on Chaos, so they had to buy new insurance. This was a stiff fee. It seemed to take forever to fill out the paperwork. The system was primitive, with the clerk working behind an open window in a small dirty shack. Not nearly as efficient as Bangladesh, Jed figured.
They went through passport control. Jed, feeling hopeful, bought a bottle of Jack Daniels from the duty free section. Customs control for the car was just signed off with no inspection. Banana republic stuff. Finally, there was some more bureaucracy about the car and something which had to be done in a few more months, which Jed did not understand. It would all come out later.
Finally, they were free. They drove across the badly broken and rough cement roadbed and through the gates of the port. Whether they had entered paradise or the gates of hell would soon become clear. Right now, they were starting to enjoy being in a new place. He figured that the worst was over. They had paid the cost. They were headed straight for Chaos.
Chapter Four: Midas Celestial University
The sour look on Tolga Tomruk’s face in the Human Resources Office stuck in his mind. Coming from Aslanistan, one was used to people being courteous. Tolga Bey, on the other hand, projected a perpetual frown and seemed suspicious of Jed. He treated him as if he was trying to pull something off. It was not the most pleasant greeting in arriving at his new place of employment.
They had a week before the job was to begin officially. They had looked forward to having a nice comfortable place. Pictures had been sent in an email of the accommodations. Jed thought he might be able to get some writing done along with the teaching. That should not be very strenuous. It was going to be a new way of life.
Leaving the port of Midas, Zeynep drove east along the coast road. Jed remembered it from years before but most of the ancient olive trees had now been replaced by food markets and small shopping centers. Those few that remained were dust laden and neglected. Pitiful, in their death throes. It looked rather sad, the tacky small shopping areas replacing beautiful ancient olive orchards.
It took some adjustment to get used to driving on the left, the opposite side of the road. There was a trick to negotiating the traffic circles. Jed would learn it in a couple of days.
They entered an area of Midas which was mostly inhabited by British immigrants. Most were retirees. They stopped at a modern supermarket. This type of store had not existed twenty years before, Jed remembered. The first thing they noticed was that so many of the goods were British. There were a lot of European products too. Jed checked the wines and booze. There was a much wider selection than he was used to in Aslanistan and prices were much cheaper. Dirt cheap. Fuck. The high taxes on booze in Aslanistan was keeping the booze cheap and plentiful in Chaos. The Jack Daniels was essentially the same price as in the duty free port. So there was no bargain there. There was no duty anywhere, presumably. Why collect taxes on booze when the mother country is paying the bills anyway?
The baked chicken and rice they had for lunch in the side section of the shop was a little dry but not bad. They did some shopping. The prices for food was about double what they were used to. Only the wine and booze was cheap. They came outside in the blazing hot sun. The small car had become an oven inside. Jed would drive to the university. It had to be easy to find, he figured. He had looked it up on Google Earth and so knew its approximate location.
Sure enough, it was just off the main road to the west and a large sign, Midas Celestial University, above the road marked the turn. They drove up the hill toward the mountains where rocky crags pushed out. Another large sign was emblazoned with large letters above the road. “Midas Celestial University – A University on Five Continents.” The gate attendant lifted the barrier and waved them through. The place had an abandoned look. The students would not begin to arrive for another three weeks. Jed found the human resources office in a large administration building topped with flags of various high-powered countries of the world, Europe, America, and England. What they had to do with Midas Celestial University was a mystery. It was certain that none of these countries officially recognized the government of this country. So what were their flags doing there?
Jed entered the office and gave his name. The director, Tolga Tomruk, was at his desk in a white shirt and tie. The air conditioner was laboring in the heat. He asked him to take a seat with a frown on his pudgy face. He shuffled some papers into a folder and added them to other files, pretending to be busy. This kept Jed waiting for five minutes while he fiddled with the papers.
He observed the view. Outside the big glass windows, the vast blue of the Mediterranean met the horizon. It seemed a heavenly place. He just had to get settled into their new house. It was clear right away that it was not a friendly office. The director was young, tough looking and rude.
Tolga Bey fixed his gaze upon Jed and scowled.
“You told me you were coming on Friday,” he said, as if he was disappointed to see him so soon. “I was going to send someone to the port to pick you up,” he lied.
“Oh, I sent you an email saying we had changed our plans,” Jed said. “And you replied that it was OK and that our house would be ready today.”
The director scowled again and looked through some papers. “I hope you brought your documents,” Tolga said. “We can’t let you move in without those. And there are some papers that must be signed.”
“Sure, I brought everything,” Jed said truthfully. He was used to being asked for documents, even obscure ones, especially obscure ones. This time he had not taken any chances. He also had a good supply of pictures. He had learned over the years never to go anywhere without pictures. One could never have too many pictures in this part of the world. One could be asked for pictures anywhere, anytime. It was surely a great boon to the picture studio and glue industries to keep sticking all those pictures on documents. It was standard procedure. Would they come up with something that he did not have?
“Well, bring them on Monday, then,” Tolga Bey ordered. “Garip Bey is on his way. He will show you to the house. Just wait ten minutes.”
Jed wondered how long that would be.
Jed waited twenty minutes. The gopher, Garip Bey appeared. A small quick moving friendly guy, unlike Tolga, who responded to each command from above like a frightened rabbit or perhaps robot. He would drive to the location and they should follow his car. It was just down the hill from the campus. The housing complex was set up like a holiday village. Apparently it had been built for that purpose but now the university was renting it for some members of the staff. There was a large swimming pool in front with the buildings constructed around it. The apartment itself was a single big room with a loft above for sleeping and a stairway leading up to it. Fine for the time being. The water looked inviting. It had no resemblance, however, to the house which they had been promised by the university.
Garip Bey checked off the items in the apartment on the check list and had Jed sign the contract.
“I will bring your copy in two days,” he lied. “Here is the command for the air conditioner.” When Zeynep tried to cool down the place, there was no response from the machine. It was dead.
The apartment was not exactly free as some money would be deducted every month from his paycheck. In addition, they had to pay for the utilities. The rate for electricity on the island had increased inordinately. But at least it was working, unlike in the past when there were daily and nightly power cuts.
At first the setup looked good but then the shortcomings started to become obvious when they started to settle in. It was not exactly a mansion. There were some kitchen cabinets but other than that, not a single shelf in the whole house. There was only one small bureau with drawers and a larger one where a few clothes could be hanged. There was no desk, just a table near the small kitchen in one corner.
Ted and Zeynep spent the rest of the week getting set up. It was a good thing that we came a week early, Jed reflected. Otherwise it would not have been possible to get moved in before the job started.
The third morning was taken up by going to the post office for the packages they had shipped. There were too many packets to put in the car and the taxis refused to take them. Any physical exertion was out of the question for the taxi mafia operators. At the old taxi and minibus stand, they found a guy with a van who would do it. He was from Aslanistan, so willing to work. Still Jed ended up carrying the packages some distance to get them into the apartment.
What to do about shelves was the problem. Clearly, they had brought too much. Jed would use his old method. He would have to buy a drill and put up his own shelves. There was nothing else to do to make the place livable.
By the first weekend, the apartment was starting to be manageable. The shelves were getting done. Jed had exhausted himself in the heat to drill holes in the wall and start putting them up.
The second day, they met Klaus and Francine, a couple from Australia. They went to their place for tea. It was good to make some friends. Francine asked Zeynep to go with her for shopping.
They were having similar problems. Newly arrived, they did not have a car. Public transportation was lacking to get to the store and back, except for the expensive Mercedes taxis. Buying a car was a problem as it was difficult to get their money transferred when it was in Australian dollars. It had to be converted to Euros or US dollars.
There were other problems.
“We can’t get anything to work in this place,” Francine said. “We had the guy come and set up our internet connection but now it isn’t working. We have tried everything and asked him to come back and fix it. Twice he has said he would come but he doesn’t come.”
“The same old story,” Jed said. “It was the same when I was here twenty years ago but I was in another town, Euphoria, on the east side. Eastern Chaotic University. You just have to be patient and not expect too much.”
“Well, we came all the way from Australia,” Francine said. “Klaus asked them to provide me with a ticket, since I am his wife. But they refused. They only pay for the faculty member, not the family.”
“That is worse than it used to be. Maybe because at this university they are running on the business model,” Jed said. “You can come with us to the market. We brought our car.”
It turned out that the Australian couple had been given Jed’s apartment initially but refused it after a few days. Their place was small and cramped but had rooms with walls.
The problems began to pile up. The back terrace was completely compacted with pigeon shit. Jed and Zeynep asked to have it cleaned. When nothing happened, they did it themselves, once they had bought the cleaning equipment. It looked inviting as a place to sit once they had excavated through the layers of built-up bird shit. But the next day they were surprised that it had filled up again with the same shit overnight. Somehow the birds had chosen the roof above their door as their nesting place. One the place was washed down, they wasted no time filling it up with shit again. There was no way to keep the place clean. The other apartments did not seem to have the same problem. Perhaps they were offered the place as it was the worst possible place. The shittiest. Shit flows downhill.
Then there was the problem of mosquitoes. They had brought screens which one could stick to the windows. Jed spent a couple of hours installing them. They could get some fresh air now without the menace of mosquitoes. The other plague, which they had not anticipated was a different species of small insects which were almost too small to be seen but bit ones arms and legs to cause inordinate itching. They were small enough to come right through the screens and seemed to do the most damage during the night when one was asleep.
With both feet and ankles red and inflamed with this plague, Jed went to the health clinic next to the campus. The nurse put some soothing salve on them. Jed was surprised that she did not provide a small tube of the stuff for him. He wrote down the name and bought some at the local pharmacy. His wife had the same problem.
The invisible little sons of bitches were eating them alive. It was not exactly the paradise they had hoped for. Just another shitty day in paradise, Jed thought.
Chapter Five: First Day
Jed bailed out of bed and took a shower. It took a long time for the water from the sun heater to warm up. As usual, the faucet was installed backwards. It took a while to find out which way to turn the tap for hot water. He showered. Normally, he would have thought of some lovely older cunt and got hard but not today. Was he getting old? No shit. But then, perhaps there was yet hope. It had taken a full year to claw his way back to being a professor after that hit in Deniz City. He would have a job. Fuck Odun, he thought. That fat piggy asshole. Jed knew how to do the work, hardly work. He would soon be performing in front of those lovely little beauties. Dispensing wisdom and making jokes that most of them would not get. That was just as well. He couldn’t be accused of sexual harassment when they didn’t get the jokes. Some of them would just faithfully write it down in their notebooks, regardless of how stupid.
Breakfast was shredded wheat, the first time he had tasted it in years. He would try it again. All the British products were in the stores here just like in America. Even old fashioned oat meal, just like that in America.
His wife drove him up the hill to the campus. There was a gate at the entry to Midas Celestial University. Out of the car with his bags, he recognized one of his old students from twenty years ago, now an assistant professor in the department. He arrived in a late-model Mercedes sports job. Vedat is doing OK, he thought. He has become a true Chaosarian with that big new Mercedes.
He trucked up past the small contoured pool and hedges and up a couple of flights of cement steps to the wide expansive Rector’s building. The front of the building was emblazoned with various symbols, like medieval coats of arms. There were the flags of foreign countries, as if they had all endorsed this sordid business enterprise. All lined up to lure in the parents and the students and begin the process of emptying their wallets. Whether the student’s brains would be filled was another matter altogether. If they were, it would not be with knowledge, he reflected.
He remembered that it was on the second floor. He waited outside on the hard chair for the human resources honcho, Tolga Bey, to deal with a sexy young student. It won’t be soon, with her in there, he thought. He is getting a good look at her and buttering her up.
Eventually, he saw her flitting out, with perfect tanned Barbie-doll legs. What a delicious sweet little piece of ass. He shifted his thoughts and went inside. He sat in one of the chairs opposite the director. Tolga eyed him suspiciously and scowled, as if asking what he was trying to pull off.
“What documents do you have for me?” he asked.
“Tell me what you want,” Jed said.
He pulled out his official university transcripts. One set had not even been opened. He was hoping that this would be the last time in his career that he would actually need them. Copies of the equivalencies of his degrees certified by the Higher Education Council (CRAP) bureaucracy in Aslanistan. His original diplomas. He handed them all over.
“Do you have anything that says you have been appointed professor?” the director asked. Jed poured through the documents and came up with nothing. Had he left it behind? If so, how could he get it? How could he have left that behind? Surely, it was in the apartment.
“OK, I’ll bring it tomorrow,” he said, not lying.
Tolga Bey eyed him again with his suspicious, almost hostile, look.
He was informed that the faculty secretary would meet him outside and take him to his department.
Presently, he met a middle-aged Chaosarian woman, not attractive, beginning to run to fat. Fatima Hanim. A familiar Aslanistan name. She was with a young man from the department, heavy-set. He entered the faculty premises and found himself inside the office of the Dean, Satilmis Kasapoglu.
He immediately recognized that shiny bald head he had seen in the picture on the internet. He said “hello” and shook hands. There were a couple of other people in the office. Vedat, who had been his former student, was there too. It was a friendly meeting. Everything seemed fine but he was approaching the moment of truth.
“Well, maybe we can find you an office,” the Dean said, in a feminine voice. “Actually, we are not prepared.” That was obvious, Jed thought.
“Let me see if I can find you a place.” He followed Satilmis Bey downstairs. He saw his narrow little ass prancing in front of him, his ugly bald head and thin neck. When he met someone, that phony smile came on his face. He reminded him of a Bible seller or those guys who used to come around and try to sell home maker’s magazines to his mother. The hallway was narrow and dark between offices with gray metal doors. Just like in the Navy, Jed thought. Why do institutions have to be so gloomy like this?
He was led to an office near the opposite end of the hallway. Sure enough, he saw two desks facing each other. Fuck! No private office here, even for a full professor. He had hoped for an office all to himself but it was not to be. That was the first let-down.
Then he noticed that there was no computer on the desk which would be his.
“We don’t provide computers anymore,” the dean said quickly. “We used to, but the policy has been changed.” You do not get one unless you are a department head.
Things had begun to look bleak, as the string of negations began that were likely to continue, as far as he could see. It was a pattern he had seen before but now it was one negation piled upon another. Nevertheless, he would work around it, he thought.
He sat down to a blank desk. Presently, his office-mate, Melhi, a young Chaosarian of thirty or so, arrived. He did not seem terribly friendly.
He left the office and went upstairs, remembering that he had to ask some questions about his classes. He saw the dean, Satilmis, at his computer. Well, those of some importance had computers, he reflected. Some late-comers like him were treated like shit.
It was the same with Klaus, his Australian friend. He had come all the way from Australia to teach art which, of course, involved images. They had told him, point-blank that they could not provide him with a computer. This had hit him like a heavy blow. The only computer he had at home belonged to his wife.
Jed talked to Satilmis Bey. He had decided that rather than sit and stare at the walls in the afternoon, he would go to his apartment and work on a syllabus or two. “I think I should just go and work on my courses,” he said. “I can’t do anything here, since I did not bring my computer.”
That was when it hit him hard.
“Oh, hasn’t anyone told you about the nine to five rule?” the dean asked. “The management has brought in someone new. Vahap Bey, the new CEO, has decided that we have to be in our offices from nine to five every day.”
Jed’s heart sank. Five days a week? Nine to Five? He had been in shitty situations in universities before but this started to take the cake. It was only the first day and he felt like resigning. A university has to have real talent to create morale like that, he thought. The honeymoon might have lasted longer than half a day. Fuck!
Well, it’s just another goddam shitty job, he thought. I don’t know if I can put up with it. But I’ll give it the old college try. I’m a little too old for this shit. It takes a young person to put up with nine to five. Such a thing is unheard of in a respectable university. It is not the way to encourage productivity but to create dead-head bureaucrats. Why impose it upon a person who is using his time productively outside the office?
He hardly gave a shit anymore. It was a sign of the times. With the coming up of all these private universities, operating on the business model, one might just as well get used to putting up with absurdities. Obviously my publications count for nothing, he thought. They just want a dead-beat time-punch system. Why don’t they require some actual accomplishment, like books or articles? No, then they would have to hire competent staff, and competent staff would not tolerate such regressive working conditions. And they would have to provide money to go to conferences.
He would either quit or be chained to the desk with no escape. There is more than one way to incarcerate a person, Jed thought. And surely this is one of the worst. He headed down the hill to his place on foot with a sinking heart.
He had been fucked again.
Chapter Six: The Dean
Jed talked to some of the young guys in his faculty at Midas Celestial University. He found that they were very unhappy with their working conditions. They told him that they were required to teach up to seven classes. The normal load would be three or four. Even with four, it would be difficult for a young professor to find time to do any research for publishing. “And we never get any money to go to a conference,” they told him.
They warned Jed about the housing.
“That place where they have put you, well, you will not be able to live there in the winter time,” they said.
“It gets cold as hell and the wind blows right through it and there is no way to heat the place. You are going to freeze your ass in there. I was there for three months with my wife and then we had to move. You better ask them for one of the apartments in the Northern Residence,” one young faculty member told him.
Jed began to realize that this was the truth. He discussed it with Zeynep. The next morning, they headed over to the Human Resources Office to ask Tolga Bey about getting into a different apartment. One like the university had promised to give them. Jed dreaded the thought of moving all the things again but realized it was going to be necessary. The work he did on making the shelves was rather wasted effort.
Jed and Zeynep walked into Tolga Tomruk’s office. He greeted them without looking up. There was a frown on his face. When anyone came, he expected another request and his main job, it seemed, was turning down requests. He had become quite accomplished in this enterprise.
They told Tolga Bey the situation, which he had undoubtedly heard from many previous residents who had been stuck in the apartment which was constantly bombarded with bird shit from the ravenous pigeons which inhabited the roof. Tomruk listened in boredom. It was obvious that he knew beforehand exactly what he was going to say.
“There is nothing available in the Northern Residence right now,” he lied. “Everything is full.” He did not hold out any hope of getting into one of the apartments any time soon.
Zeynep suggested that they might have to rent an apartment on the outside in that case. She asked if the university could pay the cost for an apartment.
Tolga Bey informed them that the university would pay only 150 British Pounds. This would be approximately a quarter of the cost of the rent. Nevertheless, they decided that they would try to find a place. Going through an agent would cost them another month’s rent. Jed saw himself going broke even before the job had started with these expenses mounting up. He was digging himself into a hole.
Jed attempted to get some work done in his office after Zeynep left. But now students had started to show up for registration. This involved a lot of talking to choose the courses. The students wanted to avoid the harder courses, although they were required to take them.
He did not have to register students but the constant stream of students took over the office. His office mate, a young assistant professor, Melih Bulut, who was head of the department, had to go through every student’s program and check which courses he or she should take. Students lolled in front of his desk. Swollen breasts of the young coeds threatened to spill out right in front of his eyes as they twisted their tanned legs. The students from Africa were often exceptionally well stacked with enormous asses and burgeoning breasts. There was no way to work with this going on. They twisted their young fecund bodies in front of him as he tried to write up his syllabus. Ted could neither concentrate to read or write with all that young pussy flashing their ballooning breasts in his face. He was simply tethered to the desk, like a useless and brainless piece of meat. His brain was starting to go blank. He had to get the fuck out of here but how? He felt like he was going to explode. From time to time, he escaped to the tea and snack place where students were starting to diddle away their time and text message all their friends.
In the afternoon an email came from his publisher in the biggest city of Aslanistan. The publisher informed him that the new edition of his text book was to be published next week and they needed him to go through and proofread the text. He would also need to do the index. Next week was a little optimistic but the idea was that they wanted to get it out as soon as possible.
Jed thought it might be an opportunity. He was pleased that his new edition would be coming out some nine months since he had done the revision. And he would inform the publisher to put the name of the new university on the book. Surely, this would be a nice feather in the cap for the university. They would surely appreciate it. How many textbooks had the faculty written? He should be given ample opportunity to finish preparing the book for quick publication. Editing and a new index were required in short order.
Somewhat excited at the news, Jed jumped upstairs to the Dean’s office. Satilmis Bey was mulling over something on the internet. He didn’t appear to be terribly busy. Mainly, he just seemed to be wimpy. Limp and wimpy, Jed thought. His voice was weak. Satilmis looked quite pale and lethargic. He lacked hair. Personality too. When he laughed or smiled it was rather in a shit-eating fashion, as far as Jed could tell. This guy is phony as hell, Jed concluded. But surely he would have some sense, even if cowardly. He seemed decent enough on the surface.
The door was open and Jed walked in. Jed greeted Satilmis Bey. The dean gave him a timid and cautious look. Why had he come and what would he ask for now?
“I need to talk to you,” Jed said. “I just got an email from my publisher and the new edition of my textbook is going to be published next week.”
“Oh, congratulations,” the dean said in a weak voice. A shit eating smile had appeared on his face. “What textbook is this?”
“Oh, it’s my old intro textbook for political science,” Jed said. “The first edition was published almost twenty years ago. I revised it last year and now the new edition will come out.”
“Great. I am glad to hear it,” the dean lied. Like most academics he was jealous when he heard that another professor had a new publication. “I should be the one who had written it,” he was thinking, “with all my profound knowledge.”
“The only thing is,” Jed continued, “is that I have to go through the whole thing and edit it before it is published and prepare the new index. It is going to be awfully difficult to do this down in my office with registration going on and I need to finish it by the end of the week. It would greatly help if I could just do it at home where I can work better.”
“Well, everyone has to be in their offices from nine to five,” wimpy began. “That is the rule. This didn’t used to be the case. But last year the rule was changed when Vahap Bey was appointed CEO. I cannot give you permission to be out of the office between nine and five. We might not like it but we have to put up with the rules.”
The answer was a flat no. Jed was floored.
“But I am going to put the university’s name on the textbook,” Jed urged. “Surely, it would not be something that goes against the interest of Midas Celestial University. They will get the university name on a textbook used by lots of students. And it is only for a couple of days before classes even begin.”
“Well, I might agree with you,” his weak voice lied. “But there are some people over in the administration who do not see it that way. They have designed a business model. Now we are following this business model. I was just at a meeting this morning. I was told by the CEO that I had to be careful. Actually I was warned that I was not driving the staff hard enough.”
“But that is ridiculous,” Jed replied. “If someone is not doing their job then let them know what they need to do. Crack the whip. But if someone is working hard and publishing, then that is what competent hard-working academics do. Why shouldn’t they have some freedom to do it on their own?”
“It used to be that way but people stayed away from their offices too much,” the Dean said. “So now they are required to be here the whole day. I cannot do anything about that.”
“Are they required to produce any publications? Jed asked? “Any evidence of academic accomplishment?”
“No,” the dean grinned. “I know it is not the way it should be in universities like in the US and Canada. But the administration has a different philosophy here. They have shifted to the business model. I tried once to make them understand my view. I even thought of resigning myself the first year I was here, being used to the US and Canadian systems. But I realized I couldn’t do anything about it. If I wanted to work here I had to put up with it. My goal when I came here was to work in Chaos and this was the only way I could do it. We just have to hope that maybe we can make some change in future.”
“But if everyone refused to work under such absurd conditions, then they could not get away with screwing intelligent people down with this business model. It is like imprisoning people in their offices and slowly killing any creative urge or productivity. Something should be done about it.”
“Well, you are welcome to try to change it,” the Dean said. “I have tried and they do not accept anything I say. They have their bottom line.”
Jed figured that was in dollars and Euros.
“Well, this is just unacceptable. Something has to be done about it,” the rebel in Jed said. “I don’t know how but academics should not put up with it.”
“They know that they have no choice,” the dean said. “If they do not do it, they can easily be replaced. Most of them are Chaosarians. If they do not work here, they have few other choices. They are not going to risk losing their job in Chaos. And they do not want to go somewhere else. They love chaos. Last year they sacked a lot of people from the university who were not happy and were starting to complain and demand things.”
Probably true, Jed thought. They have had all the life and spunk crushed out of them by all the years of living under an essentially fascist system. They have been reduced to a collective herd of supine wimps. And, as far as Jed could tell, the dean was one of them.
“Well, as for the editing,” Jed was getting a little angry now, “I will do it. I will do it in spite of them. I will do it there in that (he wanted to say fucking office, but held it back) … that office, not for the university but for me and the students who will benefit from the book. I will do it, not with any help from Midas Celestial University but in spite of this university and their business model.”
And to hell with their fucking business model, he wanted to say but he held his tongue. He had already said enough to get himself branded as a radical. And likely enough to get him sacked from the job, he suspected. At least he had made it unlikely that they would extend his contract.
“Good luck,” the Dean said. He gave Jed a suspicious look, like Jed had just incriminated himself as a traitor. He was probably thinking, “I would not want to be in your shoes.”
“I am sorry it is that way,” Satilmis lied, “but there is nothing that can be done about it at this point.” Satilmis Bay was clearly anxious to distance himself from Jed’s rebellious attitude. He didn’t want to be suspected of having any sympathy with bucking the rules of the business model that Vahap Bey was putting in place. And he actually liked the idea of having his young staff chained to their desks. There were only one or two that he considered had the ability to really produce an article to publish in a good journal. The most accomplished was himself, in his view. He had studied how a big chain store in America marketed its products.
The dean stared out the large window toward the vast expanse of blue sea. A blank stare returned to his face as if he was a patient in a psycho-ward. It was as if somebody had already performed a full-scale lobotomy on him. Perhaps they had. It was like the poor son of a bitch’s brains had been blown right out in his two short years here.
Jed saw that the dean had sold himself, lock, stock and barrel to Midas Celestial University. Jed thanked him and walked out of his office.
Jed figured that the Dean was probably angling to join the management section and pull down some real money. He was, after all, a business jock, and there was the business model over there just ready to welcome him with open arms if he could do their bidding. If he measured up. He didn’t seem all that enamored with academic work and teaching. The measly academic salaries barely paid the bills in Chaos. He would not have any ethical qualms about wielding the whip from the other side of the management table.
There was one thing that the business model neither had any use for nor would put up with, Jed reflected. The management could not tolerate anyone daring to use their brains.
Even though the hands of the clock had not yet reached the hour of five that liberated the imprisoned yearning souls in the drab cubicles called offices, Jed packed up his computer and fled from the University. Fuck it, he thought. Fuck their fucking business model. What the fucking sort of fucking so-called unifuckingversity is this anyway? Celestial, my ass! More like Folsom fucking prison?
Chapter Seven: The Bread and Butter Party
Jed remembered how he had found out about Dean Odun a few years before at Deniz University in Deniz City.
Taking a break from constructing his power point lessons in his previous position, Jed had decided to do a background check to see if he could find out a little more about his new dean. He was curious whether he was, in fact, a real academic, or what sort of guy this Professor Abdurrezzak Odun really was. He popped his name into the Google search engine. No books or articles in journals came up but rather a series of items having to do with politics, namely, the now defunct old Bread and Butter Party which the Aslanistan military had closed for violating the secular provisions of the Aslanistan Constitution at the end of the 1990s. Undemocratic action, to be sure, but it was true that the party most surely had a hidden religious agenda. It turned out that Professor Odun had indeed been a member of that party. Not only a member, as it turned out. He had actually been a state minister in that government, which was essentually dismissed by the military in a sort of bloodless coup. A minister in the religious government.
Holy Shit! Jed thought. This son of a bitch is a bona fide religious whacko. He began to smell a rat. Was he here to push that same agenda in this university? Jed searched for his publications record. One should have some publications. Indeed was required, according to the rules, to have a considerable record of publications to become a professor under the provisions of the Higher Education Council (CRAP). But the only thing he could come up with was a short article, rather a sort of note or commentary on another article, having to do with the issue of interest free Islamic banking. The other things were not real academic publications. The sort of fluff that some academics often listed on their resumes to fill up the space for publications, when they didn’t have anything much to list. Things like their class notes. Nothing very academic but clearly along the religious line. Shit. He had no idea that Odun had such a background. How had he become the dean of that faculty? Must be a political job. He was out every day or two appearing on some TV program, religious stations, no doubt. He was starting to see a pattern. In his mind he saw his chubby jowls bouncing and those stubby fingers poking into the air as he dispensed his nuggets of wisdom to sinful souls.
And Jed had given him a copy of his recent book. Not his textbook but his new book on the Middle East. Shit. That might have been a mistake. He would maybe like some aspects of it, probably. He would like to see the criticism of the Great Satan, George W. Bush and America, for sure. America bashing. But he certainly would not like the secular and rather left slant of the book. And there was no way of getting around the fact that Jed, Professor Singer, was an American. A hard core believer and communalist of Odun’s ilk would not only hold his religion against him, assuming that he was a Christian, but also his nationality. Anything west of the Danube was clearly Satanic with a capital S. It didn’t matter if one was not religious. Especially if one were not religious! At least like him! To a rank communalist if one came out of American society and had European ancestry, one was a de facto Christian, in the eyes of a communalist, even if they were a fucking communist.
It was a relevation. But what the hell, Jed thought. He would be fair. He would give Abdurrezzak Bey the benefit of the doubt until it was proven otherwise. He didn’t give a shit about his religion or politics as long as he was an honest and decent man. Until the present time, he had no reason to believe otherwise, other than his political track record, that is. His name, Odun, or “wood” however was not a particularly good omen.
But on the other hand, he would not pull any punches. Well, not many anyway. He wouldn’t punch at all, when it came to the Dean, just give him a wide berth, but on the other hand, he would teach his classes in a respectable but critical way. This meant that if he was going to talk about Taylorism and so-called scientific management, then he would talk about Marx and Harry Braverman as well. He would talk about Labor and Monopoly Capital. He would throw in some material from Studs Terkel and his great book, Working. Scientific management, after all, was nothing but fancy shit-eating words for exploiting the hell out of the working man and woman to make a profit under capitalism. Pumping out surplus value. So he went on with his power point slides, often chuckling at his irreverance, poking fun at the money grubbers and thinking how old Professor Odun would likely be outraged at his leftist and insightful views. It was fun as hell. If religious nationalists were fond of anything, it was making money. And they didn’t hesitate to use the exploitative methods of capitalism. There was a reason they liked the color green.
It was curious, Jed thought, how religious based politicians were so petty bourgeois, how they were so money-grubbing. How they craved the power that capitalists had. How they were so anxious to hate the rich capitalists for their wealth and power and gain wealth and money they same fucking way by screwing the working man and woman. How they hated the West but were jealous of their global power. Hell, they even rushed to America when they got the chance. Enjoyed the freedom while looking down on the decadance. Well it would be interesting. Too bad he couldn’t have been working under someone more progressive. A decent person with a humanist view of the world, rather than a “god-fearing man.” But life was full of twists and turns.
A couple of days later, his new friend, Cem arranged with the university for a car and driver and went with him to the City Police Station, down by the beautiful bay, to apply for the renewal of his work permit for the year. Jed appreciated the help and support, which he had never received from any other university. Even the required documents had been arranged and were ready for submission. Jed enjoyed Cem, an Aslanistan citizen who had lived in New York for some eighteen years and become an American Citizen. He said he was a naturalized citizen. Jed suggested that after living in New York, it might be more like an animalized citizen, rather than naturalized.
Before the first week had passed Jed began to see that not everything would be as relaxed and congenial as he had hoped. This, after all, was to be his sort of retirement job, or near retirement. If they would just stay the fuck away from him and give him the freedom to teach his classes the way he wanted to teach them, then he would have a hell of a lot of fun, along with the students and everything would go along fine. That was all he really wanted. But one never knew.
In this case, it was becoming clear that Dean Odun and the Rector, a dull and unimaginative electrical engineer, were at complete odds. He was likely the kind of guy who thought social science was fluff and anybody could just listen to the TV news or read the newspaper and teach it. There was no communication between the Dean and the Rector whatsoever. There was something going on there. The go between was the Rector’s wife, who was on the faculty. It went deeper. The Rector, apparently, owed his position to his wife, since she was related to the owner of the university. On the other hand, Odun had also been put there for a purpose, seemingly a religious mission, which remained somewhat unclear to Jed. Some believed that the university operated under the auspicies of an international religious organization, a moderate religious outfit whose leader was based in the US, but Jed had no proof of that.
The faculty was short of members and the Rector needed warm bodies to teach classes but he wanted them at the lowest, knock-down, rock bottom price. Jed was also working cheap for a full professor but his main objective had been to get away from the cold harsh climate of central Aslanistan. So he was not in a position to bargain for higher pay. The Rector was even willing to run the university marginally less than legally if it helped to balance the books. They needed Jed simply because they could not start up new departments without a full professor. He could be shifted around like a piece of furniture for the purpose.
It was under these circumstances that Danny’s CV landed on the Rector’s desk. Danny was an American from San Fransciso, who had an Aslanistan citizen wife and had studied in the country. Then he returned to the US to become a lawyer with a JD Degree. One of the assistant professors knew him from the capital city. His CV was handed to Dean Odun who was decidedly against hiring him. It seemed to be a gut reaction, perhaps because he was an American. Jed was not sure why. He said that there would be trouble with the Higher Education Council, since they would not recognize his JD degree. The question came up as to whether a JD was equivalent to a Ph.D. It was, in fact, a doctor of jurusprudence, so seemingly something equivalent to a Ph.D. But Jed had no idea as to its status with the Higher Education Council.
Odun called Jed into his office and laid down the law that it would be wrong to hire him and he told Jed that he ought to be a little tough with the Rector and refuse it. Jed thought that maybe Odun knew what he was talking about but saw no reason why he could not teach the elementary courses in the department. It was true that he had no publications. Jed would have preferred to hire a real academic. The Rector was more blunt. He said straight out that it would be cheap to hire him and that he could have him teach three courses for what it cost him to bring a professor from outside the city to teach only one of the courses. As for getting tough with the Rector, how could he do that? He had just started the job and didn’t want to get on his wrong side. And he didn’t have any politicians to back him up, like Abdurrezzak Bey.
When Jed did suggest, seriously, that perhaps it would be better to hire someone with more academic interests, if one wished to build a reputable academic department, someone who is “qualified and scholarly,” the Rector reacted at once. Scoffing at the idea, he blurted out: “Who is qualified and scholarly?”
It was clear at that point that he didn’t consider Jed or any of the other faculty as falling into that category. Jed considered that maybe he himself, was in fact qualified and perhaps somewhat scholarly as well. But that idea had hit the fan.
In the end, Odun put his foot down solidly, and Danny was sent packing to another university. Whether it was just that he had a strong antipathy to Americans was not clear but Jed wondered just what his real status was with the dean after this. He could see that it was not going to be completely smooth sailing. One time he had heard an academic describe a university department as a ship of fools. He felt like just another one of the fools. Where the rudder would take them, to the open sea or on the rocks, he didn’t have a clue. He was already at sea.
Chapter Eight: The Rector
For Jed, it had been a horrible week of disappointments at Midas Celestial University. But now they were settling in and would be here, at least for the year. They would put up with the situation. Francine came over to their place almost every day. Jed and Zeynep found that Klaus was also pissed at the situation and was thinking of leaving. A few new faculty members had already decided that it was an impossible place and left the country.
“Well, let’s go and meet the Rector,” Zeynep suggested to Jed. “It could be useful to know him.” Jed agreed.
The Rector, Professor Kamber Uslu, did not seem to be a very busy man, which seemed unusual for someone at the helm of a large university. When Zeynep called his office, an appointment was set up for the very next day.
Jed went ahead with his editing. But at the end of the day, his back began to hurt before human liberation arrived at five. In fact, he discovered that the office chair was half-way broken and could not be adjusted to a comfortable position. That, along with the constant flow of students into the small office, was difficult. But he was making progress. He would get through it by the end of the week if he kept at it. He would see the new edition of his book come out on time.
After lunch, he went with Zeynep over to the Rector’s office. They had to climb several flights of steps up to the top floor of the building. There was a divan just outside the expansive office in the administration building with all the flags of various nations in front.
“They think this place is the United Fucking Nations,” Jed remarked to Zeynep.
They asked the secretary, a young woman, about the appointment and were directed to wait.
Two sexy young Chaosarian girls in tight-fitting skirts and tanned legs were flitting around. Their high heels clicked on the stone floors as they pranced to and from the inner corridors. This might indicate that they were close to money or power, Jed thought. Or perhaps, it was just another facet of the business model.
Jed noticed a plastic plant in the corner of the hallway where they were waiting. It splayed out its rubbery red and green leaves. Some badly needed dusting. Another Chinese-made synthetic species pretended to grow at the other side of the hallway.
In fifteen minutes, they were ushered into the holy of holies, where the man they were to see was seated behind a large desk. Jed noticed right away that there was nothing impressive about him and no indication that he wielded any power to speak of. His gray suit was ill-fitting. He was quite elderly, clearly long since retired from a teaching position in Aslanistan. Almost completely bald, he presented a friendly grandfatherly face and spoke with a quiet voice. Clearly out to pasture, Jed concluded, but a necessary fixture to the establishment.
Zeynep began the conversation, as Professor Uslu greeted them warmly with a well-practiced smile. Jed took a seat across from his wife and sank down into the wide leather sofa. It was tempting to just nod off to sleep as he relaxed in the comfort. Zeynep was telling their story while the Rector congratulated them for having come for a season in Chaos.
Jed studied the large aging black and white pictures on the high wall behind his desk that were gathering dust. They looked as they had been hanging there for half a century or so but that could not be the case. One was the founder of the nation of Aslanistan. He had seen the same picture in dozens of offices in Aslanistan over the years. A staple political icon of every Aslanistan office. There was another portrait of the man known as the founder of the nation of Chaos, although whether it was really a nation was still in dispute. That all depended upon whether one wished to consider it a nation or not, as it was not about to have international political recognition. Another picture displayed the late president of the small nation, in the office for several decades.
At the edge of the large desk was a small model of the Space Shuttle, complete with miniature rockets, poised for launch into outer space. Next to it was a small artificial plant with gem stones on the leaves. At the center was a fake-gold pen set. Various books and papers, untouched, appeared at the corners of the large desk, presumably to give the impression of useful, even intellectual, activity.
Zeynep discovered that she knew the Rector’s wife and had worked with her when she worked for the state TV channel in Aslanistan. This immediately put them on friendly terms. The Rector asked what they would like to drink and called for the refreshments.
Jed said little, as Zeynep and the professor discussed interesting things about Chaos. The Rector too was from Aslanistan and found some of the things about Chaos remarkable. He pointed out that the cost of heating his house, which was provided by the university, was inordinate and no one knew when things might actually get worse. The electrical system had been in a state of collapse ever since Jed could remember. There were two sorts of consumers. Those who paid for the power and those who did not. The latter category was the most numerous, which was part of the problem. It was all a matter of politics.
The tea and coffees came. Although officially forbidden in public places, the Rector wanted to smoke. He asked permission and offered cigarettes. Zeynep was happy to join him and he lit hers. The friendly conversation went on ceremoniously.
It became clear to Jed that the poor man was bored and quite idle. Probably lonely too. He liked visitors. He was a figurehead, that’s all. A token, mere window dressing for the university. Another plastic plant, like those in the hallway. For that, they paid him a salary and gave him a place to live. Along with his retirement from Aslanistan, it was a decent living. What the fuck? He was just another has been out to pasture. It turned out that his academic field was also business.
As far as power and authority was concerned, it did not rest in his hands. He was just a pitiful gopher like the rest of the academic staff. To get something done, he had to ask those who actually held the reins of power and dispensed the money. In the business model, this happened to be the CEO.
Chapter Nine: Meredith
Jed thought back to his first year in graduate school, going for a master’s degree. He got lucky with one of his professors, being a somewhat older student.
Her tiny breasts had turned him on at once. He wondered if she would like to make love. He thought of having that cute derriere in his grip and making love to her. She was a cute woman, no doubt about that. Even though Professor Meredith Burk was more than twice his age, in her mid-fifties, he was attracted to her. Jed was twenty-five. Her reddish brown hair was done up on her head. She was rather petite but had some shapely flesh on her body. She had bright green eyes and those lovely small mounds of flesh.
He first met her at the party for the faculty and graduate students. Jed had returned to the university to do a graduate degree. She kept eying Jed. Finally, she came near him and introduced herself. They talked and found out something about each other. They had a couple of drinks. He found out that she was a professor who taught sociology. He told her that he would like to take her class. She told him which ones she would be teaching. She asked him to come see her if he had any questions. She told him that her husband was also a professor but was on sabbatical and doing research in India.
Jed signed up for her class. It was a graduate seminar. She was friendly but demanding. She obviously knew her stuff but would demand good well-researched papers from her students. Jed plowed into reading the books for the course and had fantasies about her as she taught the class. She asked the students penetrating questions that made them think. He thought of penetrating her.
After the first paper he wrote, she asked him to come to her office and discuss it. Jed wondered if he had screwed up on writing it.
When she sat down, he sat down opposite her desk. She looked through a stack of papers coming to his. Pulling it out, she started to discuss it.
“OK, your paper, Mr. Singer. You have made a good start and have a good argument. But it could be better. You will have a chance to develop your analytical skills as you go along. I have given you an A minus for this one. I made some comments. I think you can improve on the next one.”
She handed the paper back to Jed and gave him a smile. Her skirt had ridden up on her legs dangerously. He could see some tanned flesh inside her blouse.
“Thanks,” Jed said. “I am enjoying the class. I have learned a lot from the classes and the books on your reading list.”
“You are doing well,” she said. “Maybe you should think of writing a dissertation on workers’ struggles.”
“If I can survive graduate school for that long,” he said.
“I think you will do fine,” she said. “Let me know if you can use any help from me.”
Jed thought of something that he might be able to use as she crossed her beautiful fleshy legs in her dark hose.
“Thanks,” he said. “I know there is much that I can learn from you.”
The next week he came to her office on a Friday just as she was about to leave. As she locked her door, he said hello.
“I was coming to your office. I guess I am a little late for your office hours.”
He walked with her out of the building. She asked him where he was going and if he would like a ride somewhere.
“Oh, don’t worry about it. Come with me, Mr. Singer. I know a nice little place where we can have a drink if you have the time. You can ask me your question there. Sort of an off-campus consultation.”
She was wearing a nice-fitting red dress that showed a lot of her legs. Jed could have a lot of time for that. He noticed her hands. They looked a little aged but slim and nice. Her lips were well exercised in lecturing but could be sensuous, Jed thought. And her small breasts well hidden under a light dress. She wore a scarf tied around her neck which hanged down and another long necklace. Jed imagined how she would look in just that necklace and nothing else. When they started down the steps to the parking lot, she steadied herself on his arm. He felt her fingers squeezing his muscle. She joked and pressed close to him.
The October air had turned colder. Brown and red leaves had fallen from the big maple trees near the building. The late afternoon sun struck her attractive face as she laughed. There was her cute little cherry red toy waiting for him and it was hot. He was ready to pop inside.
They threw their packs in the back of the small sports car. He climbed in the front. When she got in to drive, her skirt rose up high on her legs. She was wearing hose. Jed did not have to strain to have a look, they sat so close in the tailored leather seats. He thought about what her leg would feel like.
Jesus, just a little more and I could see everything, Jed thought as she pulled her seat belt across and latched it.
She backed out and drove skillfully, punching ahead in the quick and responsive European sports job. It’s nice to make good money and drive such cars, Jed thought. She cruised down the street past the university and out to the boulevard, her little cherry humming. The sidewalks were rich with attractive young coeds and young students with backpacks. What a great atmosphere, Ted thought. And she had actually sort of picked him up. She easily made her way through the traffic.
She was taking him across town to a small pub that she liked. Once on the main road, she relaxed. He felt her hand touching his leg.
“I hope you don’t mind. I am a little tired” she said. “A long week. This car is so small, there is no place for one’s arm.”
“Oh no,” Jed said. He felt his balls tingle at her touch and the scent of her perfume filled the space. He saw her cheek, the wrinkles around her eyes, and the shape of her neck and thought how her skin would feel. Her hand was dangerously close to where he was starting to swell. He was tempted to touch her skin, even to slip his hand inside her dress. What would she think?
When the line of traffic slowed, she had to brake quickly. He lurched forward slightly and suddenly felt her fingers touching the warm hard bulge down his leg. Her fingers remained there momentarily before she lifted her hand. He was embarrassed by his arousal. She had surely been aware of it as her fingers had seemed to press tighter, as if pleased by her discovery.
“I think you need a woman, Jed, you are a nice young man.” She glanced down at the bulge in his jeans that had now extended further down his leg. Was she thinking that there was something that she could use?
Jed didn’t know what to say. Was she suggesting something?
“You are sweet,” she said, as she touched his leg again. This time he was definitely harder. She had certainly felt his arousal. Now her fingers touched him again. She pressed again, momentarily.
“Delightful,” she said. “I mean the weather. It is just gorgeous, like you.”
She glanced down at the bulge in his jeans again. She knew how to tease a man. She looked pleased as if she was looking forward to something good.
“We are almost coming,” she said.
Jed didn’t know about her but he was almost coming after that and was glad to see that they were arriving.
They pulled in behind the small inn where some other cars had parked. “You can leave your things here,” she said, getting her bag. They walked through more brown leaves under a big Maple tree.
He went in with her watching her mature derriere wiggle in her tight skirt. That did nothing to allay the problem bulge in his pants. They slipped into one of the old wooden booths. It was a cozy feeling. Generations of students had carved their initials over the wooden seats and thick wooden tables before it was re-varnished. It had a used feel.
Someone had carved a heart on the table. Inside the heart, they had carved the words “Fuck Judy T.”
“I love this old place,” Meredith said. “It reminds me of when I was a student and used to come here. The old Heidelberg.”
Jed wondered how many young guys had laid her in those days. She had surely been a beauty and was still sexy.
It seemed cozy with her and he could hardly believe that he was here with her. He looked across at her and noticed a few gray streaks in her hair. She had a thin scholar’s face but attractive. The wrinkles around her eyes were attractive, Jed thought, showing her maturity. She was an accomplished scholar. She was a serious woman. He watched her thin fingers that had just touched that hard bulge in his jeans. She removed the scarf from her neck.
Jed started to ask her a question about the class.
“Oh, well, you see, it’s like this.”
She answered his question briefly, then said.
“But we can discuss that more in my office. Come sometime next week. I’m tired of academics this week. Let’s keep it a little light. What would you like to drink, Mr. Singer?”
“You can call me Jed,” he said quickly.”
“OK, Jed,” she said. “You will love the food here. The same kind I used to have years ago when I was a student. It is the best in this town.”
Jed looked over the menu and decided on one of the draft beers. He was feeling hungry too, so decided to order one of the ham sandwich plates. It looked delicious in the picture.
The young waitress came. She was almost certainly a university student, Jed thought. She was fleshy and had a pudgy face, prominent red lips, and nice big peaches under her checked blouse that was part of the decor. They ordered. Meredith also went for a beer and sandwich.
They finished off the first hefty draft beer in a fat mug while waiting for the food to come. With beer, Jed always started to feel relaxed. It began to hit the spot in his stomach and sort of descend into his lower parts.
“I feel a little strange being here with an instructor,” Jed said after finishing half of his tasty beer. “But it is nice being with you.” He remembered how her fingers had felt on his swelling cock.
She gave him a friendly look. Her dress zipped down the front. She had somehow eased the opening down, so that when she turned, he could see inside. Jesus, it is true, Jed thought. She is not wearing a bra. He was looking directly at her small mound of flesh. Her pink tip was clearly erect. It was fine. Jed felt himself getting aroused under the table. She was giving him a good view of that little pink flower. Oh, that was lovely. She was still firm at her age.
“I like to interact with students,” she said. She moved so that he saw her tender flesh even better now. “It tends to keep one young. Or to feel young. I like to relax from teaching and unwind a little. She smiled. Of course, I cannot always do it when Al is around. But I have some freedom this semester now that he is in India. I can almost feel like I am a student again.”
Jed thought her hard tip had swollen more.
“I am sure you make more money as a professor, however,” Jed noted.
“Don’t believe it’s a lot,” she said. I don’t know where it all goes. A professor does not make any real money. Our salaries here are not great. We just manage to pay the bills and the mortgage. Anyway, one can never really have the freedom and lifestyle that one has as a student, once it is over. It is one of the best times in one’s life.”
I’ll bet she got laid every weekend, he thought. And by a different guy.
She shifted to the right and her other small mound of flesh was exposed. It was just as beautiful as the other. Jed’s was now clearly aroused.
“Why did you come back to school?” Jed.
“Oh, I had to get out of the town where I was teaching high school,” he said. “I didn’t want to get stuck in that for a long time. Besides, I want to learn and really love being in the university.” He was starting to salivate now for those little mounds of flesh.
“I know the feeling,” she said. “Somehow, it becomes a little less exciting when one gets to the professor level, though. You were in the Peace Corps, I believe.”
“Two years in India,” he said. “Up in Punjab. The ultimate male chastity belt, saltpeter, noassatall.”
“No girlfriend for all that time? You poor dear. But now you have a chance to make up for it.”
If you are willing, he wanted to say.
“I will do my best to,” he joked. “The university is the best place.”
She suddenly realized she had to make a preemptive strike before one of those hungry young coeds could get a hold on him. Now she was about to hook him.
They had another beer.
Her zipper had gone back up slightly, after the exposure, but it had worked wonders for Jed.
“I like to see the front. Can I come to your side, Jed?”
“Sure,” he said. She came around and snuggled beside him.
“This is more cozy,” she said.
He didn’t know if he should put his arm around her. Then he felt her arm behind his back. She pressed his side and pulled him closer.
“I like the feel of a man,” she said. Her fingers pressed his flesh inside his thin shirt. “A real man.”
“I would like to feel you too,” he ventured.
“Put your arm around me here,” she said. She put his arm behind her back. He felt her warm flesh through her dress. He let his hand move down to feel the flesh of her hip. It was nice and meaty.
“Your fingers feel good.” She kissed his cheek. Her lips lingered momentarily. He pressed his fingers on her hip.
Their food arrived. It was delicious after warming up with beer.
“Can you eat with one hand?” She took his hand and placed it on her leg.
It was heavenly. He took his liberty to move it gently up and down her leg. Her skirt had ridden up a long way. She squeezed his hand between her legs.
She was in his mind for good after that.
She dropped him off at his place and told him that he could call her sometime. She said she had to go to a program in the evening. She gave him a quick kiss on his lips.
Jed called her in the middle of the week. She said that he should come over on Friday. She had the day off. It was in December, just before Christmas and the semester was ending. The weather had turned colder and snow came the night before.
When Jed arrived, she had come out to scoop the snow from the driveway. She told him that she liked working outside.
She gave him a hug and a kiss on his cheek.
“I will help you,” he said. “It will go faster that way.” He took another shovel and worked beside her.
“This is fun,” she said. “I expected to do it all by myself.”
It had been a quite big snow, eight to ten inches, and they had to work an hour to finish it. They were working up an appetite. The skies were gray threatening and more snow was coming down.
When they finished, she took him into the garage. She suggested Jed drive his car in from the snow. There was room for another car. When Jed was in, she closed the door. It was half-way dark inside. She touched his arm and looked into his eyes. It was now a cozy place. She kissed his cheek in a friendly way and held him. Then she kissed his lips.
“I know there is something you want to see,” she said. She had slipped her wool hat off. Her cheeks were red from working in the cold. The exercise had warmed her up. She looked delicious that way, her brown hair around her face. She unbuttoned her coat. Underneath, she was wearing a warm wool top. She pulled it up to bare her small breasts.
“They are small,” she said. “I hope you like them.”
Jed was surprised, but delighted.
“They are beautiful,” he said. “Just beautiful. Can I kiss them?”
“That’s what they are for,” she said. “For kissing. And tasting. Most men want to do both.”
What she said next came right out of the blue.
”I want you, honey. I have been thinking of you. I want to feel you inside me.”
“Right here?” he asked.
“That’s an idea,” she said. “It’s sort of cozy here, and cool. I feel good after working.”
Jed did not expect it to happen so quickly.
“You’re sweet,” he said. He kissed her lips. He felt her hand feeling of the swelling inside his jeans.
“And you are young and delicious,” she said. “I want to see you with your clothes off.”
She moved her small tip to touch his lips.
At the side, there was a work bench with an old carpet below. She moved to the bench and slipped her boots off on the carpet. Then she quickly slipped her jeans off and got rid of her lace. She was nude except for socks and her wool top pulled up around her neck. She sat back on the greasy work bench and pulled up her legs. Jed could see her mature soft mound between her legs.
Jed wanted her. He got rid of his clothes.
“You are beautiful,” she said.
She pressed her hand to his arousal.
“We should do it in the snow,” she said. “I dare you.”
“Is this for a grade?” Jed asked.
“It might be,” she said. “If it’s worth it.”
“You would be nice anywhere.”
She slipped her boots on and started to open the door on the side. Dusk had fallen. She slipped out and around the corner of the house, stepping in the deep snow. Jed ran after her in the snow in only his shoes and caught her from behind.
He remembered how he had seen an old bull mate with a young heifer when he was in high school in the old barn lot. His long red proboscis shot out more than a foot as he mounted and penetrated the heifer. Jed was amazed at the length of the bull’s penis and saw his stream of hot semen shooting out even before he pierced her. He stayed on her as his loins pumped his semen up her rabidly, before he was spent and fell back.
You are so nice, Meredith, Professor Burk. She came suddenly in her excitement. He would take it to the end. There was no feeling of cold. They were like the Tantra worshipers in the Himalayan ice fields. Just like that old bull, he thought. Good to the last drop.
He clung to her body tightly. The wind was picking up.
They rushed back into the garage and out of the cold.
“That was fun.” She laughed. “You were good. I love it that way. I don’t get it that way from most men. Not like that. Let’s go inside.”
In her kitchen, they drank hot chocolate to warm up.
“That was a little crazy, but nice,” Jed said. “I never expected that you were going to be wild like that. Jesus, Professor Burk.” He kissed her.
“Wild is my middle name,” Meredith said. “Meredith Wild Burk. One does get bored here sometimes. When I find a new man, I want to have some fun with him. You are fun to be with.”
“What will we do?” he asked. “How should we spend the evening?”
“You can do it again, when you feel like it,” she said. “What we just did. Now that you have got a little taste of me, I think you will like me better by and by. I know I would like you again a lot. I think sex is glorious.”
“But first, I will make some soup and sandwiches. Then I will show you something upstairs.”
Jed was thinking of eating her small mounds of flesh again. He didn’t know if he would like her better the next time. He had liked it a lot on the first round.
“TV and films are boring sometimes,” she said. “I am working on a project upstairs. You can help me.”
They took care of the appetite they had worked up in the snow.
She took him upstairs. It was an old house with the rooms still old fashioned. Fortunately, they had not been ruined with modernization. It was a cozy place to work. Outside the old fashioned windows, the snow kept falling.
She had a big box of old black and white photographs. They were of members of the family years thirty to fifty years ago. She was fixing them in albums.
“These are precious,” she said. “They just don’t make photos like this anymore. Even if you do not know the persons in the photo, they are priceless, really.
She wanted him again. She took him into her bedroom and slipped her top off showing him her lovely small breasts. “Come on honey,” she said. “You are such a beautiful young man, I had to have you,” she said. “I couldn’t leave you to those young cunts, those undergrads. You need a woman who can fully appreciate you. I want you again.”
Jed slipped his clothes off. You are so beautiful. It is easy to love you. Is this going to affect my grade?”
“You are doing OK, so far,” she said. “Don’t let me down. I will think about your grade later.”
He let her take it all out of him. She is better than those women back in Richland, he thought. One needs brains even to fuck. She knows what she likes and is not afraid to let a man know it.
He was spent. She had healed him from the tensions of the week. What the fuck am I doing with a professor like this? he thought.
She kissed him. “Don’t start falling in love with me,” she said. “You are beautiful. My beautiful toy boy but I have to keep up my position at the university. You can give me all you want but we have to be discreet.”
He loved the experience. She liked him as a young man, but he knew that she could have many other lovers if she wanted.
He would spend the night with her. It was like sleeping with a woman the age of his mother.
When he woke in the morning, he noticed the wrinkles around her eyes as the morning sun came through the curtains. She was an aging woman, but still attractive. She kissed him. She reached for him with her delicate fingers.
“Jed, you will kill me with that big weapon of yours. I love you and want you, but I don’t know if I can take your young love, mating with a young man like you. What should I do with this big thing?”
She squeezed and Jed sank into her morning warmth. She was so good.
“You do it so easily,” she said. “You are a natural.”
Jed got out of bed in the nude, still half-erect. Walking to the windows he pulled back the curtains and could see that it had been a big snow. Now it had stopped. Meredith was still nude under the comforter.
“Come back to bed for a while, honey,” she said. “The neighbors are going to notice that I have a young man in my bed. I don’t want them to be jealous.”
He slipped in beside her and she clung to his nude young body.
“You are so nice, a nice toy to have to play with. It would be so nice to have you around all the time. I could have you every day for breakfast.”
What can I do with you?”
“Just about anything you want,” Jed said.
She made him breakfast.
He had to scoop more snow to get his car out of her garage. He was glad that he didn’t have to worry about her husband coming, being off in India.
After lunch, they built a snowman in the back yard. They played around like children and had a snowball fight. He took her down in the snow and kissed her. He bit her neck and slipped his hand into her sweater to squeeze her. When they went in to warm up, Jed offered to give her a massage. They went upstairs and stripped their clothes off. Jed was aroused at once.
“Look at that,” she said. “You can be my white snowman with your big red carrot sticking out. We should have made that snowman like you.”
“You taste good,” she said. “Well you taste like a man. I think I have to take care of this thing.”
You are the best thing I have had in a long time. It is good that I met you.”
When they relaxed, she told him about the course she had taken in sex when she was an undergraduate at an all-girl’s university. She knew all the different techniques and was willing to teach a willing man. He was going to learn more from her than just academic knowledge.
Those days were gone forever, Jed thought. Those days of leisure, being a student who could experiment with the finer things of life.
Chapter Ten: The CEO
Vahap Yeter, Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chancellor of Midas Celestial University (MCU), had recently been awarded a doctorate in business administration from MCU. His dissertation, which was a study of the business model university, was approved by his dissertation committee members, which included Professor Kamber Uslu, the Rector, the director of the graduate school at MCU, Bulut Bey, and other school officials.
As head of the Department of Economics, Yeter Bey coveted the title of Professor, and often billed himself under that title, although, in fact, he was only an assistant professor. However, except for the fancy-sounding title, Yeter Bey did not give a shit about academics and professors. He had managed to get himself into the position of holding the purse strings of the university. Millions and millions of dollars and Euros flowed through his hands continuously. He ran the show. There was no accountability. He was running a business and as CEO, he was surely skimming a large amount off the top for himself.
Jed learned what the CEO really thought about academics who spend all their time teaching, doing research and writing books and articles, from his former student. Vedat had told him about meeting the CEO when he had asked for a lighter teaching load so that he could work on some articles for publication. The CEO sized him up and decided that he was the right stuff to join the management team of MCU.
“Why are you wasting your time with those fools who are spending their lives as academics,” Yeter Bey had asked him. “Why don’t you join us and make some money, some real money. Professors are just simpletons who do not know how to make it in the real world. They cannot be successful in the real world and so they teach. You know the saying, those who can, do, and those who can’t teach. You will stay poor all your life as an academic. Come on! Come and join us in implementing the new business model and you will be living in one of the biggest mansions in Chaos in a few years. Don’t piddle away your life screwing around with these brainless students. They are just here to be milked and keep the place running. But we would never let them find that out. You have to play the game. Who cares whether they learn anything? Truth is, they will be better off out in the business world if they don’t learn anything. Give it a serious thought. You are a young Chaosarian. You could help us out, while doing a lot of good for yourself. It is a whole new world now. The business model is taking over the universities all over the world. It is a trend that cannot be resisted. State universities are all going to be either closed down in future or privatized. We are going to just get bigger and bigger. The business model will take over everything before long. You should join before it’s too late. Get in on the ground floor. You can even be a part-owner. We will open another ten universities shortly. Just like McDonald’s. We are learning all this from America. It is what is really American about the university but we don’t tell anybody that.”
Vedat had turned him down because he was actually interested in being an academic. It was not that he did not like money but he wanted to use his mind to understand something about the world and write books and articles. Vahap Bey’s lecturing was just a cover. He never even bothered to prepare for his lectures. He figured that someone making as much money as him could lecture off the top of his head and still lecture circles around those stupid fools who lived on a professor’s salary and did research. Didn’t his high salary, which was undisclosed, prove just how smart he was?
Vahap Bey’s rise to the top to run Midas Celestial University was not unrelated to his career in politics. Now he had plenty of connections to feel plenty secure. A few years earlier, he had managed to become a minister in the parliament of the state of Chaos. It was well known, and widely believed, that he had embezzled at least three million US dollars while holding that position. For two years, he had been the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources for Chaos. It was surely proof of his prowess as a competent manager to be able to pull it off and get by with it. He would clearly be a valuable asset to any institution on the business model.
At some point hubris or a sort of megalomania had seemed to get the better of Vahap Bey. He posted his accomplishments on the internet on a page in which he claimed to be the “most influential name” in Chaos. And then a long paragraph appeared in garbled English containing a series of phrases, fragments of sentences, apparently lifted from some applicant’s resumes. This unintelligible hogwash included such phrases as “solution oriented in any position both academic and political”; “which can detect the target”; “can cope with the challenges of information and research-based strategic planning”; “leadership in carrying out the activities based”; “national and international meetings”; “the institution represented in terms of management and coordination of internal and external relations” and more such turgid and trite phrases. It was fit to bring about an instantaneous paralysis of the brain to anyone attempting to read and comprehend this drivel. And wasn’t that the point? Once the brain was paralyzed, the reader would be sold on his abilities. Words were used to fill up lines, not to be meaningful.
But it was not enough for Assistant Professor Yeter. He went on to list the positions he had supposedly held. These included the “founder and coordinator of campuses in the UK, Singapore, the USA and Aslanistan”; “The Director of Sales at Pampas Co. Ltd.”; and “the treasury officer of the National Bank of Chaos”.
He was, of course, a member of the Young Businessman’s Association, the Chamber of Commerce of Chaos, the European Foundation for Management Development, and a member of the board of directors of the Chaos Sports Club. This was followed by a list of his accomplishments in the field of environmental engineering. Notable was his exhaust emission project.
It was not clear how someone who could cobble up such phony nonsense could write a doctoral dissertation. But his work had been duly certified by the Higher Education Council in Chaos, FAKCRAP, which oversaw higher education in the country.
Yeter was a man on the make with a great future ahead of him. It had just been announced that the master plan for MCU included doubling the size of the student population in the next five years, in addition to establishing three new campuses in Chaos. When it came to business production, McDonald’s Corporation had nothing on MCU with Vahap Bey at the helm.
Chapter Eleven: Deniz University
Classes were about to begin the next week. Jed Singer looked up the location of his classrooms in Elektron Park at the end of the week. Some of them were in the same building as his office, Einstein Complex. The walls of the open atrium displayed various universalistic phenomenon which would supposedly stimulate the imaginations of the students, if not the professors. Electrons shot out at the speed of light from willing nucleuses of high-mass atomic atoms. Somewhere near the second floor, they met up with protons in a burst of light. Quarks and mesons were not hesitant to follow, shooting off at wild angles, diving in eliptical curved paths, in a dazzling celestial display of the glories of science. Following the erratic path of these high-energy particles Jed discovered one of his classrooms, Room 242, where his mission would be to enlighten the students regarding political sociology. It was truly celestial. He noticed that the projector had been ripped out of the ceiling leaving behing a cluster of dangling wires. The destiny of electrons in the real world was presumably somewhat less efficacious than those displayed on the walls of the building. There was clearly a gap between theory and practice but never mind. The business model was up and running.
He was aware that not many students would show up the first week of class but he had to be there. He went over to the tea and roll place for an afternoon break. He noticed the plants in the corners of the business. Again plastic. Some of the branches had been broken off. Others were covered with a thick layer of dust. They were not making out as well as the elementary particles on the walls of Elektron Park.
Other professors appeared, attempting to while away the hours before five o’clock and ultimate human liberation. A rather dead-beat aura hung over the place. Jed settled back sipping his cup of hot tea. The beginning of another year. He hoped that his experience would be better this time around. Hope springs eternal.
He remembered his first day at the last place, Deniz University in Deniz City. Jed had hoisted himself out of bed at half past six and began his preparation to hit the road. It was the first day of September and the first day of his contract in his new job. It was a forty-five kilometer drive to his new university where he was about to begin another regimen of teaching Aslanistan students. The actual teaching at Deniz University (Sea University) would not begin until the last week of the month so it would hopefully be a leisurely and relaxed entry into his new position. He was nearing retirement age and had no use for getting himself into any high pressure, ass busting, hard working, competitive situation at this point in his career. He just wanted to take it easy.
Refeshed by a quick shower, he felt a slight bulge in his cock as he stood shaving. The dream had come in early morning. That young buxom woman that he knew from his class the previous year was there with him. Her young plump breast was in his mouth and he pulled in her soft flesh and felt his hard cock throbbing to enter her. He almost made it, approaching her wet pink slit ready to thrust his greedy tool inside and reach nirvana just as the fucking alarm clock exploded in his ear. His approaching joy evaporated, anihilated forever. Fuck. It would have to happen like that. Still, who knows, he might see her again, after all. If not, well, what the fuck, they came along in a never ending stream, those lovely little flowers, with buxom bodies and firm, budding tits, pushing out and up, like rabid swelling boils, spring mushrooms, erupting deliciously about to burst their thin bras. He remembered her dreamy eyes.
In the first week of class, he would be in love again, with at least two or three of those sweet little lovelies, angelic but devilishly cunning and dangerous. What they would want would be a grade, a decent grade, and thats all, from him but he could always drool. That one, well, he had taken her to that beer place. She hadn’t taken a beer. Instead, just drank big gulps of his as they ate the free popcorn and he looked into her dreamy young eyes and drooled over her young stupidity and budding tits and hips. Her face still not yet cleared of adolescent pimples. He touched her hand. It was not elegant but soft, tempting. He touched her ring. She didn’t seem to get it. Her young lips were so inviting. The soft flesh of her arms. Growing fleshy. Called her mother. Motherfuck! Not a good idea. Didn’t she know that he would like a kiss? A little playing? That he would like to have her if there was a way. If she had her place, instead of living with her parents and little brother out in that middle class housing tract.
He touched his cock and balls. Imagined pushing up inside that young, plump, pussy and stirring it up, driving deep and exploding, reaching nirvana as his juice spurted out wildly. Morning meditation. What the hell. Shaving done, he wiped away the remaining cream and brushed his teeth. He put the old battle axe away for the time being, which had now become almost hard with those thoughts of young cunt and firm tits. Hope springs eternal. Maybe this would be his lucky year. The young ones from rich business families were pretty, pretty and exceedingly stupid. What the hell. The more intellectual ones, generally thin and not good looking. Now and then a nice looking bright student but not the type that one could play around with. They gave him delicious tickles in his balls. He could not help fantacizing about them even when he tried, which was not too often. They were worth the drool. Sometimes he teased them. But most of the time they didn’t get it. Youth, Hydrogen, Stupidity. For them, he was just another old man over the hill.
Still too early and too hot for neck ties. He hardly every put them on anyway, unlike the Aslanistan professors who seemed to have been born in a suit and tie. Molded and poured in for the duration. He sometimes wondered if they came into the world that way from day one. Born with that fucking tie wrapped tightly around their throat. Conjured up in his mind how they would look without a tie. European. The European bourgeois disease. America was terribly proletarian in contrast, even though no one there was aware of it. They all imagined themselves as middle class in that country, even while poor and grubbing for a living. They ruled the world because they were so much smarter than anyone else in the world and knew how to do everything better. It was an American truism.
His cereal down, Jed finished his cup of tea, and picked up his bag with a standby book, an old rag from India, to keep him entertained in a pinch and headed for the road. The drive. Pleasant enough in the cool morning, if not for the drivers, who roared up behind one and flashed their lights, threateningly, headed for their business jobs in the city. Modern young Aslanistanians, born behind the steering wheel with a cell phone glued to the side of their heads and a pack of Marlboros. His old commercial car, half van, half car, trucked along at a moderate pace. Fast driving was treacherous in any event on these roads with slowing minibuses, and farmers out with their tractors and wagons. Retirees in their old delapidated clunkers. Workers getting to their next day job. Cows wandering into the road or driven into the path of cars by peasants. Now and then even a flock of goats and sheep blocked the road.
The university was just on the edge of the city, past the stretch of freeway that skirted the coastal town and ran around the bay. There were parking problems. Not being familiar with the situation, Jed edged away from the morning traffic this time and grabbed the first available safe place to park on a side street a couple of kilometers away. He would scope out the situation around the university that day and see where to park. He took the short taxi ride, arrived, paid his five bills to the driver and entered the sliding glass doors of the building. The university, so called, consisted of a single building, a big reconstructed eight story cracker box of glass, steel and concrete, red and blue finish over the concrete walls. An older building remodeled to look modern. The name of the university in giant letters emblazoned on the front of the big blue building. DENIZ UNIVERSITY
Inside, he told the front security personnel at the desk that he was a new professor. They showed him the way to the personnel office, which was on the same floor, in the hallway just off the large lounge where registration was held. The door indicated the human resources office. Ibrahim Bey, an older friendly man, nearing retirement, greeted him from behind the tidy desk with an aging computer. He invited him in and he sat in one of the two chairs opposite his desk. Ibrahim knew only a few words of English, so Jed had to rely on his rudimentary language skills to take care of the paperwork. Some information was collected to get him on the payroll and officially employed. He understood that they would find him an office at some point.
When things lapsed, Ibrahim invited him down for tea. Just at the end of the hallway and down the steps, he showed him the tea room. At the counter, he ordered a couple of glasses of tea, those little slim glasses, just a couple of good sips for an American. But they were cheap and they would keep coming as long as one wanted to keep sipping them. For some it was almost the whole day, especially given the tempo of life in this city.
The tea woman behind the counter joked with Ibrahim and filled the small glasses from the large electric samovar behind the counter as she giggled. In her fifties, she was the sexiest tea lady he had ever seen. He noticed her white fleshy tits in her low cut red top. In his old university, it had been men, all men. Sometimes with a strong body odor. But this was infidel Deniz City, a different culture from peasantish central Aslanistan. Here, even the tea woman could show some class along with her tits. She definitely looked ready for seduction, if the right chords were struck. In tight fitting jeans, almost too tight to move. That lovely little ass. Ted imagined his hands on her buns and how they would feel. In that tight top, low-cut, she boldly sported the cleavage between her nice mature tits. She seemed friendly and all the guys joked with her continously as she went about her work, producing multiple glasses of tea and Aslanistanian coffees brewed up in a little electric pot that she flicked on and off as the coffee sizled and she giggled. Jed usually took tea. The Aslanistanian coffees were so small that it was hardly worth the shot, as far as he could tell. With tea, one could drink two or three until it took effect.
He sat outside with Ibrahim in the pleasant morning air. The sun was just making it up over the eight story apartment buildings behind the university. The personnel director lit up a cigarette at once and offered him one. Jed declined and they discussed the prices of houses in redimentary terms. He flicked the ash of his cigarette in a little metal ash tray with a wetted napkin inside. Ted told him where he lived, outside the city, down the coast. Ibrahim Bey lived nearby in another small community near the sea.
A little later he met a friendly member of the faculty, a middle aged assistant professor who showed him an office. Later in the morning, he was ushered into a nice big pleasant room with big windows, a nice desk and computer. Behind the desk was a big soft chair covered in white leather. At first, he was foolish enough to think that this would be his office, not knowing that he was just to be parked here for a few days, until his little cubby hole, or rather the corner of a big room, would be designated as his “office.” In fact, this was a dean’s office and there was no way he was going to enjoy such luxury. Cem, the middle aged assistant professor who had worked in a bank in the US, took him down for another round of tea. There were some faculty members sitting around, drinking tea and coffee and smoking. Most were very young, graduate student ages, some in the English prep school, some teaching writing, while the others were mostly older, clearly over the hill.
The main activity was smoking, more accurately, chain smoking, and tea drinking, completely oblivious to the passing of time. As the clock ground on, the cigarettes came out one by one in succession. Keyf, or leisure, was the ticket in the coastal city and how the faculty spent most of the hours of their day when they were not actually in the classroom. It would be almost a month before classes would start. Laid back, no worry. People were friendly. No worry here. Yes, he was clearly going to like this place. And there were clearly some nice-looking young faculty.
That day, in the afternoon, he got some information about what he would be teaching from the dean. The dean was short and big around the middle, with a hefty gut, six years younger than himself. His limp necktie rested on his protruding stomach. The Aslanistanian model, Jed thought. He invited Singer into his office. He had seen the dean only once before at that morning interview the day he was hired. Behind the large cluttered desk, the dean peered at him through little round piggy eyes. He made an unintelligible remark. Was it in the local language or English? Jed couldn’t pick it out. He pulled off his glasses, laying them on the clutter of files and papers on his desk, ran his pudgy hand over his eyes and laughed, baring his ugly yellow teeth. About what, Jed had no idea. Then he became serious, picked up his glasses, holding them in his hand, looked at Jed and his mouth began to move in jerks, his fatty almost bald head bobbing with each word. “Doctor Singer… you will teach two courses,” he said. He moved his glasses in his right hand, while the short stubby fingers of his other hand punched the air to make a point. He looked over his desk and then scanned the computer screen to his right, as if he was looking for the courses to appear from somewhere. “I think you have taught behavioral science?”
“Sure,” Jed lied, “of course.” Not only had he not taught it, he didn’t have a fucking clue what the course was all about. Nevertheless, he would have been ready to jump and teach it, even if the subject had been ancient Hottentot tribal music. Give him a couple of days he would have the course scoped out. No problem. It was all elementary anyway. Over the years, he had taught whatever came up. Whatever the situation called for in any given semester. All the same shit anyway. No one ever remembered anything after the final exam anyway. A lot of them never knew anything related to the course even before.
“And introduction,” he spit out. “Introduction to Political Science.” His head jerked. His head swiveled in his direction. “You know a book for it?” His lips were pressed tight together, as if serious. His head and body as motionless as a statue, holding his glasses in mid air.
“Sure,” Jed said, this time not lying. He had written his own text for that very basic course some fifteen years ago and a second edition had been out for more than a decade. Disgusting subjects, things he would rather have forgotten about for the duration, having plowed through writing a textbook on the subject. He found it uncomfortable to open it and read what he had written years before. It was easy to just pull it out of his ass.
“Yes, I have my own textbook,” Jed said. Abdurrezzak Bey, the Dean, either did not hear him, or ignored him, his mind elsewhere. He stared at Jed again intensely, as if he was trying to decide upon a piece of meat at the butcher shop examining exactly what kind of meat it was, if it was somehow defective. “Emine Hanum will help you,” his head bobbed again, the short, sharp words spit out of his fat lips. Then he put a full stop to it, pressing his lips together firmly. He smiled, showing his large teeth again, and extended the stubby fingers of his chubby right hand, indicating that the conversation was finished. Ted took his hand momentarily. One might have gotten the impression that he was a friendly man ready to help. A fool, that is. Jed was cautious toward him, as with all authority.
Doctor Singer thanked him for his time and started to leave. Dean Odun turned to his desk digging his stubby fat fingers into a pile of papers for some hidden document and replaced his glasses on his face. His desk and side shelves were stacked and cluttered up with thin weekly newspapers, propaganda from various religious Tarikats, and marginal right-wing political parties, unread, but proliferating like a virulent virus running rampant and seemingly about to take over and choke the place like Mississippi Kudzu vines.
In the afternoon, he met Emine Hoca. She was an aging woman, now in her fifties with a thick body and pasty oriental Central Asian face. Her ancestors had emmigrated from one of the former Soviet Republics. She was Kazakh, as it turned out. She was still an assistant professor, as she had not been able to pass the oral examinations to become an associate. From her he found out something about the nature of the behavioral science course. She showed him some possible text books. One was a business oriented book, called Organizational Behavior. Some were in the local language. He would have to use the English one. Looking through it, he saw that it was written essentially for idiots, easy, stupid, dull, disgusting, revolting, seven hundred pages of bona fide lies bound between the two hard covers. From two American business professors in Texas. The perfect textbook. Essentially social psychology for business majors. Yes, it would do just fine, he thought. Good enough for government work. What the fuck. So he asked to borrow the book to start preparing some lessons ahead of time in his spare time. If he could avoid regurjitating from the revolting pictures and examples. Smiles, smiles, smiles, all business smiles and ties. Those poor guys and women had been ruined. Lobotomized. Strip mined souls.
For the other course, which was the introduction, he would just use his own textbook, once he could find a copy. He would have to read the son of a bitch again. He would shout, preach and ramble, say absurd things and watch the idiots trying to copy it down in their notebooks. The serious students, at least. The lazy ones would pick up their cell phones and take a picture of the board, not going to the trouble to copy the information down. Hell, he might even sing, he thought, from time to time. He was a singer, after all. He had left his copy of the text behind among some other things and would not be able to get it for a few days. He would teach it off the top of his head in the meantime. After all, he had written the son of a bitch.
Saturated with tea and the mind numbing small talk, as well as Aslanistanian, which he only partially understood, he wanted a little retreat. The group bailed. Lunch was very basic Aslanistanian food for three bills. Lentil soup, beans, bulgar, yogurt. Back in his temporary office he began to read through the dreary drivel in the text book. Looking through the book, he began to realize why students often hated universities and the courses. They were right. It was truly revolting. However, he began to read through it and write down the relevant terms. A list of bullshit terms. Always a good starting point. It looked serious. Challenging. It was standard university course bullshit. Unadulterated horseshit. He would adulterate it, with some Marx. With something radical. Throw in some common sense. Best way to fuck up a serious course. And piss the university off at the same time, if they were to find out about it. Hilarious from an ideological standpoint, if not so noxious. The book was big on Taylorism. It would be comical if not so tragic. It was horrible stuff. Terrible. But he decided that he could actually have fun with it up by jazzing it up. No one could take such crap seriously, anyway. He would spend some time making up power points from the terms in the book, and at the same time mix in some things that made more sense, like some concepts from Marx, which would provide a context from which to observe perverted business stupidity, the bourgeois view of the world that the American business professors were dishing out in the text. He would work in some of Harry Braverman. He groaned at the absurd statements in the text, made so flippantly. Fuck’ N A! He would spend the next three weeks until classes began making up some power point presentations. At first, he imagined doing the book in a semester, skipping some chapters. Later he would cut it back to half and go with that, making the book last for two semesters. No need to bust one’s ass. This was not America, after all.
Mid afternoon, he bailed out. That was as much as he could take. He scoped out the possibilities and would risk parking near the university in coming days. It was possible, even if one had to go into the back streets some distance.
He realized it was not too bad and was upbeat about the job. He would play the game. He would pimp the crap for a living and a place in the sun out of the high plains Central Aslanistan cold. What else could he do?
Chapter Twelve: The Aids Test
Once his contract for the academic year was official, Jed had to go for an aids test. This was a requirement for everyone entering Chaos for work or study. Since there was a quite stiff fee for the procedure, it brought in quite a lot of revenue to the country. It was nothing new. He remembered doing it more than twenty years before. Now it had become a virtual institution. Klaus had to do the same thing, so they decided to go together to the old city hospital. They had to do it on their own, unlike in the old days when the university provided a bus.
They were told to come between seven and eight o’clock in the morning before eating anything. He went with Klaus in his small car which he had just bought. They drove the short distance through the cool morning air and bright sunny blue skies. At seven thirty in the morning the parking lot behind the hospital was already packed. They managed to squeeze into the last available space in a corner of the lot, since the car was so tiny.
Inside the city hospital, they found the area where other victims were already waiting to give their blood. They were given numbers and told to wait.
The hospital building was old and quite dilapidated. The walls were discolored and dirty. Everything looked antiquated. The different departments were badly marked in Aslanistanian and hard to find. There were no signs in English which would have helped the large number of foreign residents who had to go through the procedure. This was odd, as almost everyone spoke English. There was a dismal deserted look. Even though the procedure was for foreigners, who were the main customers, no one had bothered to put up signs in English.
They secured two chairs in the waiting area. The numbers were being called one by one. Most coming for the test were students. Others had come to the island to work.
When one’s number came up on the monitor, one had to first go to a window and present their passport. A clerk was behind a desk copying down the information slowly with a pen. At another window, one paid their rather stiff fee, some sixty US dollars. Once the payment was secured, one was given some papers and a plastic vial and needles for the blood test.
After an hour Jed and Klaus saw their numbers come up. Once processed, they headed upstairs to give blood. Jed expected the blood to be taken from his arm as is usually the case. Instead, the technician, quite roughly inserted the needle into the back of his hand. It was quite painful and bled after the needle was removed.
They were then sent down the hall for the X-Ray. The system seemed primitive. The machine was old fashioned, like those he remembered seeing when he was a child in grade school sixty years ago. He slipped off his shirt and hunched close to the machine and then it was over. There was no urine test. This seemed to be all about Aids. More likely that was just a pretext for using the test as another way to generate more revenue. With tens of thousands of students and workers coming every year, that would be significant. The government did not like to tax the local citizens even for the few public facilities which existed.
The authorities seemed to be more concerned with giving aids tests to aging professors and older workers than the many young Russian prostitutes working in the casinos. It was not clear what this exactly had to do with protecting the population from aids. Plane loads of gamblers were flying in and out every weekend. Perhaps they might be more likely to contaminate the population. On the other hand, the suspect population seemed to be the professors and their wives.
It was a relief to get it over with. They were told to check back in a week or so for the results. Jed went back with Klaus and had some breakfast before heading to the university. Late morning the first class in his political economy course was scheduled. Jed went to the classroom but only one student showed up. He gave her the syllabus, told her how to get a copy of the textbook, and sent her home. Then he went back to his office to work. It was necessary to finish the index to his book by the end of the day. This put him in a rush. He would have to make it sketchy to finish on time. His back was starting to ache from the broken desk chair before he finished and could leave.
The next day there was more bureaucracy. It was necessary to register his car. It had been difficult to get information as to where to go for this. Jed asked the guys in the department about it. They described where the place was in Samos and even drew him a map of how to get there.
He had already decided to skip out for the work the next morning. There were just some things that had to be done if one were to live on the island and this was one of them. He informed the secretary, Fatima Hanim, where he would be. So it was not exactly a matter of playing hooky. Then he realized that he was entitled to have the morning off since he had an evening class. He realized that this nine to five business was already starting to put pressure on him in a psychological way. Why should he be brow-beaten when he was just taking care of bureaucratic requirement so that he could work at the school?
The next morning, he headed out with Zeynep. The traffic on the main road was always rather heavy at this time in the morning. Near downtown, they took the big auto-road that went over the mountains to the central plains and Samos. The road went up fairly steeply and curved around through pine forests below rocky crags in the mountains. On the opposite side, there was a gentle descent to the flat central plain.
The road, which had been built by Aslanistan some twenty years ago, was now quite old and worn. Maintenance was being done by crews from Aslanistan but much of the roadbed was in bad need of repair. Ted could not help noticing the sides of the road which were littered with an almost solid bed of plastic, glass and aluminum bottles and cans. Discarded packages and plastic bags had blown into many of the trees along the roadside and across into the fields where they were entangled in weeds and bushes. Not much has changed here, he reflected. People are still using the country as a giant garbage can, even while growing more nationalistic toward the little motherland. So much for environmental consciousness.
They passed another business model university on the way, built around the empire of a supermarket chain, then cruised around the first large traffic circle to enter the outskirts of the most populous city in the country. Jed and Zeynep attempted to follow the make-shift map and directions. Somewhere after the third traffic circle, they realized that the map and directions had failed to get them to the right location. They were lost.
A little further on, there was a small auto repair shop. Zeynep asked for directions to the vehicle registration station. The place was run by a scraggly Aslanistanian, who knew the place and attempted to explain how to reach the office. But it was too complicated. He wanted to help. The guy jumped onto his small motorbike and asked them to follow him.
“Just Look,” Zeynep said, “these Aslanistanians here are so helpful but these Chaosarians are so lazy they will never help you do anything.”
Jed and Zeynep followed the greasy guy through some small back alleys and ended up in a rough dirt parking lot full of enormous holes. The guy pointed to the run-down building on the opposite side of the wire fence. There was a small gate entrance. They thanked him and walked to the compound.
The building was in shambles, like all the government offices. There was a big room with dirty seats that was completely filled with people waiting, presumably to get some documents regarding their vehicles. Across the front of the room were several glass counters with clerks sitting around in the back sipping their morning coffees. The place gave the appearance of being in complete chaos. Zeynep went to the window which promised information and told the woman behind the glass what they had come for.
One had to have the proper form, she said. The yellow form that one gets when entering the country. Jed and Zeynep dug through their paperwork and could not find the form. On the way out, Jed discovered it in a pocket of the small folder. They returned and presented it to the middle aged woman at the window.
“Yes that is the right form,” the clerk said. “But does it have the stamp on the back?” Apparently that was generally the rub. No stamp on the back, as if it had been planned that way. Sure enough, there was no such stamp.
“Well, then you have to go back to the Midas port and get the stamp, the lady said.
Jed and Zeynep were disappointed and in confusion. Was there no way to get over this endless insufferable bureaucracy? Why hadn’t the customs officials done their job and stamped the form when they came through customs?
Nevertheless, they navigated their way through the traffic-heavy roads of the city and headed back to Midas. They got down to the jumble of white cement buildings at the port and found the customs office.
The crude office was almost vacant with a heavy set Chaosarian sitting behind a desk. They were greeted in a friendly manner and told to sit opposite the desk. Zeynep explained the situation. They were offered tea. The official studied the document.
It is like this is the first time that anyone has ever done this in this country, Jed thought. It should be something routine that is explained when someone arrives.
In a little bit, the official got the picture.
“You are at the wrong place,” he announced. “You have to go to the customs office in Samos. They sent you to the wrong place.”
They had been sent to the wrong place and even the wrong city. The official drew them a quite good map explaining exactly how to get there. It was in Samos but nowhere near the traffic office where they had gone before.
Jed and Zeynep finished their tea.
“It is very confusing and there is no information,” Zeynep complained. The official laughed and brushed it off. It was again, the old attitude, “This is Chaos.” Why be surprised? It was almost as if the locals were proud of the disorganization and confusion existing in their country. Perhaps part of their national character if not national pride.
Jed and Zeynep thanked him and once again hit the road to Samos. Mercifully, the towns were not far apart on the Island. They trucked back over the mountains and fifteen miles to Samos. Now the sun had risen high and the heat was boiling.
Out east of the city, they found the turnoff near the big Mercedes dealership run by the Chaosarian taxi mafia. Rows of sparkling new high-powered Mercedes automobiles were lined up on front. It was not a poor country. There was enough money in the economy that these cars sold quickly, some as taxis. It would not be long before they would be traded off for even newer models.
It turned out to be the wrong road but they found a nice bakery and did some shopping. The customs office was nearby.
They entered and asked about what they were to do. They were directed to a window. The woman behind the counter took their documents and told them to wait. They settled down at a canteen in the hallway and had tea, enjoying the snacks from the bakery. Jed sometimes could just lay back and let it roll on and not worry greatly. The only solution to bureaucracy was going to be death, he was sure, and as long as he was alive, a certain allotment of his days were going to be stolen by the incompetency of bureaucrats. They had to make a living too and if they worked efficiently, many of them would be out of a job. One had to accept that as a universal in every country. Somehow Max Weber had missed that point about bureaucracy, concluding that was was regular and efficient. But then he had never been in Chaos.
In a little bit, an attendant called them to the window. The woman explained to them exactly what had to be done. Jed and Zeynep were amazed. She knew exactly how to take care of it and gave them the information they might have had all along if it had been available. They would have to get rid of her. She was too efficient for the system.
It was necessary to buy a revenue stamp, bearing the face of the founder of the Republic of Chaos for five dollars. But they would first have to go to the police station for another document. They were given directions to the police station. It was difficult to find and was marked poorly. It was nearing noon and the traffic was heavy in the small streets. But eventually they obtained the document. Zeynep filled it out and it was duly signed and stamped by the head honcho in the police station.
Then it was back to the customs office some distance away. It was past noon. They were exhausted from looking up offices and the bureaucracy. With the police document, the woman processed the documents and said that it was good for a year.
Jed feared that they would have to go back to the other registration office but she said it was finished.
Back in Midas, they went to local soup place, which was one of the few places that had good cheap Aslanistanian food.
After lunch, Jed would be back in the broken seat in his office. It was the end of the week but since he had an evening class, he would have to meet the class and get the course underway. It was par for the course.
Chapter Thirteen: The Meeting
The first week of classes had passed with little result. Most students had not yet bothered to come to class. In fact, a significant proportion of them had not even arrived to register. There was no rush. They knew the system. The bottom line was loading up the university with warm bodies who could pay the fees. They were not about to be turned away, regardless of when they arrived. There were rules but they were just for printing in the handbook, not for observing. Nothing would get in the way of getting more students into Midas Celestial University.
Nevertheless, the next week lectures would begin for those students who did attend. Ted had rushed to edit the new edition of his textbook and write up the syllabus for each of his classes. There were some serious students, although from what Jed observed it probably did not exceed twenty-five percent of those enrolled.
On Friday the dean called a faculty meeting. Satilmis bey would make sure that the young faculty members knew the rules, even though as a general rule it seemed that rules in the institution were just for show. They were observed sometimes, when it was in the university officials’ interest. Otherwise, they could be waived.
Jed decided that he would just scope the situation out, play it cool and keep quiet. No need to stir up any trouble. He wanted things to go as easily as possible. The faculty drifted into the meeting room which was on the top floor of the building. The vast Mediterranean stretched out beneath them. Ted noticed that he was surely the oldest of the faculty members. There were only two who exceeded fifty years of age. All the rest were under forty and most under thirty.
The dean started the meeting. The first item on the agenda was to remind them of the rules. Right away this began to grate on Jed’s nerves. But he thought to let it go. Perhaps it was necessary for the young members of the faculty. Nevertheless, it was rinky-dink chicken-shit stuff to be sure. Jed resented the threats. Surely this was no way to treat an academic staff. Everyone was required to hold their classes for the full three hours, Kasapoglu said. There were no exceptions. If anyone was caught dismissing their classes even ten minutes early, their pay would be docked for that time.
What the fuck? Jed thought. What kind of chicken-shit stuff is that? This is worse than the fucking military. He felt it starting to get under his skin. He had been teaching for more than twenty-five years and now he was being subjected to this sort of shit.
These people are really champions of bullshit, Jed thought. But the dean was just passing on the information from the academic vice president. They are admitting students here that are in no way capable of doing the work and they are screwing the staff to the wall. The students hardly attend the full three hours of class.
Nevertheless, he held his tongue and let it go. He hoped the meeting would get onto something else.
The young faculty, many of whom used audio-visual in their classes, such as power-point presentations, started to ask about projectors. Would they be able to get projectors?
“Well, they have been stolen,” Satilmis Bey said. “In several of the classrooms, they have been ripped right out of the ceiling and are gone.”
Jed had already noticed that when he looked into the dreary dead classrooms with broken desks. Pieces of the cheap plastic desks were thrown into the corners of the rooms. Many of them were just seats. The desks had long since fallen off. He had decided that he would just forget using power point, given the situation. And besides, the department had no student aids to help the instructors set up the equipment. That, along with the frequent power cuts made it risky. It was quite uncertain if one could conduct a class that way. He would go the old fashioned way of lecturing.
“Now, we are going to get a couple of new projectors,” the dean continued. “But of course, it will not be enough to go around. I don’t know how we will decide who gets to use them,” he lied. “But what I want to say is that you had better take good care of them. You will be responsible if anything goes wrong with one of them.”
Most of the faculty members did not say anything. There were a couple of mild complaints that it was generally not possible to get a projector. Not only that, the faculty had to use their own laptop computers to conduct their lessons.
Jed thought that was unethical. There are eleven-thousand students in the school, he thought. They are paying fees. Still the low-paid faculty members have to subsidize the university by buying their own equipment. This was just not acceptable as far as he was concerned.
Kasapoglu continued. “I don’t like the situation, but if I am going to live and work here, then I have to put up with it. There is nothing I can do about it.”
Well, that might be true, Jed thought. But surely as the head of the faculty, he might at least try to do something about it. Why just roll over and play dead and accept the situation as it was? Satilmis Bey had clearly sold out to the establishment.
There were other complaints. To each and every one, Jed heard the same refrain from the dean. “I don’t like it, but there is nothing that I can do about it if I want to live here.” Jed was getting a little irritated by this wimp’s attitude. Why be so cowardly? Simply because jobs are scarce, Jed thought, and he is scared shitless that they will sack him if he raises a peep. Yes, that was the way this so-called business model was working. Maybe he was bucking to get inside the system, himself.
Then toward the end of the meeting, Jed’s old student, now an assistant professor in the department, brought up a point about the pay. It came out that the university was using a fake exchange rate to cheat the staff out of part of their pay. They promised a salary of two thousand Euros a month in the contract. But half of it was to be paid in Euros and half in the local currency. The official exchange rate was now 2.7 to the Euro. But the university officials used their own exchange rate of 2.2. The faculty members were being cheated out of a portion of the salary that they had been promised in the contract by this sleight of hand. Jed figured it was a ten percent cut in the salary that they had been promised. The university officials had slyly slipped in a tricky clause.
This was a shock to Jed and right away it made him angry. After all, hadn’t he signed that contract promising him 2000 Euros a month? This was surely a breach of contract. Or was it? After promising the salary of 2000 Euros, the university had secretly slipped a phrase into the contract below, “according the exchange rate set by the board of directors.” Since that rate was always lower than the market rate, the professors were taking it right up the ass. One could easily overlook this subtle trick. Midas University or Mid-Ass University, he thought. They are giving it to us right up the middle of the ass.
As the mealy-mouthed dean hemmed and hawed about the pay and how maybe they would raise the exchange rate before long, and again he didn’t like it, but that was the policy of the university, and such beating around the bush, Jed was just about to open his mouth. Perhaps fatally. And the year had hardly begun.
“Isn’t that a breach of contract?” Jed asked.
They call themselves a business university, operating on the business model. They teach marketing. But when it comes to the real market and the market exchange rate, they rat-fink out and use a phony exchange rate that cheats the staff out of their hard-earned pay, Jed was thinking.
These thoughts were coming fast and furious in his mind and it stirred his ire further. What else was he going to find out about this phony place? They were surely acting like a bunch of professional criminals, not less to their own staff.
And then something popped in Jed’s head. His resolve to stay reserved suddenly evaporated. Suddenly, he was Jed Singer, the one who gave it straight and did not pull any punches. He knew a piss-ant when he met one, and he was just about to crush one.
Jed took the floor.
“Well, I think that the real problem is that they are not treating us as academics with respect,” Jed said. “They are treating me like I don’t know when to come to class. They think that I don’t know when to end the class and go home. They treat me like I don’t know how to teach the class, after all the years that I have been teaching. They want to keep me in my office chained to the desk, just to kill time, when I could be working on something for publication. They want to keep me in a place where there is constant confusion and I cannot concentrate or think or write. One needs a place of quiet where one can think and work when they are not conducting office hours. That is how a real university is supposed to work. That is, in fact, how they work. I have only been in this university for two weeks but I have never been treated this way in any university before in my whole academic career. They do not want to treat me with any dignity with all my experience and work and publications. They are treating us like a common worker.”
Jed realized it was not exactly the right thing to say.
“Well, I don’t think any worker should be treated in such a way, regardless of his or her position.”
He was starting to find his pace and was burning up the ground going after all the chicken shit and rinky-dink bullshit that was starting to get on his nerves.
Satilmis bey was looking square at him with steady beady eyes, like, whoa, boy, you’re in a world of shit now! He would never be forgiven for this outburst of sanity. There was a threat in his eyes. There was a rebel in their midst.
“Do the people who made these rules know how to teach my classes better than me?” Jed continued. “Who are they to tell me how to teach my classes? At these universities, we teach management but do not do management. We teach politics but do not do politics. They cannot run this place without academics. They should either treat us like academics and let us do our jobs or close this place down.”
And then he felt he had to say something to the dean.
“I don’t think your attitude is quite correct to just accept the situation. If you think that things are not being run correctly, then you should stand up for what you think.”
He thought that he had probably gone too far but it was too late to take it back. A deadly silence had fallen over the group. The dean moved on to another subject stating that he would be going to a conference in India the next day and be back after the religious holiday that was coming up. It was a lie. The meeting in India was not a conference but a business meeting where the university was to receive bullshit awards for things it did not deserve. It was a meeting of business model universities.
Jed pulled in his horn and was quiet. He had spoken his mind and that was that. He figured that after that, they would consider him a threat. While the others agreed with him, no one was going to speak up in support of him.
These others are really damp squibs, total wimps just farting around, Jed thought. They are afraid to speak out in favor of what I said and give any objections to the way they are treated. They are afraid that they can only get a job in a university in Chaos and are afraid that they might be thrown out. It was clear to him that this was the way the university officials could keep them down and burden them with such heavy teaching loads.
A couple of days later Jed discovered something more sinister about the pay system from his office mate. Every university is required to pay into the state for retirement benefits. But how much they pay depends upon the salary of the professor. By splitting the salary into two parts, Euros and local currency, the university seemed to be doing the employees a favor. But actually they only paid benefits on the half of the salary in the local currency. In this way, they were being cheated out of half of their retirement benefits. It was saving the university a lot of money, but if the young professors remained at the university, they would get only half a retirement income. The beauty of the business model was becoming clear.
He was about to find out something about his own benefits which would blow apart his whole scheme apart and sink the rationale for coming to Chaos in the first place. The business model was rich with many hidden secrets. There were many tricks. This rampant bait and switch was out of control.
Chapter Fourteen: The Fix
When Jed thought about it, all these universities had their secrets. Perhaps it was not as blatant at Deniz University. The university was in a legitimate country and might possibly run into difficulty with the courts if they were not careful. But MCU had no such worries. The government and politicians were bought. He remembered the first few weeks back in Deniz City.
Trying to ignore the sometimes rough surface waters, Jed had hit the ground running, developing power point presentations for his classes before the grind began to have a head start on preparations. He didn’t mind teaching new material as long as he had the time to prepare but the time crunch always caught up with one sometime during the semester.
Fortunately, there was a religious holiday in the month before classes began in October and Jed used the time wisely making up his power points and illustrating them with interesting pictures. He loved throwing in some of Marx or other radical perspectives to contrast with the bourgeoise garbage dished up in the insipid American textbook.
Just after the holiday, Jed had been kicked out of his big plush and comfortable office and stuck in a corner in a small office with Cem, again temporarily. That week, the task had fallen to the faculty to choose a research assistant. Jed was always amused at how much politics and personal prejudices entered into the selection even at this relatively elementary level. Choosing someone who would essentially be a gopher. On the appointed day, some members of the faculty, including Jed, met to inteview the candidates.
In the Dean’s office, the committee gathered to sit around Abdurrazak Bey’s big cluttered desk. The pile of Tarikat tabloids had grown higher. The Dean began to talk, so low that one had to strain to hear him, then settled into a sort of lecture, in the local dialect, punching his fat stubby fingers into the air as he made his points. He tried to make jokes, pausing from time to time to laugh at himself, while his chelas sat around his feet, in respectful attitude, careful not to take issue with the man who held the power, and in any event, held enough power to kick any one of them out into the cold world of unemployment if he should take a notion. This was enough to ensure essentially blind compliance with any and all absurdities, regardless of how foolish or incompetent.
For Addurrezzak Bey, everything was politics, drivin by a religious thrust. Jed didn’t know about the young assistants, but was pretty sure that almost all the other faculty members considered him to be chock full of shit, up to the point of it running out of his ears. But no one could say anything. He was certain that the Rector and his modern and secular wife also hated his piggy gut and fat fuzzy head, his backward religious views and social conservatism but were stuck with him. He had been put there somehow from higher up, either through his political connections or other such support. He was irrremovable, at least by anyone in the big blue box called the university. Jed suspected that he was probably bucking for the Rector’s position but did not quite have the horsepower to pull it off. Not yet, at any rate.
During a pause in his dispensation of wisdom to his meek and respectful underlings, he quickly turned to Jed and asked him what he thought of the current Aslanistan Government. He was making a litmus test. Testing to see if Jed would trash the religiously oriented government which projected itself as transforming the country into a democracy. Without a clue, most of the press in the Western world had bought the party line. In fact several hundred secularists had been arrested and thrown into jail, including the Rector of Jed’s former university. The phony charges were trumped up. In most cases the scanty evidence had been fafricated. Fake documents had been planted secretly in their computers. They were held for years while a sort of pseudo trial dragged on. They could not defend themselves against all the charges in the five-thousand page indictment. They had gone as far as they could. Given their grip on the levers of power, to appoint religiously oriented administrators and officials. The era resembeld nothing more than the McCarthy era in the US when people went to jail for their political beliefs and were put on black lists. They were sent to jail by stool pigeons, paid government informers. So he was pointedly putting Jed in a spot. Jed could be moderate. But there was a limit to how full of shit he was going to be about the government that had now been in power for almost eight years.
“What do you think of this Government?” Abdurrazak asked Jed.
“Well. its certainly good at two things,” Jed said. “Building roads and putting people in Jail.” Abdurrezzak Bey laughed but Jed figured that he chalked it up for a few demerits for such an honest and essentially irreverant answer. It was clearly not shit eating enough in a shit eating age. What the religious communalists had started referring to as the “post secular age.” But Jed would be his own man. He hated this cringing Myopian shit-eating in front of functionaries who had come into political power as a result of politics and thats all. A critic of politics, he hated most regimes and politicians, of course, but was willing to give them credit where credit was due. He would give the Government credit for their vast road building program which had seemed to increase the safety of the roads and double laneing many kilometers. It had certainly made driving easier on the main routes. There was also the effort to clear substandard housing, the slum areas, and use state money to build modern cheap housing for the urban underclasses. There was a project to build high speed rail connections between the major cities. Also a good project but late, in Jed’s view. But no other government had taken on the task. And then, too, the economy had been better run, more stable, no doubt about that. On the other hand, it was the third world model of crony capitalism. No other previous government had done it. It was unfortunate, in Jed’s view, that it had taken a religious government to do those big projects in a competent way. None of the old secular based parties had been able to do it.
But on the other hand, in terms of democracy, it clearly left a lot to be desired. But then, in any event, why would one expect liberal democracy in a country with no historical tradition of liberalism but rather of authoritarianism. Jacobin rule from the top. One dictatorial regime had been replaced by another dictatorial regime, and now those in the ruling party were taking revenge on their political enemies. That was the way Jed evaluated it. He was not a true believer. Not an ideologue or a communalist. But Abdurrezzak Bey was, he was quite sure. But this was a university, not a religious school, so there was a limit to how reverent he would be. There was no place for reverence in a university which was supposed to be an intellectual establishment, after all. He was not sure how much honesty he could get by with. After all, the religionists were going around croaking about how the world had now entered the “post-secular age.” Post secular, my ass, Jed thought. When, he wondered, was the world really secular? He remembered being tortured by all those preachers in America almost all of his life. Were they now going to pick up signs and take out a march saying “We are all such and such a sect now!”
As it turned out, there were only two candidates for the graduate assistant position, both young women who were graduate students at other universities. Each of the four faculty members asked them one or two questions. The first candidate was quite self assured and Jed thought she did a pretty good job of answering the questions. The second candidate hemmed and hawed around and had trouble answering the questions, as far as Jed could see. So his vote would go for the first. He considered that it would be an objective evaluation. The second one was better looking, for sure, but the first seemed more brainy and self confident. After it was over, the faculty members wrote up their opinions. Ted preferred the first candidate. He could not have known that the winner had already been chosen. It was a fix.
There was also a written part of the interview, which would be evaluated by Emine Hanim later, and Jed was supposed to assist her in that.
The next morning, Jed met with Emine to evaluate the written part. They were to be given points, up to fifty full points. Jed read the essays and estimated what they should receive. It was a difficult process and Jed was glad when it was done and they averaged up their evaluations.
As it turned out, Abdurrezzak over ruled the faculty committee and rejected both candidates. The whole process would have to be done again. Why? Jed wondered. Talking to Cem, he found that Abdurrezzak had demanded, as a criteria, that the chosen candidate know either Arabic or Russian. In fact, it would be very difficult to find such a candidate among the young scholars in the country, unless they had gone to a religious school. In that case, they would have learned to read Arabic. Cem told him that fourteen candidates had applied, but Abdurrezzak had gone through and rejected all of the applicants except four. These were then invited to the interview but only two had come. In the end, they were not the ones he had wanted, presumably, and he apparently rejected those two also. The Dean must have his own secret candidate.
The next day, the Dean left on a ten day trip outside the country to the Caucuses. The Rector was informed of the decision that all the candidates had been rejected. It seemed that Abdurrezzak Bey was keeping his own candidate in reserve for the proper time if he could pull it off. The word came back from the Rector’s office that both candidates could not be rejected. The faculty had to choose one of the candidates. Otherwise, the rejected candidates could sue the university.
So it was back to the drawing board. Emine again ranked the candidates. Jed was involved but by this time it was clear that one of the candidates had been decided upon, not the best one, and that it was just a matter of fixing her scores so that she would be the legally chosen one. Ted noted that the one chosen was the weakest candidate. Had Abdulrezzak chosen her? Ted suspected this was the case. Her scores were changed another couple of times to comply with the legal requirements and make it look good, after the dean returned from his trip. Each time, as the new set of scores came down, a paper was placed in front of Jed and he was asked to sign it. He later learned that the chosen candidate was doing research on one of the prominent religious movements but she did not know Arabic or Russian. Whether this had any bearing on the decision, he did now know, but he saw that the whole process had been carried out in a very clumsy and unprofessional manner. Documents were being faked and back dated. It set a pattern which Jed was to see over and over again as the ship of fools plied the turgid waters. It seemed that Abdurrezzak Bey was unwilling to do things in either a fair or legal way. These signs clearly did not bode well for the future, he thought. That is what one gets when politicians are brought into academia.
Chapter Fifteen: The Ceremony
On the weekend, Jed recoiled from the nonsense of the week. Classes had not yet started seriously in his new job and already he had managed to land himself in a pile of shit. He didn’t know whether to blame himself or these frigging fools who had finally pushed him to the limit of all he could take in just two weeks. It was surely a record time. They were talented. It gave him a pain in the stomach right deep down in his gut.
Why don’t they just leave me the fuck alone and let me do my job, he thought. I know what I should do to shock these dead heads and start to knock some sense into their unwilling skulls. They will never do it on their own. They are so used to cooked nonsense as an educational diet that they would not know an idea if it hit them. And when one does hit them, they quickly suppress it. It would not do to let it get out. They would be sure to be punished for having it. Such has been their experience in schools, from day one, until now, and they are just drifting through. They knew everything that could be safely said. It has already been said innumerable times. Lessons drip off of the students like water. They pay no attention to them. Just put up with them, being forbidden to think. Fascism kills brains deader than a door-nail. They just regurgitate sentences and clichés for the exams. This never disturbs their brains. That is the full extent of their concept of education. Worse, the instructors think in the same way.
No one can take such stuff seriously, he thought. He had to focus on the real agenda. The students that want to learn something will, in spite of the university and the educational system. The important things were to get retirement, publish some books, and have some money for travel. But he needed a job for a while yet. This university is just chicken shit, he reflected. A bona fide mind-sweeping operation. Why should he be harassed by a bunch of piss ants obsessed with getting rich by milking unsuspecting students and their parents. It was a shitty place to work. They needed docile fresh professors who they could burden down with a terrific teaching load and then squeeze them to the limit. If they couldn’t break you down and crush you, they did not want you around. You would be the rotten potato that spoiled the others. The business model was a system of slave-driving, carrying on a hollowed tradition. That was the way profits had been made since day one of capitalism. Or more accurately, crapitalism.
The job was shitty and lucky at the time in this crazy dialectic of “higher” education. Higher than what? Surely higher education was a misnomer. More truthfully, lower education. How it could get any lower, he tried to imagine, but could not come up with anything.
Jed started working on a text book for political economy to fend off the boredom. The historical background kept him busy taking notes.
The next Monday morning, he went with Klaus to get the results his aids test. He was given a sealed envelope after showing his passport. The clerk refused to give the report to Klaus because he did not have his passport. It was being kept by the university. Klaus was pissed off and fought with them but they were firm. The pudgy guy dispensing the secrets of the aids test would not budge. They could enforce rules when they militated against one.
Jed took his aids test over to Human Resources. He climbed up the several flights of steps and found the cluttered office. The little bald-headed guy was there who had looked at his age and told him he was finished.
“No, a survivor,” Jed corrected him. Finished my ass, Jed thought. I’ll show them who is finished.
The guy had laughed.
He had to pay another fee to start the process for the work permit. He shelled out more of those green revenue stamps with the same boring face. Cut, cut, cut, that was the name of the game, he thought, in this new business model. It was like he was financing the whole operation, along with the students. This corporate model was like a huge vacuum cleaner as accumulation mounted for the masters of the celestial enterprise. They were the only ones on the way to heaven. It could not go on for too long before he had to get some pay out of this operation.
In the face of everything he trucked on. The next day morning classes would be dismissed for the Opening Ceremony for the academic year, except for the first hour. Since he had a morning class he went for a short truncated lecture. Part of it was warning the students to read. Read, read, read. All his admonitions were falling on barren soil which he knew would happen beforehand. No one read any more, much less students. The only thing these students could remember reading was messages on their cell phones. They never put them down. The class had already mushroomed to nearly ninety students. So-called. Not all of them were real students, of course. Some were there for other purposes. They worked in the casinos or avoided the military draft in Aslanistan. They laundered money for the casinos and other enterprises. Millions of dollars were flowing through the island completely off the record. It would be a blessing if most of them did not actually come to class, he figured. There were not actually enough seats in the lecture hall for all of them.
There was not enough time to take roll so he dismissed them. He would see them next week, he told them. Some of them, at least. He barely had time to rush to his office and put on the gown which he had been provided by the university with the MCU colors. It was made of thin, almost paper-like cloth. He had never seen one quite so flimsy like this before. It was amazing. On the outside of the plastic pack, he noticed the label, “Made in El Salvador.” One had to hand it to the business model. It was globalized and efficient.
Properly suited up in the dark red pseudo-gown, Jed made his way over to the auditorium. Names of the professors had been attached to the backs of the seats where they were to sit. He searched around and found his place. He settled down in the cushy seat bearing his name, ready to be entertained or more likely bored or pained by drivel from the officials. Mercifully, it happened only once a year. He talked to the small Russian professor who taught engineering courses and occupied the next seat. This professor stuck closely to the agenda and kept a low profile. He had been trained in the old Soviet system and knew how to deal with bureaucracy. As an American, there was a little more of the rebel left in Jed.
Eventually the auditorium filled up. Behind the rows of professors, the students gathered and chattered. A few people from the town drifted in who had been invited. Suddenly a young agile woman in tight-fitting pants and buxom blouse appeared at the podium. The chattering died down. Leaping up to the microphone, she began to read from a prepared announcement, in the local dialect, in a sharp, shrill voice. She seemed excited. Jesus Christ, her voice could cut right through steel like an acetylene torch, Jed thought. It was cutting right through his head and pinging off his ears. It was becoming faster, more energetic and sharper with each sentence. After each outburst in inordinately high decibels, she waited for the applause.” She was surely pumped up with something, Jed thought.
“And welcome to the opening ceremony of Midas Celestial University 2013-2014 academic year.” A long applause, cheers, whistles, shouts, followed before she went on to the next line.
After the speech in the vernacular, the announcement came in English, which was even more disgusting for Jed than the first. Hyping up the glorious future in such orgasmic fashion was raising horseshit to a new level. There must be some limit to the business model. Just what he did not know.
Most of what it meant for him was giving lectures to unwilling students, a sort of contemporary version of casting pearls before swine. At least casting something they did not want to hear. And sometimes they had not heard before. The whole thing was quite obscene. The shit was starting to get deep and was soon to get deeper. He wondered how long it would be before they went completely under.
The young woman announced the Rector, who would give his opening speech. He was not nearly as high-octane. He had too many miles on him. He had been through these deadly protocols hundreds of times. A poor pitiful creature who simply served as a figurehead for the university. A decent man called in to provide window dressing to the evil shenanigans that were going on behind the curtains. He had neither the power nor the money in his hands. He read out his prepared speech in the local dialect, mostly in a dead-pan manner, reeling off statistics, the parameters of the business enterprise in its present dispensation. Five campuses with three more on the way, the number of students, number of professors, number of faculties and departments, number of graduates, number of graduate majors, on and on. Number of countries represented in the student body. But not a word about money and where it was all going. All of this was to be undisclosed. It was corporate hype. This was simply his job. He was over the hill. Way over the hill. More window dressing. The young sharks stayed in the background.
His speech gradually ground to a well-deserved death and he shuttled back to his seat, drained of energy. The audience expressed their pleasure that he had finished by a hearty applause.
The flood gate of corporate hype was about to burst. The young woman sprang once again to the podium with a few bounding leaps. Her unstoppable young breasts pointing straight into the future. She announced the appearance of none other than the Chief Executive Officer of Midas Celestial University, Professor Doctor Vehap Yeter. So-called. His dark head appeared. Professor Doctor Vehap Yeter approached the podium with calculated gravity. He exuded an aura of power. He was, after all, the man who claimed to be the most influential person in Chaos. He was the man who held the purse strings and who called the shots. He ran the place. All the officials owed their jobs to him and they knew it. He was not a professor either but what the hell? He could not be faulted for lack of hubris.
He looked out at the vast audience. They were his. He began to speak slowly. Weighty nuggets of wisdom were certain to fall on the waiting plebs.
First a couple of lines in broken English, welcoming the foreign faculty. Then Professor Doctor Yeter settled down to speaking in the vernacular. The motto of the class of 2014 was pronounced. “The Year of Nature and Environment.” It was a phrase plagiarized from the internet. The corporation was not slow to pick up the trend of other business enterprises. They had caught the spirit of the age and launched a campaign of green-washing. This was certain to boost the image of the university and put it at the cutting edge of modernity.
A large poster was unveiled behind the chief with green, lots and lots of green. Below the letters: MIDAS CELESTIAL UNIVERSITY, a large eagle’s beak emerged from the center of the display, its head surrounded with various shaped green leaves. One large leaf shot straight up from the unsuspecting bird’s head. Others emerged from its neck. Other leaves pushed out from the sides. This leafy foliage appeared as feathers. Beyond the feathers were twigs of tangled wood. Blue, red and monarch butterflies fluttered around the head of the bird, the symbol of MCU.
Ted thought of those birds that kept a constant stream of bird-shit spurting onto his back terrace.
To the right of the figure appeared the words: “The Future of Our Nature.” “The Nature of Our Future.” To the left was the round seal of the university, bearing the figure of a two-headed eagle and below in large letters. “Welcome to Home of Eagles.”
These mottos had actually been cribbed from various sites on the internet but were now presented to the audience as original creations of the business model university and its visionary leaders. They were pioneers of a new age. Moses was leading his people to the promised land.
Vehap Bey launched into his speech about saving the earth and the environment on the island and all the contributions that the university was to make. Jed would have been happy if they could have simply saved the small area surrounding the university. Saving the planet might be a little hubristic until they could at least accomplish that, he reflected. But nothing could dampen this crusading spirit.
It is good to raise the consciousness of the students, Jed thought. But he wondered why they did not organize a work party to collect all the trash and bottles along the road leading up the hill to the university. A nature walk had been organized for the evening in a clean area outside the city, largely inhabited by British. It would not do to send the party through that field of rotting rubble which was typical of the island.
The speech was followed by an award-giving ceremony. Some members of the Chaosarian Parliament had been invited and were presented awards and bouquets of flowers. The political connection must be kept sound. This was followed by awards to members of the Board of Directors of MCU.
It all struck Jed as tacky and he felt a little sick in the pit of his stomach. They were all being bought off. And not too subtly. Could the audience get it? Was the university really a non-profit organization as claimed? What happened to all the money that flowed through the hands of the CEO? Of all of the things that were going on, some clearly seemed subject to court challenge if there had indeed been any legality. Was the university hiding behind the illegality of the country? The political connections of the CEO and other officers were surely solid. His alleged embezzlement of funds had been swept under the carpet some years before.
A reception followed the ceremony in the lounge. Fine wines were cheap and plentiful in Chaos. But the university was not about to go that route for a faculty reception. The choice was between different sorts of soft drinks. There were sweet biscuits and fried chicken kebabs. All terribly unhealthy for the new era which had just been ushered in by the wise and far-sighted leaders. Jed felt a little sick at his stomach after the ceremony and wished nothing more than to rush to his office and jettison the absurd gown. He would rather rip it off and liberate himself from this revolting idiocy. He hardly wished to be identified with such an institution.
Lingering on the periphery of the milling crowd, his old student, Vedat spied him. Jed was gnawing on one of the dry, rubbery, practically inedible, chicken kebabs.
“Well, I guess we are the black sheep now,” Vedat said. He was the only one who had complained about the pay and working conditions at the meeting.
“Oh, I don’t really care,” Jed said. “I hadn’t planned to say anything. I was just going to keep my mouth shut like the others. But then I thought that I should say what I thought and felt. If one cannot do that, then how can one call it a university? It just came out.”
Yes, how could one call it a university? He thought. He saw Vahap Bey surrounded by some professors not far away. He was chatting things up with them. Jed felt nauseous. He felt the urge to flee. He simply could not take any more of this. He quietly slipped out the door and to his office and ripped off the absurd academic gown. He had to take a rest before facing the afternoon.
Chapter Sixteen: Politics
Deniz university had not been free of politics either, Jed recalled. The dean was a political man and kept his eyes open for any opportunity to grab another piece of the political pie.
In the Spring, parliamentary elections were coming up in a few months. It was the third time the ruling party had gone before the voters, having increased their percent of the vote to almost half of the voters. The political parties had begun to campaign. Professor Odun, as was clear by this time to Jed, was really a politician at heart, rather than an academic. His method of operating was through political machinations, rather than honesty and integrity, as Jed would have expected from an academic. He was filling up his time while out of political office as a dean, in lieu of being a higher paid rector, which he considered his desert. His true heart’s desire was to be again elected to parliament if fate and the voters would be so generous. He might even become a minister again.
As a Dean in the university, of course, he could not become a candidate for office. This would require his resignation. According to the regulations, normally, his vacant position would have to be announced and candidates interviewed. Would the rules be bent in his favor to allow him to resign and become a candidate for the Parliament, while still keeping his office, in case he did not get elected? Jed watched this process as it went forward. Abdurrezzak Bey became a candidate, but lost in the election, and immediately resumed his position as dean. There had to be some arrangement made behind the scene for such an irregular, indeed illegal, process to take place. It had to be due to his political connections. The Higher Education Council (CRAP), whose job it was to oversee the regulations had obviously turned a blind eye. Or perhaps, they had even facilitated the process.
This was but one of the political machinations that Jed observed. Things were being done in an irregular manner and not according to the rules. Documents were phonied up and backdated. Corners were cut to make it possible to hire desired candidates who did not, in fact, meet the minimal requirements. In short, the dean’s office had been completely politicized to carry out the program of the dean, and to hell with the rules. Jed was not sure, but he found this interesting, given the dean’s boasting about his close relationship with the bureaucrats at the Higher Education Council who were supposed to enforce the rules.
Toward the end of the Fall Semester, in late morning, Jed observed the door to the room swinging open. There were now three faculty members who now occupied the so called office, each in a separate corner. Jed was in his corner, farthest from the door. He saw the dean’s fat belly bouncing in a straight bee-line toward his desk. Approaching him, Abdurrezzak Bey plopped a stack of papers down on his table and told him that he wanted an evaluation of them by five oclock that day. There was no explanation as to why, where the papers came from, who they came from and what the purpose of evaluating them was. Ted was surprised, but told him sure, he would do it. It was almost time for lunch. Hungry, Jed scimmed through the papers and saw that it was going to take some time and effort and that he would not really be able to do them justice in the time available. He would do his best. There were four published papers by the same individual. Since one was in Italian, that eliminated that one at once, since he could not read Italian. The others had been published in various obscure journals, or included in a book of such articles. He would have to try to do justice to the three.
He thought perhaps another university had asked the dean to evaluate them, and not really having the competence, he had pawned them off to have Jed do it for him. One thing for sure, academic integrity demanded that he evaluate them honestly and not pull any punches.
A quick scan of the papers revealed the common element that all of them had to do with religion and religious issues. Right away, Jed saw that this would put him in a bind. If he evaluated them honestly and criticized them, then he would be getting himself on the wrong side of the dean. In that, he could be relatively certain. To pussyfoot around and say they were great articles, when in fact, they were quite flawed, and not provide any competent critique, would be intellectually dishonest. Doing the right thing, the honest and moral thing was clearly risky in relation to his job. So it put him in a difficult bind. He could water down his comments, but in the end, he knew that he was going to have to be honest to live with his conscience.
Jed grabbed a quick lunch and turned his attention to the papers. This took his afternoon, and even so, he could not critique them deeply or thoroughly. There was a paper on Rawls, a paper on Arendt and one on Habermas. They all were treated as relevant to the religious issue, more particularly the idea of a post-secular age, in which there should be more tolerance of religion as an aspect of democracy.
Jed was not sure if he was to evaluate the ideas of the three thinkers, or the ideas of the writer. After going through the papers, he could see that the writer had largely just explicated the ideas of the thinkers in the papers, without adding much content of their own. In this sense, the papers were quite weak, in Jed’s view. As for the thinkers themselves, there were ways to critique them too, but perhaps that was not the object. What mainly struck him was that the writer, like many academics in the country, discussed the ideas without any real thesis of their own.
By the end of the afternoon, Jed wrote up his comments, not only on the author, but on the theses of Rawls, Arendt and Habermas. For Jed, Rawl’s idea of democratic pluralistic society was exaggerated and a myth. The neoliberal economic system in the US is not pluralistic, but nearly totalitarian, he wanted to argue. The system rewards capital and not labor. Even “liberal” had become a practically forbidden word in American politics. His analysis had little to do with the real world. So it was largely fantasy and there was almost no input from the author on this score.
When it came to Arendt, he found it absurd to argue the way she did that poverty is not a political question. He thought it would be far better to read Marx’s Grundrisse, if one wanted to understand capitalism. The author said that Arendt’s views were significant, but did not say why. So again there was almost no imput from the writer of the paper.
Habermas was writing about toleration and this was seen in relation to the wearing of the headscarf. For Jed, it was really a quite trivial point. Of course, for him, it made no difference if women wore the headscarf or not, but he thought that in some ways Habermas was being naive. Liberals and intellectuals like him could, of course be liberal and tolerant. But so much of religious revivalism today was just the opposite. Where was the tolerance in dogmatic reigion? The Taliban was ready to kill one because they did not wear a beard or was a Christian.
If one wanted to talk about human liberation, then surely Marx was right, that the point was freedom from the alienation which drove one to religion.
Jed did the best he could but probably went too far in trying to critique the ideas in the paper, rather than just the paper itself. There was really nothing there that showed input or origninal thinking from the author.
He gave his comments to the dean and left the university, thinking that his ass would soon be in a bind. He considered that it might even get him sacked, but all he could do was wait and see. He was not going to bow completely to the hidden agenda of Professor Odun.
The next day, he discovered what the papers were all about. A young graduate of a small university in Rome had applied for a job. It was clear that this applicant’s focus was on the so-called “post-secular” age. Jed thought this was a quite silly concept. For him, he didn’t think that there had really been a secular age, so how could one have a post-secular age. Surely, he thought the author had been chosen because of the focus on religion, something dear to the heart of Abdurrezzak Bey. Jed was asked to fill up a form evaluating the articles for points. A certain number of points were required, officially, in order for the applicant to be hired. This was something new and he had no idea how to do it. After struggling with it for a couple of days, another young faculty member helped him out. The points fell considerably below the official requirements. But in spite of this, Jed had no doubt that the dean had recruited the applicant because of the religious focus. Any shortcomings in merit could simply be fabricated, the same way he did everything else. Jed was not surprised when it was anounced that the applicant would be joining the faculty. Everything was being done by the dean behind the backs of the faculty just as he wanted to do it. A one-man show. The spirit of comradship or democracy was totally lacking.
To Jed, it was no big deal. He had long since given up the idea of working and teaching at an intellectual university that respected ideas. But the Dean was dead set on loading up the faculty with those who were doing religious studies. He had a clear agenda and it was not really hidden.
Chapter Seventeen: The Dissertation
Bulut Bey the director of the graduate school had left Midas Celestial University. Jed found out about it when Bulut Bey called him and asked him to come to his new university for lunch. They were old friends, having taught in the same university some twenty years before.
The new university, being opened by another business group on the island, mainly into casinos, was operating from a single building in Samos. Jed went with his wife for lunch, after spending the morning in his office. It was called Big Bird University and was also being run on the business model.
“I think there may be trouble now,” Bulut Bey said when they were eating lunch. “The CEO of MCU has been accused of plagiarizing his dissertation. I am mixed up in it since I was on his dissertation committee. Now the matter has been taken to the Aslanistanian higher education council CRAP but they will turn it over to FAKCRAP the local higher education council. The FAKCRAP officials would insist on handling it in Chaos. The Aslanistanians should leave it up to them, the way things are now.”
It turned out that the Rector and another senior member of Jed’s faculty had also been on the dissertation committee and signed off on the fake dissertation. Their ass was also on the line if it was proved that the dissertation had been copied. They would be exposed as intellectual idiots.
This was the first that Jed had heard about it. In a couple of days, it was all over campus. And it was reported on the internet, in several local newspapers. The copy of the report was also posted on the internet under the title: “Plagiarism and Methodological Invalidity Report for Mr. Vahap Yeter’s Thesis Entitled “The Business Model: The Case of Universities in Chaos.” A local newspaper had posted the report. It was not clear if they were behind exposing the fraud. About the same time, someone hacked into the website of the university.
The next day, Jed spoke to his old student, Vedat, who had told him about Vahap Bey before.
“It is going to be a big scandal for the university,” Vedat said. “It has been proved that he plagiarized. Even the professor in America that he copied from has confirmed that it was his work. Now there has to be an investigation.”
“That is amazing,” Jed said. “I can’t imagine how he thought that he could get by with that.”
“Oh, we will see,” Vedat said. “You know he was appointed as a Member of Parliament and stole four million dollars when he was there. Some say three, but it seems it was four. He has political connections. He can buy who he wants. How do you think he became the head of this place, with eleven thousand students? Just imagine the amount of money flowing through his hands and there is absolutely no accountability.”
“I wonder what will happen,” Jed said. “It seems like he has been caught red-handed.”
“If it is confirmed by FAKCRAP, then the university will not be able to award any PhD degrees for three years,” Vedat said. “Then those in graduate programs would really be screwed and they would likely sue the university. There is big money riding upon the decision. It can easily be swept under the carpet in this place and no one can do a thing about it. Besides, if Vahap Bey goes, then the Rector, Kamber Bey, should be kicked out too. Probably nothing will happen. He will win.”
Vedat had the report on his email.
“I downloaded the report,” Vedat said. “It might disappear at any time and I wanted to get a copy. I will send it to your email.”
In the evening, Jed read the report. It was competent and professional. A scholarly job. It was not disclosed who had done the report or possibly paid for having a professor evaluate the dissertation. The English in the report was flawless. After reading the report, Jed thought that surely Yeter’s goose was cooked. How could he possibly recover from such clear and damning evidence?
The report stated that there was compelling evidence that Vahap Bey had substantively plagiarized in his thesis. It was also said that his conclusions were invalid and that the author did not actually understand how to carry out the research. It was also said that Vahap Bey had clearly intended to plagiarize in the thesis. The work was so badly done that there was no possibility of salvaging it by revising it. Therefore, the report recommended that the doctorate degree awarded should be revoked. And it said that CRAP and FAKCRAP should take disciplinary action according to their rules for such a fraud on the part of a scholar.
The report cited the paper and its author from which Professor Yeter had copied part of the work. It also contained an email from the professor who had written the material, confirming that it was his work. “It is clear that he took the easy way out,” the professor had written.
Examples were given in the report, including cases where Vahap Bey had tried to fool the dissertation committee by falsely citing certain authors who had nothing to do with writing the material. It was all fake crap for sure. No doubt about that. More than fifty percent of the literature review had simply been copied, according to the report. The conclusions were wrong. Vahap Bey claimed that the data supported twelve of his fourteen hypotheses. But actually only two out of fourteen were supported.
Jed was amused by one of the conclusions, which was actually false according to the data. Vahap Bey concluded that university publications, contact with faculty, contacts with graduates of the university, and contact with students who attend the university have no significant relationship with student satisfaction. This was an erroneous conclusion. In fact, most of his conclusions were invalid, the report said.
If the results were valid, on the other hand, it would be solid ground for forgetting about having competent faculty members and publications.
That it was fake crap was clear to all who read the report. Whether FAKCRAP would come clean and say that it was fraudulent was another question. But looking at the implications, it was not likely, most thought.
Comments began to appear on the internet saying that if the university was to have any credibility, Vahap Bey and the Rector must either resign or be dismissed from their posts. Others noted that the reputation of the university had fallen to zero. On the other hand, its reputation was so low that it did not have so far to fall.
It was whispered about on campus. Faculty members were afraid that if they were caught with the report on their computers, that they would be fired. So most people kept quiet about it. Jed remembered that such things were not supposed to be discussed. He was disheartened by the gag clauses in the contract. If a faculty told anything about the university or about the working conditions to students or to anyone outside, they would be fired. Such phrases were outlawed in progressive countries, but not here. There was also a clause which stated that a faculty member would be fired if they brought up anything about the formation of a labor union or was involved in such activity. Jed had noted how primitive it was, but he had seen it in many contracts over the years. This was a part of the world where institutions wanted to look modern, but did not want to be subject to modern rules.
Some faculty members mentioned that only one copy of Vahap Bey’s dissertation had ever been placed in the library and now this copy had mysteriously disappeared. It was also said that the CEO had been sacked from another university in Chaos a couple of years before appearing at MCU. Clearly there was a conflict of interests because the individuals on Vahap Bey’s dissertation committee were working for him as CEO. If they had given him trouble in getting the doctorate, they would surely have been sacked. He had them in his pocket. Now it was the same again. If Yeter went down, he would surely take them with him. So they could say nothing.
Time went on and Jed waited to hear what was going to happen.
Three weeks later Vedat told him that it had all been swept under the carpet. An investigative committee was made up to look into the plagiarism charges. All three were officials from the university, working for Vahap Bey. Not surprisingly, they quickly came back and said everything was OK. On that basis, FAKCRAP accepted the evaluation and dismissed the case against Vahap Bey. Everything was to be forgotten. It would be business as usual.
What a farce, Jed thought. But then how could it be otherwise in a country where there was no law and order and no accountability.
Vahap Bey had managed to clean most of the information from the Internet, however, the report remained for some months. No matter, his position was apparently solid. Nothing could shake him.
Jed remembered Bulut Bey’s comments about the university. It turned out that he had been sacked from the university, so he did not go willingly. Certainly he wanted to leave. When he went on leave at the end of the academic year, as the director of the graduate school, Vahap Bey moved another person into his office. When Bulut Bey returned, he found his office occupied and the lock on the door had been changed.
“Vahap Bey is a psychopath,” Bulut Bey had told him. “I worked with him but when I brought new graduate students to the campus, he got jealous of me. He wanted to get all the credit for himself. Finally, when I went and asked him why someone else occupied my office, Vahap Bey had told him. ‘Bulut Bey, you are tired.’ I told him that I was not tired. Then I realized that he was going to sack me. He was waiting for me to resign, but I waited. If the university sacks you, they have to pay you two extra months of salary. So I said good, Bulut Bey, you have done it. I forced him to sack me and I got the pay.”
“That is crazy,” Jed said, “to have him running the university.”
“It was not so bad a few years ago,” Bulut said. “It was a pretty good place to work. But then Vahap Bey came with this business model. He was the one that started all the problems. He started this thing to keep people in their offices from nine to five just as if it was a fucking company, you know. This is not the way it works with academics. They have to have some time to do their work. They need to have a place to think and work. Then he started punishing the faculty. He got rid of all the older and competent faculty, because they could not make them put up with all his crap. A whole lot of people were sacked. They were replaced with young people, many of them just students, who did not yet have a PhD. They were scared. Vahap Bey could demand that they teach twenty-three hours of classes a semester and if they did not, just get them out. No one can do that. It will drive you crazy. No one can prepare that many courses in a semester. It will drive them berserk. Some people were like that. The only thing they could do was to just bring the book to class and read it to students. Or they would put whole paragraphs from the textbook on a power-point slide and flash it on the wall and read it. They could kill a class dead in a microsecond. That is why no one comes to class in this university. But Vahap Bey does not care. In the business model it is just a fucking time-punch system. Educational Taylorism. He is seeing how many fucking tons of steel these sons of bitches can load in a day and in a week. The son of a bitch just adds it up in fucking Euros and the hell with everything else. Do you think he gives a fuck about these dead-heads learning anything? You can see them walking around as if someone had taken a goddam shotgun and blown their fucking brains out. Vahap Bey has given them all lobotomies. That goes for the staff too. They are all blithering idiots.”
“Amazing,” Jed said. “Just wild.”
“This so-called Vice-President for academic affairs, this engineer over there, is also an idiot,” Bulut Bey said. “They want to turn the staff over. If they stay more than two years, then they may start to make demands on the system and complain. So they would just like to see them go, after that. They do not want to keep them. Of course, there are a few old dead-heads who have been here longer. They are dead wood. They no longer care about anything. They are just hanging on until retirement. They cannot go anywhere else. Not only that, anyone who writes and publishes is a threat to the university. They do not want to promote them, but keep them on the lower level as wage slaves. This is Taylorism, pure and simple. Slaving people and preventing them from ever having a single thought in their head. If they succeed in killing their spirit and brains, then they have them. If not, then they raise themselves up and get out. It is just like being fucking enlisted in the military service. The only thing that keeps one there is the fear of not having a job and income otherwise.”
Jed knew that the university was bad. He knew that the business model was not treating people like academics. The lament from Bulut Bey went into it a little deeper.
“Look, Jed,” Bulut Bey said. “I would like to rescue you from this university. From this slaving business model. It is not for a person like you. You can do some good and contribute to education where things are better. You should come and join us.”
“Sure,” Jed said. “It sounds like a good idea. I don’t think that I can stay in this university for very long. I am thinking that I do not want to be here any longer than this very semester.”
“Well, OK,” Bulut Bey said. “We want you to join us here.”
Chapter Eighteen: Rapt in Awe
The following quote from Albert Einstein appeared on one of the walls in Jed’s building, Einstein Complex.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. His eyes are closed.”
Jed’s eyes were not closed. They were wide open. But there were very few whom Jed came into contact with and observed on Midas Celestial University Campus who struck him as rapt in awe. Rapt in boredom, to be sure. Rapt in ignorance seemed to be a rampant condition. Sometimes he was rapt for hunger, for lack of any good food on the campus. In the library, he had felt quite rapt in intellectual starvation, given the range of books available. When lecturing in certain classes, he was often rapt in frustration in seeing the non-response of the students who could have cared less. When checking exams, he was often rapt in disappointment at the results. He was often rapt in anger when he thought about how the university treated people and overloaded them with work. Most of the students were pretty clearly rapt in confusion. The procedures of the place were obviously rapt in mismanagement. At the end of every month, he felt rapt in near bankruptcy before he collected his pay. To say that he was rapt in bureaucracy would be true, but an understatement. Lack of a private office and a computer rapt on his nerves quite strongly from time to time. Threatening emails from the wimpy dean which treated him in an insulting manner rapt on his peace of mind. All the bullshit on the campus, in general, rapt on his sense of integrity and honesty. But as far as being rapt in awe, individuals existing on this lofty plane seemed to him to be as scarce as hen’s teeth, as his father used to say.
On the other hand, there was a sense in which MCU had indeed set the stage for him to feel rapt in awe. The most awesome thing he had observed was the talent of the university officials to raise horseshit to a new level. When he opened his eyes and observed that, he was indeed rapt in awe, true enough.
The seal of the university, copied almost verbatim from the seal of a prominent country bore the motto “Discendo Vivimus.” It meant “We live through learning.” In fact, the university officials seemed to rather live through copying things from various internet websites. The motto was that of a university in California and so had apparently been cribbed from their website. The green-washing slogan “The Future of Our Nature, The Nature of Our Future,” seemed to be taken from the quote: “The nature of our future depends on the future of our nature.” Having been turned upside down, however, it made little sense in the MCU version.
On the wall at the entrance of the residence building where several faculty members lived appeared a large wall board with the following message: “In this house we are a family, Love each other, Be happy every day, Laugh a lot, Respect one another, Use kind words, Always tell the truth, Say please and thank you, Never give up, Keep your promise, Forgive even when it’s hard, Be Truthful Positive Grateful, Try to keep these house rules.”
This had been taken from a poster offered on eBay for $16.95. It was indeed awe inspiring to consider how few of these admonitions were observed in the operation of the university.
In his building the university had established an Albatross Simulation Center, an idea which could easily be found on the internet.
His building was located in Millennium Park, which was apparently taken from the name of a city square in Chicago. He taught in the Spectrum Building, which could also be found on the internet.
A new building was about to be opened which contained the Graduate School of Social Sciences, the Graduate School of Science and Technology, and the Faculty of Law. This was called “Freedom Complex.”
The rooms had impressive sounding names and left one rapt in awe, until one discovered that they could all easily be found on the internet. Patriot Hall was an American Legion building in Vienna, Virginia. Another building in South Carolina carried the same name. There was also a D-Day Hall. Vision Hall carried the same name as a church in England. Victory Hall was also a pub and restaurant in San Francisco. Independence Hall was there too, and is, of course located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There was another room named Peace Hall, which also exists in Windsor, England. There was also a Justice Hall. There are halls of Justice in many places.
A new dormitory for girls was about to open. It bore the creative name Elysium Court, which is also the name of an apartment complex in England. Above the door in large letters was the slogan: “Home away from Home.” The ubiquitous bird was there too, having presumably escaped from the university seal. It perched above the entrance to the building. With a bright red head and black tail it was looking quite exhausted. It too was almost as overworked as the staff, appearing on manifold places, doors, seals, slogans, and other places around the campus. Even on every university document. It often sported two heads.
The bird also appeared on the large building called “Food Republic.” The establishment was easily located on the internet in other places in the world. The bird stood proudly next to a display of the flags of 162 countries. Blazing across the front of the building were large pictures of food, just like on the Food Republic web site. Underneath were pictures of smiling students, presumably rapt in awe or perhaps fast food.
Across the front of the building names having to do with food appeared in many languages to suggest the international flavor of the restaurant. On the other hand, the fast-food selections inside were quite narrow and not terribly appetizing.
The overworked bird was apparently an incarnation of the bald eagle. As in the seal of a great country, it held items in its claws, a torch in its right claw and a scroll in its left. If the professors were devoid of knowledge, it would arrive, nevertheless, on the wings of the bird, just in time.
The plagiarism of names and symbols did not end there. The dome of the capital building of a powerful country also appeared on a large curved poster, apparently from a previous academic year. It appeared, discarded behind a trash dumpster behind Electro Park, where power cuts were not infrequent when the winter rains began in November.
Perhaps, Jed’s cynicism was uncalled for. Maybe he was not being fair to MCU with those thoughts that kept tormenting his brain. It could have just been a coincidence that all of these names and symbols appeared in other places. They could have been the original creations of the university officials. The large poster had urged residents to laugh a lot. That was a good idea. It seemed that the officials were making it easier. One could have indeed laughed, if it had not been so sad.
Chapter Nineteen: Mergers and Acquisitions
Jed recalled his problems at Deniz University when he first arrived. Since there were not enough offices for the whole staff, most would have to share rooms. As it turned out, the science and engineering faculty had most of the offices. Social science was lower ranked and the staff would have to share offices. It was suggested that partitions would be erected in the rooms for a little privacy but most did not see any point of it. Generally a classroom would be converted into an office and shared by three people. This was clearly a step down as Jed had always had his own office in other universities.
He cabbaged onto the desk on the farthest corner from the door, next to a big window, thinking that it might give the most privacy. A small bookshelf and cabinet was provided next to the desk. He placed his name on the top of the desk and a couple of books to prevent someone else from claiming the space. Who would he have for room mates? He figured that there would be at least two. Perhaps the worst fate would be to get two women who talked continuously, never allowing the possibility of concentrating upon his work.
This situation was somewhat of a nuissance, but Jed considered also that there might be a positive aspect. If there was no peace and quiet for work in his office, he could always use it as an excuse to not be there. Generally the small library was a quieter and a more pleasant place to sit down alone and think. And the students had little use for a library. They now cribbed everything from the internet. Another aspect was that most of the faculty spent as much time as they could down in the tea room, when they did not actually have to teach classes.
The other corner on the window side of the room would be occupied by Hatice Hanum. She was a middle aged associate professor who had come from a big university in the city. Exactly why, Jed did not know. Now in her fifties, she had developed a thick body and lost her looks. Ted saw her as friendly enough and welcome as a colleague, although it was clear that she was not an intellectual and he did not see her as a credible academic.
Jed’s world view and hers could not have been more different. Teaching business courses, she was crass and insensitive to the core. She shared none of Jed’s critical view of middle class society. She did not have a notion of a critical perspective on contemporary society. He could never take her seriously, just put up with her stupidity. That was what he thought. She was a climber, an opportunist, grovelling for whatever would get her further ahead. It was not really money that she was after, Jed saw. She already had a rich husband. He was a businessman. What she really needed was to become a professor and perhaps a dean or even a Rector of a university, if she could pull the right strings or make the right connections. As far as being an academic, she didn’t have the first notion of how to even form a paragraph of an academic article. Nor did she have the ideas and concepts from which to form it. There were many such as her in the pores of modern academia as the business model gained traction.
Jed settled down at his desk after lunch. Hatice settle down in front of her computer. Bringing something up on the screen, she suddenly let out a wild laugh.
“My son is crazy,” she said. “Zeki is coming next week from the US for two days. He is paying two thousand dollars for his apartment in San Francisco. And now he will have a job at M.I.T. Crazy! Crazy!”
“Jed, my son is a genius. He works on computers all the time. He has gotten so many offers. He has been offered thousands of dollars a month.”
It turned out that her son had been studying at UC Berkeley. She produced a picture of her son in cap and gown receiving his doctorate at the ceremony on campus. She could not get enough of dropping bombs about how much money he spent, how much money he made, what sort of genious he was and so on until Jed had had quite enough.
He also discovered something about her life style. She too made frequent trips to the US, she said, to see her dear genious son, and to shop. She loved shopping centers and shopping. She asked Jed about the shopping centers where he had lived in California.
“I don’t know,” Jed said. “When I was a graduate student there, we didn’t have any money, so we never went to them.” The truth was that Jed had a strong gut hatred for shopping centers.
He found out that Hatice Hanim was living in a hotel, the most upscale in the city. The Hilton Tower Hotel. “I don’t like to live in an apartment,” she said. “My son said, Mom, don’t rent an apartment. You should live in the Hilton Tower. My son is a genius. He is crazy.”
So it turned out that she lived in the Hilton Tower, paying half her salary every month to live there. It was part of a package deal. She stayed four days a week in the hotel, and took the plane back to the big city every Friday. Then back on Monday morning to arrive in the office in the afternoon.
“I go swimming every day. There is a weight room. My trainer makes me do exercises in the morning. I love shopping, Jed, I love shopping, I am crazy!”
“Jed. I want to show you my I-pad. Jed I have all my books on my I-pad. I have the Wall Street Journal and Time and the Herald Tribune. I have all the latest businesss books. Jed, you can download them free from a site. I will give it to you.”
She marched in quick-step to the side of his desk. Jed saw her chubby stomach and fat breasts bouncing as she approached his desk and tried to divert his attention from the spectacle. She stopped suddenly, aimed the pad at his face and clicked a picture of him. Appearing at his desk, she showed Jed his face on the screen, blown up to an obscene size. Jed was rather horrified. Why am I to be tortured like this? He thought.
She laughed. “Jed, you need an I-pad.” She said. “You can write things on the screen and show it to your students. I will show you. I have all my research books here.”
She opened a page. Ted saw little squares pop up, which were the covers of the books. All recent Wall Steet publications for Wall Street jocks. Nothing at all academic. He read: “How the Stock Market works.” “How to make a Million Dollars in the Stock Market in a Month.” “Managing for Power.” “The Power Lunch.” There were several more rows of such rot. Jed suddenly felt naseaus.
“I can read them right here,” Hatice croaked. She opened one of them. “Here, you can read it.”
No way, Jed thought.
It was the last thing Jed would have dreamed of doing, except in his worst night mare, or if he was being threatened to have his throat slit by the Taliban if he did not.
“I will give you the websites,” Jed. “You can download them.”
Right. Jed thought. It went on and on. Jed had wanted to use the time to look up some articles for background for a paper that he had in mind about the ongoing slaughter of thousands in Iraq by the US bombing. Instead, Hatice Hanim kept up the drivel. Students came in. Then she talked to them chattering unnecessarily. After a bit, Jed was tired and decided to bail out for the day. There was a limit to how much he could take of this game.
One day Hatice Hanim brought up the topic of her research. It was actually the research of others but she was piggybacking on their work by adding her name. She needed publications.
“Mergers and acquisitions. That’s my field,” she annouced.
“That’s a good topic,” Jed lied. He felt a little sick.
“Jed, our paper has just been accepted by a prestigious journal,” she lied. “It just needs some editing. Some touching up. I have printed it out. You can be a co-author if you like.”
Jed declined. It was a topic that he might work on at some point, although he had no immediate interest in it. But he would not approach it from a business perspective. It could be instructive if approached from a radical, perhaps Marxist perspective, he reflected.
“You could be a co-author and help us publish it and get a publication in the social science research index,” she said.
Jed got her drift. But he didn’t want his name on some shit-eating business screed.
“That’s OK,” he offered generously, “ I don’t mind to help you on the paper but its not really my subject. I wouldn’t ask you to include my name on it.”
“That’s great Jed,” she said. She pulled out the print of the article which she had concealed on a shelf below her desk. There was a stack of pages thicker than Jed had bargained for. She plopped it down in front of him. The lines were single spaced. Not an easy form to edit.
“This, Jed,” she said, indicating the beginning paragraph, “is a sort of introduction. Could you check the English?” The article had three authors. She was the third.
Jed focused on the paragraph, attempting to read through it. His eyes froze halfway through the first sentence. In the next sentence, his brain locked up too. He tried reading it through again a couple more times. It was garbled. Unintelligible. Crap. He thought about what they were probably trying to say. Even straightened out it would still be crap but nothing could be done about that.
“I think you should word it something like this,” he said. He then rewrote the whole sentence out at the top of the page. “Isn’t this what you mean?”
Hatice read it through slowly. It was straightforward and logical. Straightforward bullshit. Clearly appropriate for a business journal. It would likely hook in any editor.
“Yes, yes, that’s what we were trying to say,” she said. “I even understand it better now than before,” she lied.
Ted saw that he would have to practically rewrite the whole paper to edit it.
Reading through it, however, he saw that that would not solve the problem of the article. Leaving aside the fact that the whole approach was bullshit, no one could understand what the authors were trying to say, if anything. Editing could not solve that basic problem. There was no thesis. The authors were not saying anything. Just stringing material along, as many academics were prone to do. Who cared what sort of crap they dished out. Once the article appeared it added some more brownie points to their curriculum vita and that was the whole point of the exercise anyway. Academics had no intention of being accused of enlightening anyone in this day and age. Once the number of brownie points topped the magical number, they would be advanced a notch up the academic ladder to associate or full professor and get a bigger pay check and more prestige. Whatever they pronounced then would carry more weight, regardless of its veracity. Especially if it lacked any veracity, Jed thought. The cardinal rule of a successful and prestigious academic. Never let the truth spill out.
“OK, I better take it home and work on it in the evening.” Jed said.
“Jed, You’re great.” Hatice Hanim said.
No, just a fucking sucker, he thought. I should never have gotten myself into this and it is going to kill my evening as well. Several evenings. That along with the pain in the gut from trying to stomach such unadulterated business crap. So much for mergers and acquisitions, he thought.
Chapter Twenty: Richland
Jed remembered his feelings those first few weeks after returning from India years ago. He was still very much full of India. America seemed to offer a lot of promise for a young man. The sense of freedom and movement he had felt in Europe quickly wore off a few days after he landed back in Missouri. He quickly realized there was really nowhere to go back in a small town. To be sure, there was the possible sexual promise but he would have to get away from his home town for that.
He thought of a job, rather than to immerse himself into graduate school at once. He was not really ready for that at this stage. It seemed grueling. He thought that it was time to live a little, have an income and to try out life. Maybe sow some wild oats. So he took a trip down to the state university. Rather than be bored, maybe he would take a job teaching high school if something was available. He looked through the list of openings for high school teachers around the state. He still had his teaching certificate and so that might get him a job. He would give it a try. That was how he had gotten into his teaching career.
He wrote some letters and in a few days, he got a phone call from a high school principle of a school some one-hundred miles from his home town. It was for teaching science and math in a junior high in a small town called Richland. So he decided to go for it. At the end of the summer, only the dregs were left, those jobs that no one really wanted to take for one reason or another. Probably because they were the biggest classes with the dumbest students and the hardest to teach. This really meant the classes in which it was the hardest to control the students. But what the hell? It would be his first real paying job out of the university.
He still had his beard. So he set to work one morning, hastily chopping it off. He had to hack off the thick growth of whiskers which had grown there wildly for a couple of years and then drag the razor across the stubble until the hairs yielded. Gradually they were scraped away. It took some effort to clean out the weedy growth, which had served him well in the harsh climate of Punjab. This clear cutting of his facial forest left his face somewhat white and exposed. It would be obvious for some time that he had just gotten rid of a heavy beard.
The next step was to dig out one of his old ties and a find a decent looking shirt. He remembered the admonition from Henry David Thoreau to avoid all occupations which require new clothes. But what was a man to do? It was either go for it, or live at home and sponge on his parents in a state of boredom. He could not seriously entertain that proposition. It was time to get out in the world again and get a new life. After India, he felt culturally alienated in his own country. Reverse cultural shock. All these kids from local families who had never even left the state were in a sort of cocoon.
The next day Jed borrowed his father’s car and went for the interview in the high school. He felt rather strange driving that big car. He had been surprised to see it when his parents came down and picked him up at the airport. It was a big muscle car and not something that he would have expected his father to be driving. In fact, the purchase had been engineered by his younger brother who had just that year graduated from high school. There was no way that the family needed such a car, and so he was rather put out by it, since he had never even dreamed of having a car in high school. Well, maybe an old junker, which he had paid twenty dollars for, but not anything more than that. In any event, he could never succeed in getting the old piece of junk to run.
It was likely that his Peace Corps years had stood him in good stead. Just coming from abroad, he had some confidence. After finding the principal’s office, he met him, a clean cut small town man in his early forties, who looked cut out for the job. Of course, there was probably a reason that the job was still open that late in the summer. The classes he was to teach were the bottom of the barrel that no one really wanted, the grueling hours, with a room packed with young teenagers, with explosive hormones, and to settle down and make them use their brains. A mission impossible, to be sure, but he was rushing in like a fool.
He was young and full of energy and looked up to it. He was offered the job at once. Mr. Reamer led him down the antiseptic hall smelling of disinfectant and bug killer to a Spartan classroom where he was shown the text books he was to use. He had always liked books, but the way they had been modernized recently left something to be desired. It looked easy enough, absent the students. The trick, of course, was that one had to learn how to teach these students. That was the rub.
Flipping through the math book, he notice that he was not going to just teach the students how to add up numbers, subtract them, multiply and divide them, the old fashioned stuff. Now they would have to learn how to count and perform these operations using a binary number system, just zero and one. Of course, that was how a computer did it. But why fuck the student’s mind up with that? With numbers he had never seen and would never see as long as he lived. And if he did see them, well who would know what the fuck they meant? Were they getting them ready to write computer programs for a big company? Most of these kids would not make it.
He would take the job and look for an apartment.
He would need a car. It would not be big muscle car like the GTO, but something smaller and classic. Perhaps something with European flair. He had gotten away from America. He had in mind something like a Volkswagen. Any kind of car would be a luxury after his life in India. Anything that would move under its own power.
He went with his father to the closest big town. They went to the Volkswagen dealer out on the belt highway. The big strip where all the fast food places were located.
In the show room was a small yellow car, a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. It was a lovely and beautiful small car. He fell in love with it at once and wanted to buy it. The sticker on the window said 2700 dollars. It seemed like quite a lot of money to him. But, now he would have a job and could afford to make the payments on it.
So he bought it straight off the showroom floor. They would make it ready and he would pick it up in a couple of days.
He had his check from the Peace Corps, for two thousand dollars, but since he would need that to get an apartment and get started, he would have to buy the car on the installment plan. He would give them five hundred dollars down and the rest would be paid in installments, a hundred a month for a couple of years. Not a bad deal, he thought, and he would have a nice new toy to play with. And maybe he would pick up a couple of girls.
After a week, he came again with his father and picked up the car. Paying the taxes and insurance took another chunk out of his check.
Happy enough, he packed up in a few days and left for the small town, Richland, where he was to teach. He would need to find an apartment. Here his skills were extremely minimal and he had no idea about living in a place which might be considered respectable. His Peace Corps had robbed him of any such feelings. Probably he had never had them anyway.
So he drove out to the highway east of town and rented a place in a trailer park after he saw an ad for it in the local paper. The guy who owned the place lived in a house just next to the park. He was turning himself into trailer trash without even being conscious of what he was doing. His first own home in America, and marking himself out as white trash. He would be living beneath the level of almost all his students. He had traveled around the world to come back and settle in a small trailer house, a crummy cracker box on wheels, essentially. Any strong wind could send it sailing out across the field somewhere. It was a dumb decision, as dumb as taking the mission impossible job, but there were only two ways to learn it, the easy way and the hard way.
Nevertheless, it was not bad, he thought. He felt at home there. He liked the little place. He had no idea what a bad and a ratty place it actually was that he had chosen. He was about to start learning about America.
He bought some groceries and moved in. Especially he loved chocolate ice cream. He would never leave the store without that half gallon box of dark chocolate ice cream.
School started at the end of August. At entering into his first year of high school teaching, he had no idea what this would entail. It was certainly not anything that taking the quite useless education courses down at the state university prepared one for. Also the student teaching that he had to do for six weeks one summer, down in the big suburban school in St. Louis County, had not taught him very much that he needed to know to be a teacher. Or at least, very little, as he only had the class from time to time, with another teacher present.
The first week he learned a few things. His classes were going to be very large, nearly forty students in a class. He was getting the very basic classes, such as general math that was the very minimal that students had to take. The first week was one thing, meeting the students. Doing this for the entire year with the same students was something else. He would learn to swim. Sink or swim.
There were several things that one had to know to be a teacher in an American high school. First, that the students were basically being warehoused in the school to keep them off the streets. What they learned, how much they learned, was not of any terrible importance. One’s job was to discipline them. As one teacher had put it, “don’t let them fight, don’t let them fuck, and don’t let them jump out the windows.”
But he was not a disciplinarian. Far from it. He had no desire to discipline them, to be a policeman, to be their parents. They were at the age of rebellion and that is what American teenagers were expected to do. To rebel. His recent orientation had been to be friends with people and not to treat them according to the harsh social relations which prevail in America. So he was going to have a pretty hard time of it. This he realized.
He noticed some of the other teachers. They seemed to be totally immersed in the culture. Not only the culture of America but even in the culture of the high school. He felt extremely alienated from both.
It was all so far from the real world. There was a big world out there. He had just been around it and seen part of it, and here he was stuck in a very small place, where most of those that he came into contact to work with had never been out to see that larger world. He missed his old life in the Peace Corps and sometimes got out his old slides and looked at them and felt homesick for India.
There were some six hours a day of teaching. One big math class in the morning and one at the very last period of the day. By that time, students were waiting anxiously to get out of there. They did not want to study. Certainly did not want to exercise their brains. If they did homework, the papers would pile up and pile up and one could never grade all of them, or even look at all of them. What to do? He didn’t know and didn’t have a clue and didn’t know how he had gotten himself into such a pickle.
With such a huge class, how could one really teach it? How was one to teach it? Sometimes he would resort to turning it into a study hall to give them the time to do their homework. What was the point of basic mathematics, anyway? All the answers were there on a calculator anyway. Technology was way ahead of the curriculum.
Chapter Twenty-One: Felicity
After he took the job at the high school, when he was much younger, it only took only a few minutes for Jed to fall in love with Miss Farmer. Felicity Farmer. He loved her chocolate red-brown hair. Her freckles, her cute nose. Her reddish cheeks. Those moist juicy lips that looked so warm and delicious. Her body was perfect. She was small, not petite, but just cute all over. An angelic shape.
The first day he saw her, he wondered if she was a student. Then he saw that she was an English teacher. Then he had seen her in the teacher’s lounge talking to some other teachers and saw how cute she was, but he hadn’t really met her. He wanted to find out if she was attached to anybody. She sometimes ate at the teachers table during lunch. But he did not get a chance to talk to her.
One day he went to the teacher’s room during his period off. She was the only one there.
“Oh hi, I think your name is Felicity. I have not really met you.”
“Oh hi, Jed, yes, I know you. How are your classes?”
“Oh Jesus,” Jed thought. “She is such a doll.” He was looking at her lovely neck. Below, he caught a glimpse of the cleavage between her young fecund breasts inside her pink blouse. Her long lovely legs were exposed in dark hose. She wore a short denim skirt. He suddenly realized that he was drooling.
“Oh, well, I am just getting started,” Jed said. “I am trying to get the students to do some work, but the classes are so big. I have almost forty in the general math and they cannot even add and subtract. I have to learn everything. This is my first year.”
“Oh yes, we all have the same problem,” she said. “But some of your classes are the worst.”
“I have seventh and eighth graders too,” Jed said. “They are really hard to settle down in the class. I am really not used to it.”
“Well, you will get used to it,” felicity said. “Just hang in there and be strict. Don’t let them take advantage of you.”
She took a sip of her coffee. Jed wanted to touch her. He wanted to taste those soft warm pink lips.
When she got up to go, she dropped some of her papers. Jed rushed to help her pick them up. Her perfume was glorious. As she bent over, Jed couldn’t help seeing inside her blouse. Her young tanned fruits were cradled in the shallow cups of her pink transparent lace. When they stood up, she blushed, her delightful young face glowing.
“Thanks,” she said, “Sometimes I am clumsy like that.” Jed wanted to kiss her.
“Oh, that’s OK,” he said. “Let me know if you need any help. We are in this together.”
“Thanks,” she said, “the same here. I wish you good luck with your classes. You might need it.” She gave him a sympathetic and sweet smile.
“I am off to class,” she said. Jed felt a tickling in his loins.
“See you later,” he said. “Have a nice class.”
Drinking his coffee, he could not get those beautiful young peaches out of his mind. That image would be burned into his brain forever. It had made his day and more.
After a couple of weeks he got up enough courage to give her a call. The school encouraged the teachers to come to the football games. In October he asked her to go with him to the game in another small town. She could go with him in his small car on Friday evening. She took him up on the offer. He reminded her to dress warmly for the cool evening. He knew it was going to be heavenly with her.
He picked her up around six in the evening. She was gorgeous in her tight fitting outfit with long pants. Her perfume was subtle, but filled the air in the small car. They bounced out of town in his the foreign job. They felt every bump in the road with its tight suspension. He drove. They talked.
She told him about her university years. She had gone to a small, private school, in the city. He wondered how many boyfriends she had and if she went to bed with any of them. Surely she was not celibate with looks and a body like hers. She had majored in English literature.
“It was a small university,” she said, “in Kansas City. It was OK. I could come home often, but sometimes I wished that I had gone to a big state university.”
“Why is that?” Jed asked.
“Oh, there are more things to do in a big school,” she said. “And one can just blend in and be anonymous. Be a little wild. It is harder in a small school. I think I missed out on my chance to be wild.”
“Oh it is never too late,” Jed teased her.
“But now I’m a teacher, so I have to be careful,” she said.
“OK, but don’t be too careful,” Jed said. “One has to enjoy themselves sometimes.”
“What did you do in your university years?” she asked.
“I also missed my chance to be wild,” Jed said. “But for different reasons. Sure, I was at Missouri, but I was coming from a small town and a religious family. Because of that I was quite socially retarded, maybe backward. I didn’t know how to pick up a girl.”
“You should have done alright,” she said. “But like you say, it is never too late.”
“I hope not,” Jed said. They were starting to like each other.
“Tell me what you did in the Peace Corps,” she said.
“Oh sure,” he said. “But it is a long story. And I am still suffering from cultural shock.”
His story would have to wait for another time. They were about to reach the venue for the game. He had got to know her a little better on the way. It was refreshing being with a cute young woman. The hell with the game, he thought. He didn’t really give a shit who won. But it was fun going out with Felicity. He liked being with her in the cool fall evening.
He went to the refreshment stand and bought them hot coffee to warm them up. The cool was starting to bite on a frosty night. There was going to be frost for sure. Jed bought them hot dogs. He bought some of that peanut candy that he loved, but she refused it. He loved the sharp smells coming from the refreshment stand in the cool crisp air. Sitting next to Felicity, he felt his balls tingling from time to time. He wanted to touch the cute warm buxom doll at his side, but took it slowly.
Halfway through the game, she put her hands into his pockets when they were getting cold. He took them in his hands and put them under his coat to warm them. He put his arm around her. Her soft hand was resting on his leg dangerously close to where he had started to swell. She kept it there and looked into his eyes and smiled mischievously. He wanted to make love to her. Her wanted those warm lips, but only dared to give her a peck on the cheek at that point.
The game was almost over. The school team had lost miserably. “Let’s get out of here,” Miss Farmer, said. “I can’t bear any more of this.” A couple of players had fallen down on the field and had to be carried off. But apparently they were not badly injured. In spite of the excitement, Jed did not really care much for the violent game which was based upon brute force. Winning consisted mainly of having the mass and momentum to run right over anything that got in one’s way. High-speed bulldozing and collisions and head-cracking. Only imperialist countries like America or England would invent such violent games.
They stopped at a late-night restaurant on the way back. The cold air had made them hungry. He wanted a beer, but it wasn’t Europe. Most places didn’t serve beer in these small towns. They took their time and talked. Her face was nicely flushed from the cold. He told her some stories about his time in India. She found it very strange and exotic. She had only been outside the US to London and Paris during her university years. But his descriptions had whetted her appetite for more travel to exotic places.
They liked each other and were still not sleepy. Arriving back in Richland, he took her to her place. When she asked him to come in and have a glass of wine he didn’t hesitate. She put on some music leaving on only one dim light. She slipped away momentarily. When she returned, she was wearing a long thin shirt. He wondered what she was wearing underneath, if anything.
She settled down beside him, buckling her nicely shaped and tanned legs under her body. She looked into his eyes and took a drink of her wine. Her buxom young breasts were swollen under the thin fabric. Those beautiful young fruits that had stayed with him since that day she gave him a gorgeous view of them. They kissed. His lips pressed to her warm, pink lips, and he felt her tongue slip inside his mouth to taste his tongue. He kissed her harder. He pressed his hands to her warm body and felt her silky hair reddish brown falling on him. She was delicious.
She slipped her hand inside his shirt and felt the hair on his chest. He felt her fingers touching his small nipples. His lips had moved down to her long beautiful neck.
Jed quickly slipped out of his clothes. She slipped off her shirt offered her body. She lay back on her divan and they made love. Her firm young breasts were as delicious as he had imagined they would be. He felt his explosion coming.
He looked into the cute freckles of her face.
“You are delicious, honey,” she said. “A delicious man, Jed. You do it so good.”
He started to realize what those two years in India had deprived him of. That male chastity belt that it had clamped on him. This was surely the meaning of human liberation, or close to it.
“You are pretty nice too,” he stated the obvious.
They drank more wine.
“It is getting late. I guess I should be going,” he said after some time.
“Don’t go,” she said, embracing his still nude body. “I don’t want to feel lonesome tonight. You can stay with me.”
They had another glass of wine before she showed him to her big bed. She snuggled beside him. He slept as usual, in the nude. She kissed and toyed with him. He felt her fingers on his body as he became aroused again.
He kissed her. He suddenly wanted her again. She would let him have his way. He sucked her sweet lips and stirred her soft sweet candy gently, then with pounding passion.
The warmth of her orgasm spread through her body. She took him down a second time. His erection ebbed away. He was finally spent.
He couldn’t believe that he was waking up next to her. That beautiful baby. So heavenly. He felt her warmth next to him.
He felt his erection coming. She snoozed in the cool October morning.
Jed was like an old cow who had tasted sweet corn. He couldn’t stay out of the patch. He was again hungry for more.
Her legs were warm and delicious. He touched her early morning warm body. He moved his hand down to her bush. There was a lot of hair. He liked a bushy woman. He gently touched her. She was willing. He comforted her gently.
She opened her eyes and kissed him. This lovely early morning wake up call, the best kind, he thought. What would it be like to have her every morning. How long would it take for it to grow old? Forever, it seemed to him. To have her in his bed, a sweet young wife every morning. It was tempting. She was so cute. A doll. But he was not ready for that. She too had an alibi if he should ask for her.
They played for another half hour and then made some breakfast. It had been a hell of a date. Now he was in love or lust or something along that line.
Nevertheless, he remembered that he had a stack of fucking papers that he had to grade before Monday. Life could not be all fun and games.
They avoided each other in school. But they had decided to meet from time to time as friends.
One day Jed asked her to go with him on the weekend up to the old farm. The fall weather was still in Indian summer mode. He wanted to show her the old place. He had thought of making love to her in the warm sunshine on the hill above the old windmill. He yearned to have her in the open air naturally. They would drive up on Friday, explore around on Saturday and be back on Sunday.
He slept upstairs in his old room. She slept in the old room of his sister but later he slipped into her room to snuggle up with her and they made love. It was so nice having her there and he was explosive when his climax came.
The next day they took food with them and walked around the farm. It was late morning. They sat down on the hill above the old windmill. The ripe corn in the field had turned brown. The weeds around the hillsides were strongly aromatic, giving off the smells Jed had loved as a child. The leaves had fallen to make a bed of dry leaves. It was a clear bright fall day.
He took her in his arms and kissed her. He slipped his hands inside her shirt and touched her warm breasts. When he slipped his clothes off he was aroused.
Then she too slipped her clothes off. He helped, peeling her thin panties off and tossing them aside. He let her lay back on the thick bed of dry leaves.
It had been his fantasy for a long time to have her there on that sunny old hillside.
They walked on in the woods. They stopped near the old water hole to eat their lunch. Then they walked back to the railroad. A long freight train came roaring through. Down on the river bed, there was a big bank of white sand. It was warm in the sun. A small cloud came over and began to spit out big drops of rain while the sun was still shining.
Jed felt the urge to slip out of his clothes again. He stood on the white bar of sand in the nude. She enjoyed seeing him that way.
“You naughty boy.” When felicity stripped down, she bent over a tree that had washed up to the spot. The large drops of cool rain pelted down on her delicious young body as he made love to her.
He asked her to lie back on the soft warm sand.
“You are delicious, Jed, my delicious man.”
“And you are Felicity, my Felicity.”
They held each other on the warm white sand bar. She was so beautiful.
Chapter Twenty-Two: Marketing
It was the age of marketing. Professor Singer had to hand it to the officials at Midas Celestial University. Vahap Bey might face a challenge in writing a doctoral dissertation, but when it came to marketing education, he didn’t miss a beat. Who can argue with that kind of success?
The global economy, now guided by the new gospel of neoliberalism was all about creating markets. And countries and institutions had to find a niche in that market. Vahap Bey and the officials at Midas Celestial University had found their niche. It was a seller’s market for dummies, although not all who came were dummies to be sure. Some just cabbaged onto a way to get out of their country and get a chance to make it to Europe or America.
It was mass marketing. MCU was the McDonald’s of education, an up and coming trend as sensed by the sharks that ran the institution. Fast food, fast education. Standardized ingredients. Making sausage. Innovative techniques. Fly em in. Get em a degree and fly em out. Just make if fast and easy. A no-pain brainless way of getting ahead in the world. It would have been a good slogan, Jed thought. “The no-pain, brainless way.”
Both the buyers and the sellers would be happy in this selling of academic Big Macs.
The big sign above the road leading to MCU was the equivalent of the Golden Arches. McDonald’s emblazoned on its signs how many hamburgers they had sold. MCU crowed about the numbers of campuses and students. Eleven thousand presently, soon to be expanded another five thousand. The age of mass marketing and McDegrees had arrived.
Educational packages were developed. Happy meals of educational achievement. Marketing techniques were being groomed and honed to the different categories of customers.
In the old days, the niche in the market for universities on the island was for students from Aslanistan who could not make high enough marks on the entrance examinations to secure a place in their country. It had worked for some years, but the model ran out of steam when business enterprises, mainly holding companies in Aslanistan, began to jump into the educational business in the private sector. Before long, there were more universities than students and it was a buyer’s market. New private universities on the business model in Aslanistan were begging and crying for students. Youth did not need to go to Chaos to find a place in the university. So most stayed home in their own country.
Chaos was forced to expand the market farther afield. After all, except for tourism, which was quite small, it was the only other flourishing enterprise in Chaos. The schools had to look to other countries. The most successful turned out to be Nigeria, and some other African countries to a lesser extent. The sky was the limit, or perhaps the African coastline.
There were also countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and other Turkic republics.
Marketing techniques had to be honed. Scholarships were a useful hook. Give, or at least claim to give, all students a scholarship while drastically cutting the cost of production. Specialize in cost cutting measures, with a high volume of customer turnover. Fees would be kept low for tuition. Profits could be generated on the peripherals, such as food, housing, and photocopying.
Officials discovered bait and switched techniques. The students would be quoted the fee for the year, such as four thousand Euros. When they arrived on campus, they would be told that the fee was not per year, but for a semester. Students had already signed a contract agreeing not to leave the school until they obtained a degree. In some cases, this might take up to eight years of more, depending upon many things. If they did leave before completing the degree, they were told that they would have to pay some twenty-thousand Euros to the school. All these details were buried deep in fine print only to surface later. This seemed to Jed to be a sort of racketeering. But there was practically no legal remedy to anything in Chaos. Most certainly not for a student.
If a student wanted to stay and do a master’s degree, it was an easy task to complete the thesis in one semester. But students complained that the university required that they enroll for at least two semesters while writing the thesis.
If their grades were not high enough, they lost their scholarship and had to pay more money. On the other hand, they could not leave the institution. They were trapped.
And then there were the exams. They were allowed to take graduation make-up exams up to seven times. But each time, they must pay another fifty Euro fee. No student could be admitted to take regular exams without a printed and stamped card verifying that they had paid their fees. It went on and on.
The instructors experienced the same bait and switch marketing tactics. They would be promised an apartment and shown the attractive pictures and facilities. But when they arrived, they would be put in a different place, a sort of holiday village that would be completely inappropriate and freezing in the winter. They expected to be enrolled for their retirement pension by the university. But nothing was paid if they were over sixty-five and the younger staff were being paid only half of what they should legally be getting. It turned out that the university was using a fake exchange rate for half the promised salary.
The staff members were crowded together into offices. Not given computers. Required to provide their own computers if they used power point in their lectures. They were required to be in their offices from nine to five. They were not given the opportunity to go to academic conferences to meet other academics for self- improvement. They were not allowed to leave the island without permission from the university authorities, even on a holiday. They were overloaded with at least a double load, and sometimes more. When mid-term and final exams came around, they were required to monitor twelve of more exams during the week. It didn’t matter whether one was an instructor or full professor. The invigilation load was the same for all.
Jed had read the contract and wondered how anyone could actually sign such a document, but he had signed it of course. To avoid paying them compensation if they were fired or if they resigned before the end of the contract, the document covered only nine and a half months. This too saved money. Then there were the gag clauses. They would be fired if they told anyone about the working conditions or conditions of pay in the university. These items would be illegal in most countries of the world. And then the employee was told that he or she would be fired if they mentioned anything about labor organizing for higher pay. It was primitive stuff that made him groan. And if one resigned in the middle of the semester, they would have to compensate the university all the pay for a full semester. It seemed more of a threat than anything. If the employee left the country, the country, being officially illegal, they would not be able to do anything. Would they go so far as to detain one at the airport?
If one was not paid the promised amount, there would be no recourse to the courts in an illegal country. Clearly this was happening, as MCU was using a fake rate for the Euro to further cut the cost of production of their MCU McDegrees. This was just another way of cheating the staff, he thought.
Like all schools, they urged instructors to publish, but had obviously set up conditions which made it impossible to do so. And since one could not be sent to conferences, one would have difficulty getting feedback on the papers which they wrote.
While little was required of the students, except keeping their accounts paid up, it was different for the instructors. The university only cared if they stayed in their classrooms for the full three hours of teaching. It didn’t matter whether the students were there or not. It didn’t matter whether anything was being taught or if the students were learning anything. One received no appreciation 0r credit for publishing.
In fact, the university seemed to encourage a rapid turn-over of the staff, having mostly young ones under thirty. The rationale seemed to be that if they stayed longer, they would start to get restless and start to make demands on the university. This would encourage others to make demands. The best thing would be up and out and bring in a neophyte to replace them. A new employee would be afraid of losing his or her job.
Such a situation seemed geared to keeping the staff morale at rock bottom. If that was the case, it was highly effective. Jed wondered why they were using management techniques that went against all the principles of organizational behavior that were being taught in universities. It was certainly not to raise the morale of the staff. Like they say about making sausage, Jed thought. It is not pretty to see how it is actually done.
The sweat shop model had been brought to education, clearly. This was busting asses until they sometimes flew off the handle and went berserk and would revolt and get out sometimes right in the middle of the semester. They said the hell with the threats of fines in the contract. That was probably illegal, anyway. But then what was legal? Indeed, what was legal or illegal in an illegal country? The concept of legality perhaps had no meaning.
Trying at any remedy would be twisting at windmills. One would be drawn and quartered and left twisting in the wind. The poor son of a bitch Chaosarians were caught in this conundrum and being sucked down, ever down, in the maelstrom. If their degrees were from Chaosarian institutions, and they advanced to associate professor in Chaosarain institutions, their achievements would not be recognized elsewhere. They were cooked, good and cooked, and had to stay right there, regardless of how dim the prospects were for the future.
Ironically, they were becoming more nationalistic toward Chaos by the minute. On the other hand, the great majority had already given up on the place and fled to greener pastures in other countries. The UK, Canada and America were popular places.
The students too complained bitterly that the university only cared about the bottom line. They only cared about making money. They were marketing degrees and that was all. In spite of all the corporate type business hype around the university and on the flashy internet pages, the truth came through. They were not being fooled. Their morale too, for the most part was low. They were just counting the days until they could get out. They felt trapped.
Midas Celestial University claimed on its website that its mission was to prepare students for the corporate world. But even the corporate world, Jed reflected, had learned that they benefited when they treated their employees in a more humane manner. They set up flexible work hours. They provided benefits and positive incentives. There was nothing like this at MCU. They were doing everything upside down if one went by the textbook.
Why should they care? Jed thought. It is the business model and it is growing and thriving. How can one argue with success? The bottom line settles everything.
Chapter Twenty-Three: The Consultation
She sent him a note and said she wanted to see him about how her son Dan was doing in the class at Richland High School. She asked if Mr. Singer, the teacher could meet her at home and talk to her. She included her phone number. Jed called her and agreed. He checked the record of her son, Dan Anderson, and saw that he was doing just fine in the class. In fact one of the best students.
I wonder why she wants to talk to me so much, he thought. But he would do what she asked this time and meet her. How about on Wednesday afternoon, he had said. He could leave school a little early. Dan would be in football practice.
She said that would be perfect.
After the sixth period, Jed bailed from the school. Next to his small sports car, he slipped out of his shirt and tie and into his T-shirt. He quickly jettisoned his slacks in the bathroom and slipped into comfortable jeans and sandals. He was afraid that he would look more like a student than a teacher like that, but he wanted to be relaxed.
He found the house, which was in a rather fashionable neighborhood. He rang and she met him at the door.
“Hi. I’m Doris,” she said. “And you are Mr. Singer?”
“Jed,” he said. “You can call me Jed.”
“Yes, Jed. Come in.”
She was hardly the typical housewife that he had expected. In her mid-forties, she was still an attractive woman. She had a young-looking face, small cute nose, and wore a low cut top that revealed a lovely cleavage. She was in a short, tight, denim skirt. Her breasts were well developed and still nice and firm. Her dark brown hair was done up on her head.
She took him downstairs to a comfortable sitting room. Big glass doors fronted onto a pool that was still filled with water.
“It is too late to swim, but we have not yet taken care of the pool,” she said. “But you are welcome to try, if you like it cool.” She sat down near him. Her short skirt revealed the bare flesh of her long tanned legs.
She must use the pool a lot, Jed thought. She is quite nice. It is good that I came over to meet her.
She made small talk, asking him about himself, where he was from and where he had gone to school. He said he had just come back from two years in the Peace Corps in India. Everything seemed to impress her. She talked a little about herself and her husband.
“And so how is Dan doing in your class?” she asked. “Oh, he is doing just fine, Jed said. He gave her the copy of the report of Dan’s grades that he had brought.
“He is a fine young man,” Jed said to please her. “But he is still a little shy. You should encourage him to talk more in class. He understands more than he lets on. He will do well at the university.”
That stupid fart, he thought. I would like to kick his dumb little ass.
“Oh yes, Dan is that way,” she said. “I try to encourage him, but he is reluctant. But I think getting on the football team will give him more confidence in himself.”
“Sure,” Jed said. He could have cared less about the little prick. That was likely to turn him into an even bigger prick.
She suddenly dropped the subject of her son.
“Oh Jed, I almost forgot to ask,” she lied. “Would you like a glass of wine?”
“Red or white?” she asked.
“It doesn’t really matter, but I like white best,” he said.
“Oh sure, me too. I know what you will like. I have some fruity Zinfandel. Full of sparkling flavor.”
Like you, Jed thought. I would like to try your flavor, he wanted to say. Was she worth the risk? Her husband might beat the shit out of him. America was a violent country.
She produced a generous serving in an elegant wine glass. She had brought another for herself. After taking a couple of sips, she excused herself.
“Be right back, honey,” she said.
Jed worked on the wine. She was right. It was delicious California shit. He took a long sweet drought and felt it cooling down into his thankful gut. This is great, he thought. Enjoy it while I can.
She returned in five minutes in something more comfortable. Much more comfortable, it seemed. She had gotten rid of her skirt and top for a single dark denim shirt. It dangled open, except for a couple of buttons near the center.
She sat down across from Jed. He was looking right onto her lovely exposed cleavage in the loose shirt.
He could see her legs up past her hips. She could not be wearing anything underneath, he thought. He was suddenly aroused. His balls began to tickle. He took another took on the California ambrosia. Was this consultation going to slide down into a little californication?
She glanced at his glass, which was now depleted. He needed another drink.
“You’re dry. Oh let me get you some more wine.”
Unlike you, he hoped. He hoped she was not dry inside that revealing top.
As she rushed up Jed saw her exposed lovely hip. Sure as shit! She was nude underneath. She returned with a full glass of the chilled fruit of the vine. She crossed her lovely legs. She was wearing heels. Jed could see her lovely legs all the way up to her derriere as her dark denim parted. He was quickly sinking into a state of advanced drooling.
“Jed, this town is very boring,” she announced. It would not have been news to many.
“I wonder what a young man like you does for fun. I wish I could help you find things to do while you are getting settled. What sort of things would you like to get into?”
You, for one, Jed thought.
“Well, I have been pretty busy with the school work,” He lied. “You would not imagine how much time it takes.”
“Oh, but you need more than that,” she said. “A young man needs some excitement in his life. Even sowing some wild oats. It is not too easy around here. Do you mind if I smoke?”
When she bent over for the lighter, Jed had a great exposure of her substantial mature mangoes, like weighty bunches of ripe grapes hanging deliciously inside her shirt. She remained momentarily in the pose as his eyes confirmed what he was in fact seeing. He felt the saliva in his mouth. She was enticing him, pulling him in. He took another sip of the wine, feeling guilty.
She offered him a smoke, but he declined. She lit up, took a drawl and exhaled.
“Don’t mind me. I am a little flighty, sometimes. A little crazy. I just like being myself. I don’t care what anybody thinks. Too bad we can’t swim now. I love that pool in the summertime. Would you like to eat something?”
Yeah, I sure as hell would, Jed thought, thinking of her ripe taut fruits.
She had opened another button of her shirt when Jed was not looking.
“Maybe it’s different for you, but sometimes I get bored,” she said. “One has to go into the city to have any fun around here. I like to swim a lot, when it is hot. But the winters are just too long here. I wish it was Florida. It’s hot, but I love the heat if I can swim.”
She got up and returned with a bowl of cashews.
“That would be great,” Jed said. “But one has to go where the jobs are. It is already getting cool here at nights.”
“Yes, that’s a bitch,” she said. “Are you thinking to get a job somewhere else?”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind.” Jed said. “I just landed here as this is my home state. We will see.”
She gave him a curious look. There was more that he wanted to see. More of her.
Putting her cigarette in the tray, she opened the last button on her shirt, letting her shirt fall open, showing him her nude body. She picked up her cigarette and took another puff as he drank in the vision of her nude body. The triangle of dark hair between her lovely legs.
Jesus fucking Christ, he thought. She is sure as shit going for me.
“Some men say my body is not so bad for my age,” she said. “What do you think?”
“I agree,” Jed said. “Your body is not so bad for your age. It wouldn’t be bad for any age. You look great.”
“Am I worth an A in your class, Jed?” She teased him.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I would give you an A plus. I wouldn’t even have to think about it.”
He thought about it.
“You darling,” she said, “You are a lovely young man.”
She stood up, letting her shirt slip away. She brought her nude body closer and kissed his lips, settling down on his lap. Jed felt her hands slipping his t-shirt off. He touched her hips. They were warm soft velvet. She knew how to use her hands. She quickly opened his belt with her long slim fingers. He felt her hands slip into his pants. She pressed closer to him. His lips touched her warm body.
As he slipped out of his pants, she lay back on the thick carpet on the floor of the den waiting for him to make love to her. For the time being, he was where he wanted to be.
“You are good, Jed,” she said, “so good. I knew you were going to do it.”
Jed wondered how she knew that, since the information had apparently been withheld from him.
He was sure he could not hold out very long before she took him down in her pink paradise.
She loved men, especially young men.
You fill me up so nicely, honey.”
Her orgasm spread through her body. Jed felt his explosion coming. Human liberation. He stayed as long as he could then rolled off.
She reached for her cigarettes and lit up.
“That was wonderful,” she said. “You are so good. If you can teach as good as you can fuck, you should be teacher of the year, or maybe decade.” She kissed his lips. “You big prick. What would your students think if they could see you mauling me? You are delicious.”
“John used to screw me like that when we first met. Well, maybe not quite so good. But it was fine. But not anymore. Now I look for young men. I like young men. Young studs like you. Young and wild. Otherwise, life is just too boring. I am glad we met. I am not a nympho-manic, but I want a hard young man. What you give me is priceless.” She played with him.
Jed wondered what the price of her breasts would be. They were true beauties of nature. I should have been an economist, he thought.
She was about to get him aroused again.
“You have beautiful breasts, Doris,” he stated the obvious. “They are so nice. Priceless, he added quickly.”
“I don’t know about that,” she said. “But this is.”
She gripped his tool again. It was starting to harden again.
She glanced at the clock. It was disappointing.
“Oh, the time is coming, honey,” she said. “You should be going. Dan will be coming before long and it would not be good for you to be here. And John will come too.” “But not like you,” she added.
“Sure, that would not be good,” Jed agreed. “What the fuck was he doing here, anyway? Mauling the shit out of one of his student’s mothers. What would Mr. Reamer think, that prick of a principal? He would lose the job for sure.
He grabbed his jeans and T-shirt. He was still a little buzzed with the wine.
Doris slipped her shirt back on.
“Look, honey, why don’t we continue this consultation next week,” she said. “If you could come at the same time, I can have the wine cold for you.”
And the pussy hot, he thought.
“We just got started. I am sure that there is a lot more that we have to discuss.”
Jed knew that he was sinking. Being pulled down. In a way, he didn’t mind. But where would it lead. Where was the bottom? Fuck it, he thought. One does not get that kind of woman handed to him on a silver platter every day. One had to get it while they can. Life is too short to turn down such rare opportunities. One needs some wisdom even in youth.
“Sure,” Jed said. “I will see you next week. Maybe I can come a little earlier, if I can get that asshole Reamer off my ass.”
She sent him off with a cute little kiss as she pressed his half-swollen tool in her hand.
Chapter Twenty-Four: Tourism 101
Classes at Midas Celestial University had begun. By the second week a portion of the students showed up in class. It was more out of curiosity than anything else at this stage. They wanted to see what the professor looked like and if he or she was going to make them do any work. If the instructor seemed serious, some of them would bail out at the earliest opportunity. They had not come to drink from the Pierian Spring. Little droughts might intoxicate the mind, but most of them were not going to drink any deeper than was absolutely necessary to pass the class. A little learning might be a dangerous thing, but they didn’t care as long as it was enough to get them through the class.
Jed thought that he was lucky that his class load was limited to only four classes. Some teachers were saddled with six. It was not a burden as he had taught the material before many times. But when he went to the registrar’s office to get into the system and get his class lists, he discovered that he was actually teaching seven classes. They had simply bunched two or three classes into one. The class sizes were quite unwieldy in some cases, but the good thing was that they did not all come at once.
Most of the students had a disinterested look on their faces. It was like, please, sir, don’t bother me with knowledge. Just entertain me, tell me some jokes and let me go. A good portion of them understood little of what was going on due to language problems.
The intro class was the most fun. He could play around. He had his own textbook. As much as possible, he would use his own materials. He was tired of shit-eating textbooks which he could not agree with. They always had an ideological bias to the right.
The first thing was to establish a rapport with the students. He had to show them that he was not God dispensing god-like authoritative wisdom. This was different from what most were used to, at least those from Myopia. So it was rather confusing to them at first to have a professor who was actually down to earth and friendly.
For the most part, the students just wanted to be told what they had to know to pass the exams, the questions and the answers. But they did not need to know this now. The week before the exam would do fine. That was the system. For the first six weeks, they were just on tour.
Tourism 101. That’s what Jed called it. At the beginning of the class, he would look around the big lecture hall that held eighty students. Many were sitting without books, without paper, even without pen or pencil. He would ask them what they were doing here? Did you come for a tour? Is this tourism 101? Like a tourist, they would just be along for the ride, sit and look out the windows and watch the scenery, and that’s all. They had no need to take notes. There was no need to copy anything from the board.
They were used to using their fingers to be sure, but not for writing notes in class. They sent text messages. In class, out of class, all the time. If it came to it, they would just aim their cell phone at the board and take a picture, rather than copy anything down or take notes. Their participation was the same as if they had been watching TV. It was just a show.
Part of it, perhaps came from the power-point, Twitter generation. They could watch the slides and then get a copy of them and memorize something from them. In many classes these slides were the only text.
Jed had already decided not to use power-point. In the first place, there was the problem with the projectors, and having to use his own computer. Getting it set up killed too much of the class time. But besides that, it was just too cut and dried. It was boring, having it all prepared in neat little sentences. He liked to talk and be spontaneous. He liked to get a little crazy from time to time.
It would take a while before some of them would start getting it. It was clear that the brightest students in the class were the Nigerians. This was mostly because they understood more English. But also, it seemed to Jed, they did not expect the instructor to give them set answers to memorize and that was it. They could also think about the concepts and ask questions. And sometimes they gave their own opinions. Generally a Aslanistanian would not dare to do this, unless he asked permission first.
Mentally, the Aslanistanians had been intellectually crushed by the educational system. They were afraid to think and afraid to give their own opinion. This was because they had been punished for giving their own ideas and this shaped their mentality. It was not going to be possible to break them of this habit. On the other hand, he sometimes got interesting questions from the Nigerians who clearly were thinking about the issues.
A few Russian students showed up. Rarely a serious student. They had come to work in the casinos for the most part.
He would make jokes, but generally they would fall on deaf ears, with only the Nigerians understanding them.
If it was not in the book, then they did not need to know it. That was the attitude. Jed told them that he would mention things that were not in the textbook, which was his textbook, after all. Why does it have to be in the book? We are talking about things that happen every day.
At some point, he would tell them about the mushroom syndrome. About the old cow who discovered how they make hamburger. About the two most common elements in the universe. About what Mark Twain said. What Utah Phillips said. And many others. Some of them did not know when it was a joke and when to take it seriously.
Except for a few, the students followed one cardinal rule. Never read anything. At least not before the week before the exam. Some would wait until the last night. This was ingrained in the student culture of the university.
Jed discovered that even though some were third or fourth year students, they had never heard of the major figures in politics and economics. Some may have heard of Aristotle and Plato, but not Adam Smith, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, or Rousseau. Had they heard of Karl Marx? Those who knew the name knew essentially nothing about his ideas. He was just an evil man. In some sense, it was tough going.
How was he to get it into their heads when everything they had been taught had been upside down. When they believed that Plato liked democracy and that Marx was the opposite. Even though he pounded it into their heads and drew it on the board, most of them would still get it backwards. Of course, many of those were not attending class. There were not enough seats in the class for the more than eighty students.
When it came time for the exams and they had not read the material, how were they going to pass the exams. Some of them tried to read the material but could not. They thought that having to read a hundred pages was far too much. Nevertheless, although many of them knew very little, they thought that they should pass anyway.
One student who got a low grade blamed it on Jed’s English.
“Your English is different from Aslanistan English,” they said. “We are used to Aslanistan English. That’s why we could not do well on the exam.”
“I am sorry, I cannot speak English like that,” Jed said.
Jed always prepared lectures. Came and put it all out, but there was little response. It was not until the exam that he could discover how little most of them had understood.
In the graduate class, there were some bright students who understood things easily and were ready to learn. Jed would make them participate by giving reports.
He hit the ground running. Jed liked the morning classes. That was when he had more energy. But it was totally unrealistic that he should hold the students for the entire three hours of the time period. They barely had an attention span of twenty minutes. How were they going to put up with three hours. Consequently, some of them drifted away after the first hour. Some new ones came late. By the third hour, those attending had dwindled down to less than half. One could not take attendance for all three periods.
As far as Jed was concerned, it was not his problem if they attended or not. On the other hand, he realized that there was a big bunch of dummies to push through every semester and if they were not pushed through, the sausage machine would get backlogged and jammed up. And he would be to blame.
So he had to formulate a curve system where a respectable proportion of them would be passed. He saw that if he went by the criteria of the university, less than a third of them were going to pass. Therefore, he would have to fudge the grades to fit the official grading scale. All of this was a sort of farce, but it was the only way to make it work.
Melanie was there every time. He would see her come in wearing stylish sports clothes. She was cute and a little older than the average students. At first, he thought she was British, but found that she was a mixture of British and other European nationalities. She had chocolate brown hair, falling down past her shoulders and wore those tight pants on her long, lovely legs. She brought a pack with a notebook and sat up front and took notes. And she laughed at his jokes. Some of the other students who did not have a clue about what was going on in the class tried to get help from her. She was generous, but could not help them all.
One day during the break, she asked Jed if he would like a coffee. He readily accepted, and she brought it. He talked to her and found out a little about her and how she came to be studying in Chaos. She told him she was enjoying the class, unlike most students, he could see. Some of the Nigerians, however, were having a good time and understanding the material.
After class, Jed would sometimes take a rest in the little cafeteria restaurant in the building. Sometimes Melanie would be there and order one of the menus for lunch. That way, Jed came to talk to her and know her better.
What a lovely young woman, he thought. It made him regret that he was not thirty years younger.
Chapter Twenty-five: The Christian
Since continuous driving would get to be a boring grind, Professor Singer sometimes took the minibus to the city when he was teaching at Deniz University. They ran every fifteen minutes and were cheap. One needed to be out a little before eight, to be at the university for the first class at half past nine. Catching the small bus in the local town, it was an hour to the bus stop and a short taxi ride to the university. The mornings would always be crowded, people getting on and off all along the way in the villages and schools along the road. From the back seats, the passengers passed their money up and the driver made change as he drove and passed the change back. People were honest and never tried to filch each other’s money.
Sometimes it was possible to read on the way, if one had the inclination, especially when he was on the side or in a corner. Most of the way, it would be crowded with students and peasants standing until a seat became available. Sometimes it was not easy as some of the drivers tended to be fast and reckless. Others drove so slow that he risked being late. Now and then there would be an attractive young woman, usually a student, but generally older peasants, fat and out of shape if they were women, thin and grizzled, unshaven, if men going to their work. This too would get to be a grind if one had to do it often. In the late afternoons on the way back, he sometimes fell asleep along the way.
At the bus stop, he would grab a waiting taxi for the five minute ride to the university. A nice thing about the country was the availability of taxis and they were cheap and reliable. He would usually arrive in time to go down and have a tea before the class. Usually one of the first to arrive. Not many students around yet. It was a late starting town. After the tea, it was time to grab his book and notes and head for the class. The problem came with finding a computer to show his power point slides. Since there were not enough to go around he generally had to share one with other instructors. Sometimes it was difficult to get it to function. The university administration took the view that if one really insisted on teaching the class with power point, then they could bring their own computer. In other words, one would be forced to subsidize their teaching habit or do it the old fashioned way. He could do it either way, but now he was doing it the easier way as long as he could manage a computer. He would not take his own every time. Somehow it rankled him to be treated that way.
Arriving at the class, he would set things up. Sometimes there would be an aid to help. A big city university and a rich city university. The students tended to take a casual attitude to the classes. Many would drift in late in the first fifteen minutes. So it would take a while before he could get the class started.
It was necessary to humor the students, but one had to know how to do it, given the language gap. Ordinarily most of the students would not get a joke. So he had to nurse it along. The university had loaded up the classes with a big group of students, so that it was a blessing with only half of them or so showing up.
He would start with some general remarks and then begin the slide presentation. How to keep their attention? This was a problem.
After a few classes he began to see that the university was more like a high school than a university. The group of students had most of their classes together, so they sat with their friends. He had trouble keeping them from talking and disturbing the class.
Then there was the lover couple. He had to put up with that. The girl could have been a quite good student, if not for the bully guy who kept bugging her all the time and would not leave her alone. Sometimes he had to make them sit apart in other places. And then there was the hyperactive guy. He couldn’t sit still or keep his mouth shut. Kept bugging his friends. He would have to come down to the front. Jed would have to humor him like a little kid.
The morning class, which met weekly, was divided into three periods. During the first period, sometimes not much progress would be made. There would be a fifteen minute break, and then more students would turn up for the second period. This time, he would try to finish the presentation. Even this stretched far beyond their attention span, after all. He needed to do something different to kill the last period. Rather than keep pounding the lesson, he would make it more entertaining. Just call it crazy hour.
He would tell them a story, write some lines from a song on the board and sing it to them. He thought it was probably an effective way to keep their attention and teach them something and also to have some fun. He would let them go by noon, even though the class lasted till half past the hour, officially.
By this time he was hungry. He would wrap it up, lug the equipment up to the room and head for the cafeteria. The food was simple, rudimentary. He would sit down to eat after getting his food. Sometimes a colleague would sit down next to him. But sometimes it was worse if Abdurrezzak Bey came round. It was not often, as he usually had his food brought to his office, but sometimes he would appear. For Jed it was a dread to see him and he hoped that he would gravitate to a different table. If there was another faculty member he would sometimes appear and nothing could be done about it.
Jed had sat down to eat. A couple of other faculty members came and sat with him. In a little bit, he saw Abdurrezzak’s fat body moving down the counter and after getting his tray of food he joined them. Seeing the dean and his fat gut, the cooks always pleased him by piling some extra food on his plate. He was just coming from one of the TV programs on which he appeared. They were local, rather obscure programs on a religious channel.
He began a conversation with the other faculty members. Jed did not get everything, but it was clear to him that they were engaged in a conversation about religion. Abdurrezzak Bey was in a fine mood, as he instructed his children, as if he was the teacher and they were sitting around to soak up his wisdom. He was still buzzed from being on the TV set and performing in front of the camera.
Jed watched his pudgy piggy hands as he talked and punched the air making his points, sometimes very seriously. It was clear that his soul was still burning from the points he had adumbrated for his audience and he could not yet settle down his agitated mind. That son of a bitch is on a mission, Jed thought, a fucking religious mission. It is no accident that he has landed here in this defunct place. He is on a mission to turn it into something akin to a madrassa, a religious school. Jed stayed out of the conversation, eating his food and minding his own business.
All of a sudden, Professor Odun turned to him. Jed saw his puffy jowls begin to jerk. “How do Christians pray?” he asked Jed. “How do they bow down?” What the fuck? Jed thought. What kind of question is that? There must be all kinds of ways depending on the country and the sect.
Feeling a little mischievous, and put off by Abdurrezzak Bey’s question, Jed said, “I really cannot say. I am not a Christian.” But he then added. “I don’t think there is any special way. There are lots of ways depending on the sect.” Abdurrezzak and the others laughed, but it was clear that it was just to humor Jed. He didn’t really like the answer. To him, Jed was as much of a Christian as if it had been branded across his forehead and there was no getting around it. This was the sort of thinking that one find in a rank communalist like Odun.
Why the fuck did this son of a bitch have to come around here today? Jed thought. My bad luck. And why is he asking me such questions? It is not my field and it does not matter to me. He is just giving me a litmus test, Jed thought, to see what my reaction is going to be.
He didn’t follow to drink tea after the meal as the others would go there to the lounge with the dean. Jed wanted some relief from that disgusting scene and so he went up to check his computer and read some articles. Thinking about it, he thought that his status was surely not very good with the dean and perhaps sinking daily. It was bad enough to be a Christian, but to fall short on that also was even worse. Having no religion at all would be far beyond the pale for the dean.
He dreaded to see Hatice Hanim prance in and start telling him about some business professor at MIT who was getting an award for some shit eating screed that he had written. Had she heard of Noam Chomsky? He suspected maybe not. When the tea room cleared and the professors went back to their offices and classes, he would drift down and have his tea in peace and quiet. The job was not turning out exactly like he had hoped.
Chapter Twenty-Six: The Invigilation
The storm hit just as Jed was returning from lunch. First a gentle rain on his windshield as he drove the three kilometers back to the MCU campus. Then the rain picked up when he was nearing the gate. Before he reached his parking lot, down in the lower part of the campus, the clouds burst and sent down a torrent.
He could see that his parking place was not only flooded but now washing out with the deep stream of water rushing down from above. Not possible to park there. He drove on further through the flooded street behind Electro Park to where the road was not so flooded. He would park and wait it out until it slackened up. It was another forty-five minutes before he had to invigilate the examination.
He waited fifteen minutes, but there was no slack. The clouds blackened further above the mountains and the rain picked up. Then he heard the ice pelting his car as the hail storm began. It pounded down, the lawns quickly turning white with hailstones. It would not do to get out in that pounding storm. Another fifteen minutes and the rain still pelted. It was coming up to just ten minutes before the exam.
There was no choice, heavy downpour or hail, he had to be out. He readied his umbrella, opened the door and was out in the drenching downpour. It was a heavy slosh to the grassy part and then he hurried to the back entrance of the building. Perhaps it had slacked up a little, but he still had to brave the storm. It was a good thing he had worn his big shoes.
Leaving his bag in his office, he hurried to the exam. The new building where it was being held, Freedom Complex, had just opened in a celebration. He had to wade through the water rushing down the hill to reach the front of the building. When he came round to the entrance, he saw that the road in front of the building was completely flooded with a foot of water. Students and instructors with their examination materials were attempting to make it to the entrance of Freedom Complex.
But the only way, short of wading deep water, was along the edge of the road along the building. Over the deepest part, a long ladder had been thrown down. By walking across the rungs of the ladder and balancing one’s self, it was possible to reach the building. He joined the procession.
He took the plunge. Lucky that he had worn his big tough shoes, he thought. At least he had a good shot at keeping his feet dry. He walked across the rungs of the ladder, carefully balancing himself. Jed made it to the lounge and shook the water off his soaked umbrella. By this time it was getting crowded and more instructors and students were arriving in a flood. Mass chaos ensued. No one knew where to go. He had the number of the room, but the numbers had not yet been put on the doors.
He climbed the stairs to the next floor, thinking that it could be there, but he could locate nothing.
Coming down again, it was so crowded that no one could move, even if they had known the way to their rooms. Mass confusion continued for fifteen or twenty minutes while people tried to figure out where they were supposed to go.
In the confusion, Jed saw Melanie, one of his students. She was somewhat older than some of the students, a lovely young woman who had been putting a blister on his heart since the first day he saw her sitting in his intro class.
“This is mad, just mad, Melanie. What is going on? Have you ever seen anything like this in your life,” Jed said. “This is Chaos. Chaos at its best.”
“It is crazy,” Melanie said. “I am going to go over there and see if I can ask someone where I am supposed to go.”
She had the most beautiful long, brown hair, a small cute face. She looked and acted British, but was actually more European, even though she had a British passport. Jed loved the way she flitted around eating that fast food with a huge appetite in that little café next to where his class met. Her long legs were truly beautiful. He couldn’t forget that cute little smile. What a dream. Probably a bitch, he thought. But what the hell? He couldn’t quite figure out what she was doing in this university. She should be at someplace serious, he thought. Maybe she was also here to play around.
It was starting to be fun in a way, all this chaos. He started to just not care. He didn’t give a shit about anything, what would happen. Just let things roll on.
Eventually some of the instructors came and told the invigilators where their rooms were located. When they arrived at the room, it was locked. They had to find the cleaning staff who had the magnetic cards to open the doors. The students also got directed and the confusion subsided after wasting half an hour. The exams began to get under way.
The class Jed was to invigilate was a computer graphics class. The instructor was a young woman in her twenties with impressive breasts that stuck straight out. She flashed a smile that showed big white teeth and welcomed him. His duty was to check the IDs of the students and their exam cards which proved that they had paid their fees. No money, no exams. That was one rule to which there were no exceptions, as far as he knew. Students kept stringing in long after the exam had begun.
When the students had settled down and began to work on the computers to make their designs, he could settle back. It became a bore. The room soon became too hot with the heater blowing hot air across the room.
Jed glanced at the exam to see what was going on. The exercise was to design an ad for a scuba diving class. They were given a handout that showed them an example of what they were to reproduce. The students turned to the work diligently. Jed had never seen them engage with books in such an intense manner. This was truly a new generation.
He sat back and considered the situation. They have raised horse shit to a new level at this university, Jed thought. It was like a huge play, with people gyrating on the stage, going through all the motions, but completely vacuous. There was no substance whatsoever behind it. It was a shadow play that looked real but was all virtual imagination.
The girl with the big tits told him that he could go early as she could do the rest. Jed thanked her and got his umbrella and jacket.
The next morning he had to invigilate another exam. It was an English class. Again, there was mass chaos. Half the students had entered the room that held about sixty students, but they did not know if they were in the right section. The other invigilator had them come up to the front of the room and check the list. It was chaos. Finally the students were settled down and the exam could begin. Various strategies were devised by the instructors to keep the students from cheating. If there were four rows of students, there must be four different versions of the exam, the questions arranged in different orders.
Jed set about checking IDs and exam cards. It was a slow process. The students had to find their names on a long list of students and sign off. Then more students kept coming, arriving late. Places for them had to be found. Whether they were in the right section or not was given up. The exam was hopelessly disorganized.
In the lecture hall, the floor was wet from the rains the day before. The glass ceiling of the atrium had leaked like a sieve when the rains finally arrived. Wet umbrellas were leaning against the wall. The linoleum on the floor had split open in several places. Jed noticed that the board had not been erased. A lesson was still there from a week ago. No instructor ever erased his board before leaving the classroom. It seemed to be a cardinal rule of the university.
No one had attempted to erase the board so the space could be used to post notices about the exams.
Finally finished with the invigilation, Jed went to the library on the other side of the campus to take back two books at lunch. There was a large pile of rubble in front of the building piled along the wall. A thicket of discarded metal and plastic junk occupied the corner of the parking lot. Overhead as he walked along the covered sidewalk, someone was running a jackhammer. Some brick bats and pieces of cement were falling down.
Inside the library, the roof had leaked over the book shelves. Newspapers had been put down next to the shelves of books to absorb the water. Clearly some damage had been done. Some of the books were now soaked. To what extent this was a loss was not clear. Many of the books remained untouched for years.
Jed returned his two books and found another one to check out. A thick biography would help kill some time. His graduate student from Sierra Leone was working at the library desk to check out the books, a quiet and gentle student who was too sharp to be in this university, Jed reflected.
As his political economy exam was to be given at one o’clock he hurried back to Einstein Complex.
Why couldn’t they make roofs that did not leak in this country, he wondered? He recalled the time some twenty years ago he had stood in his office and held an umbrella over his head as the water poured through the ceiling at the first rain in the Fall. That was the good old days at Eastern Chaos University. Someone took a picture and gave him a copy. Nothing had changed in the twenty years since, it seemed.
Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Business Model
The business model was taking over everywhere. It was a part of the free market gospel of neoliberalism since the 1980s. It had taken a while for the privatization mania in the schools and universities to take hold, but now that it had, it was going great guns. What country or system could resist it? It was, of course, driven by none other than that global corporate leader, the United States of America.
This was the fallout from the Chicago School of Economics. Everything, all of human behavior, could be understood in terms of neoclassical economic logic according to Anthony Downs. Then Gary Becker came up with the idea of human capital. Education was just a capital investment, like investing in any other commodity. One could then measure the rate of return on the investment. The idea of knowledge for the sake of knowledge aside from productivity was considered an old fashioned concept and out of date.
Whatever happened in America, it seemed, had to be taken up in other countries even if it was bad. Especially if it was bad. From the observation of Singer, the worse the innovation, the more damaging, the sooner other countries would latch onto it. This was especially true of those countries that were known as the big emerging markets. This was where crony capitalism was flourishing and demonstrating its economic horsepower.
Singer found that especially those countries that tended to hate the outside, particularly the West, took up the worst innovations of America in the shortest time. This was especially true of countries ruled by a religious party. This was most certainly driven by their material interests to make money and get as rich as possible in the shortest possible time. They were going head over heels for crony capitalism. The most eager in this regard were the religious parties once they got a taste of power. Intuitively, one might have thought just the opposite, but this was not the case. They stuck like a magnet to the Great Satan, the American dollar bill.
In America the private corporations were itching to get their hands on the schools. They were a gold-mine for profits. They were going to mine them, and the students’ brains and souls once they got them McDonaldized. It was generally believed that the public schools were largely a failure and failing more all the time. Once this image was consolidated among the public, through the corporate media, then they could be closed down and education forked over to private corporations. They would be given contracts to run the schools. It didn’t matter whether the students learned anything or not. The idea would be to produce and groom individuals to serve the needs of the corporations. Actually the corporations had found a way to make sure that they did not learn the critical facts that a citizen should know. It would just be a simple trick for the corporations to dress things up to make it look like they were doing a great job and something that the public sector could not do. All they had to do was to teach them how to pass the tests. It would just be another exercise in corporate hype.
Ironically, the corporations were largely to blame for starving the schools of the funds which they needed. With their off shore tax havens, they had long ago stopped paying taxes. More and more of the burden of education was put on the backs of the people. As private schools got to be established people realized that they were ruining the lives of their children by keeping them in the public schools.
The corporations pushed hard for the voucher system. This was a tricky way to get people’s tax money out of the public schools and into the hands of the private sector. Students going to private schools would get their tax money back in the form of a voucher and spend it at a private school. Of course, they had to pay more than they got for the voucher. Private schools cost more so they had to pay the balance. Of course, this just brought the public schools down that much faster. This was part of the plan.
It was similar to the way the manufacturing sectors of the economy had been destroyed in the seventies. Now the corporations were going after the schools too. If tearing down a country was profitable, then it would most certainly be torn down.
Regardless of how bad the model was, it started to be spread around the world. Corporations had huge reserves of cash. If they sank some of it into creating a university, there was nothing to lose. It would raise the visibility of the business enterprise. It would be billed as a non-profit enterprise, even as it generated huge incomes for those who were running the institution. The profits could always be disguised as costs to keep up the non-profit image.
Since the 1990s, private universities had sprung up like mushrooms all across Aslanistan. It was one of the leading countries for this enterprise.
It was realized that in the existing world, a young person was sunk without a university degree. This is not to say education. Whether they were educated or not, they had to obtain a university degree one way or another. The old state universities were of a mixed quality. Some were good, but most quite mediocre. They were anti-intellectual and conservative teaching a list of courses set up by the educational bureaucracy, CRAP.
Every year, examinations were given, but thousands were not good enough to pass to get a place in these universities. Now with more families coming into the middle classes and having money, then the vogue became to simply buy a degree in one of the private degree mill institutions. That was the ticket.
At first it was done in Chaos, with students going there who were left out. But in a decade or so, so many private universities came up in Aslanistan that the universities in Chaos were begging and crying for students. A supply had to be mined from somewhere. It was like looking for copper or gold. Once the supply was found, it would be mined and processed and the universities would stay in business.
What they found in this case, the gold they found was black gold, that is students from Nigeria. They began to import them en masse. Since it was not a part of the European Union, it was easier. All they really needed was cash in the form of Euros or dollars.
On the island there was much more flexibility. While there were laws, they were relatively meaningless and could not be reinforced, in any event. So the model was underway. They were laughing all the way to the bank. If a student complained too much, they could simply be deported back to Nigeria. They might try to make the leap over the wall to Europe. This would be the big prize, but this was a difficult task to achieve.
In the business model, the maximum had to be squeezed out of the employees, just as in an outfit such as McDonalds or Burger King. This meant hiring the least qualified employees. It meant loading them up with so many courses that they were going out of their minds trying to remember what they were supposed to be teaching in each class. It meant crowding together into cramped offices. It meant not giving them their own computer. It meant not subsidizing any research. It meant not providing any money to go to conferences for contacts with other academics and self- improvement. It meant basically ignoring them and their needs as academics. They should not interfere in the operation. It meant chaining them to a desk like a bureaucrat from nine to five, thereby killing any brain cells which might still be alive. This would kill all their creativity and prevent them from thinking as much as possible. It was a variety of incarceration, a slow death, which would set in permanently if they stayed in the position. It meant that there would be no faculty representation. If they raised a problem at a meeting, then they would be told that there was nothing that could be done about it. Certainly not in the business model which looked to the bottom line.
There would also be no student organizations in order for the students to be represented. Except for a few token projects organized and controlled by above by the corporate honchos for window-dressing. There would be no input from the students. There would be no way for the employees to address working conditions or labor issues. Any kind of such attempt to address such issues was grounds to get one fired at once. Even when they were being cheated out of half of their retirement, they were so intimidated that they were afraid to raise the issue. They expected to be sacked if they did. There were no medical benefits to be paid. They were given short-term contracts which meant that they were paid only for the days they worked and not during annual leave. Employees would generally be churned over as at McDonalds, but if they stayed long enough to get advancement, it would just mean that they got stuck on the island. The rank would be useless and disregarded if they went elsewhere. It also meant that they would be isolated with a lack of research facilities.
The business model was not about education, but corporate profits.
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Chasing Hope
October came with clear sunny skies. The days were still hot. In the mornings the air was cool for a short time before the sun began to bear down relentlessly. Jed’s Australian friends swam in the pool every morning. They were made of stern stuff.
Since it was Friday, Professor Singer did not have to go to the office until mid-afternoon. The project he was about to launch was brought about by the meeting he had with his old friend, Huseyin, who he had not seen for more than fifteen years.
They met at a fancy and pricy place near where the road started up the foothill to the mountain. It was a Sunday morning. Huseyin ordered coffee in a small French coffee press. They talked about the old days and what had happened to the people they worked with. Were they still among the living? Certainly at least two of them had passed on. Huseyin told him that he might be able to get some retirement money from the years he had worked in Chaos at Eastern Chaos University.
Jed was under the impression that his work this year would add more to his retirement. Huseyin inquired about combining his years in Chaos with his time in Myopia. The Social Security official said it was possible. Jed was not sure about it but decided to pursue the possibility. There was nothing to lose, except the wear and tear of dragging one’s self from one government office to another. Nevertheless, it seemed too good to be true.
When Jed woke up in the strange one-room dwelling, he got up from the bed in the loft. Zeynep continued to snooze. The small infuriating gnats were still biting his arms and legs at night. He noticed a couple of the tiny critters that made life miserable settled on the wall. He carefully smashed them with his hand rubbing them in to leave a black streak. Those sons of bitches are finished, he thought, wishing he could wipe all of them out. I will leave a message for the others if they ask for the same treatment. When he lifted the shade of the window opposite the bed, the sharp rise of the mountain range appeared to the left. The tops of the mountains seemed close, and reminded one of the humps on a camel’s back. Below, he could see tropical vegetation blooming in the gardens, regardless of the extremely dry ground. The cliffs were beautiful with rock outcrops and forest above. He could hardly believe he was living that close to this mountain range. Before going downstairs to have some cereal and make tea he rubbed his arms and legs with more salve to stop the itching. It helped, but the little buggers really got deep into one’s skin deep and the itching kept up for days.
After he got his shit, shower and shave, Jed and Zeynep started. They got out into the traffic around nine on the main road through the town. He forced himself to remember to drive on the wrong side of the road, the left side, British side. The British had invented it for horses and declined to change it when cars were invented. It was a quick drive to Samos, but one had to first get through the morning traffic in Midas. They drove down to the main road past fast food joints, banks, furniture and kitchen supply stores, and supermarkets and headed east. Some parts of the road were blocked for new construction. The highway began at a traffic circle some three kilometers away. They headed south and up into the foothills, the road curved to the right through pine forests, where it was cooler, and then wound up over the pass.
Coming up to the other side, the pine forest ended replaced with shrubs along the road and dry grasses, baked by the long summer sun. Big gaudy signs showed flashy new apartments, Mercedes autos, Land Rovers, casinos, gambling hotels, and luxury items, pursued by residents of Chaos, even though any serious productive enterprises were lacking. The money was pouring in from somewhere, as was made quite clear by the new apartment blocks coming up and flashy new autos. Jed took his time, letting the big Mercedes taxis and Land Rovers soar past him to the right. They had business to attend to. Getting richer. Building up their fortune, if not the country. People were going places. They invariably sported a cigarette in their hand or had a cell phone held close to their ear. Sometimes both.
He noticed the sides of the roads, thickly carpeted with plastic and glass bottles, bags, various empty containers tossed from the windows of cars. Plastic bags had been blown onto the limbs of small trees and bushes like blooming flowers. Crushed cardboard boxes lay around caught up in the dry thistles along the roadsides. Sometimes plastic bags of household trash appeared.
Nothing has changed in twenty years, Jed thought. They are still tossing everything right out the windows of their cars. He noticed a car in front of him. Someone suddenly tossed a bag to the side of the highway. Having breakfast on the way, apparently. Just what were they thinking of? Nothing probably. How could people be so callous and nationalistic toward the place, claim to love it, and trash it out at the same time like was happening here. It didn’t add up. But clearly, whatever they were seeing from their cars, it was not the carpet of trash which lined the sides of the highway.
Further down the slope the grass became brown and dry. Scrubby bushes grew in the space between the divided highways. Plastic bags clung to their branches. He remembered when this road was just new, just built. Now it was essentially worn out, badly needing to be stripped and renewed. If it was to be done, however, the money would have to come from Myopia.
Some workers were along the road, looking tired, ragged and poor, obviously from Myopia. They could be seen working on the road in various places, making necessary repairs. Chaosarians buzzed past their Myopian slaves in flashy new Mercedes autos and new Land Rovers.
“These poor guys have become their slaves,” Jed thought cynically. “They come here just to get a job and live and send their money back home, and have to pay for their work permits and their aids test and other fees. They get doubly exploited.”
It was hot now, as they descended to the stuffy air of the plain. Dry fields had been cultivated to the left but were now fallow. The poor crop of wheat had been harvested months before, leaving a desolate look to the fields. It seemed, essentially, to be a wasteland, lacking water. The fall rains would have to come before rye or wheat could be planted, not for the grain crop, of course. The real crop was the government subsidy which came from Myopia.
They passed another business-model university half a kilometer from the road in a desolate area. Square white buildings clustered on a little plateau up from the plain.
The most boring buildings on earth, Jed thought. And there are instructors sitting in them bored, staring mindlessly at their computers at boring web sites, before heading off to face a listless gaggle of mindless students. Whitewashed buildings surrounded by fields of residential sites. This was modern Chaos. Enough to make one groan and yearn to head for the airport for a destination in Myopia or elsewhere if one was fortunate.
“All the same shit,” Jed thought. “From one side of the Island to the other, it is all the same fucking shit. And all quite desolate and depressing. Boring. How a place could be both populated and desolate at the same time was inexplicable, but here it was somehow managed. It reminded him of some defunct university campuses in India, built out in the boondocks in the bally wick of some local politician. Pork barrel money had built it, whether there was any function except to keep a fat babu in office.
After another eight kilometers, they reached the first big traffic circle and entered the outskirts of Samos. It was greener here due to the vast waste of water from the continuous sprinklers. Jed steered around the circle to the left, detained only by the morning stream of traffic coming from the right. Then he rushed to merge into the flow.
Out of the circle on the other side, the traffic was heavy at a couple of bottlenecks. Then they reached a more open area and spotted the five story office building ahead which dealt with social security applications for retirement. It rose in an uninviting rather desolate spot inside the city surrounded by barren lots and drying thistles baked by months of summer sun.
Jed pulled into the last vacant parking space in the lot for visitors. He scrambled out and entered the building clinging to his thick folder of documents. He was directed with his wife up to the first floor to a small office by a security official. His wife explained the situation to the woman at the desk.
The woman was a nice-looking and friendly middle aged woman rather attractive with a young face and buxom breasts. She said it was possible to get retirement, but of course there were documents they would need. Everything was said to be possible, but making it happen was the trick. From Jed’s experience, there was usually some technicality which would leave him disqualified.
First, they had missed a month by coming a day late. In fact, they had missed at least three years by not applying earlier. Jed could have been collecting something for the past three years, she noted. Late, he was always late. Lacking any information, he really had no clue about these things. It was all buried in obscure bureaucratic jargon. All unintelligible not only to him, but the bureaucrats who were supposed to follow the directives. He had already applied at least three times and got nowhere in Myopia.
When they asked about Jed’s current insurance payments from the university, they were surprised to learn that there was nothing. He had not even been enrolled. Nothing could be paid as he was over the age at which insurance was paid by employers. This was something that he had never been informed about.
“Shit,” Jed thought. “Just imagine. That actually blows the whole reason why I came to this fucking island. I had intended to fill up the remaining three years needed to retire in Myopia.”
It made him feel like a fucking blithering fool who had missed a turn and ended up in the wrong place.
“It also explains another reason why I was a cheap bargain for MCU. Sure, they were getting me at a bargain basement price. No benefits at all to be paid. No retirement, no health benefits, no holiday, no nothing. He had even been told that he had to ask for permission to leave the island, as if he was a small child and not an adult.
It was a shock, but what the hell, he thought. He was getting used to such shocks. There is little to shock me now. I am here now and earning some money, so fuck it. That is life. Let me get whatever the fuck it is that I am going to get. Maybe it would be worth it. But then, he started thinking that he was getting a little old for this sort of adventure. How much longer could it go on?
The buxom woman looked over the documents. It was quite clear that she was not overworked. People working for the state just rode the gravy train for a few years and then retirement. They skipped out of the office a couple of days every week.
For the application, they would have to go to another office, which was actually the social security office for Chaos. “This is not actually the right office,” she said. She gave them directions which seemed simple, but were not.
Jed was able to find the run-down place in a crowded street closer to downtown. They parked across the street in a supermarket lot and went into the cluttered and aging building.
Inside, there was a corridor next to a fabricated wood and glass barrier. Behind this clerks were sitting behind cluttered desks piled high with thick dusty folders of various colors. Some of them were laughing and chatting and drinking coffee from small cups. Some were taking telephone calls, arguing with a person on the other end of the line or chatting with a friend or relative. Some had left their desks and stood outside to have a cigarette. Only a couple were looking over documents from an open folder and taking notes in a lethargic manner.
Where does one begin? Jed thought. The situation always produced the urge in him to flee at once from the confusion, forget it. It is not worth it. From his experience in such offices, it probably would not work anyway, and one would go round and round on the torturous wheel and always coming back to the very same spot to start all over again. These bureaucrats played with one’s life. Their work had turned them into dedicated misanthropes. They saw men and women walking as just other applicants for social security which would burden them with another application which they would ignore as long as possible as it lay on the corner of their desk gathering dust. They avoided people, especially avoided looking into their face, particularly their eyes. They had hardened, their soul petrified to rock during all those years behind a desk. They drank endless cups of coffee and tea. They fell ill quickly at any excuse and had a stack of doctor’s reports hidden in their desk for quick action if they saw a client approaching.
Birth certificate! Oh yes! How many fucking times in his life had he been asked to prove that he was born! Born yes! The assumption was that one was hatched until proved otherwise with an official document saying they had indeed been born, not hatched. And identification card to prove that one was really themselves and no other. Perhaps they could have changed into someone else. It was all insulting to the core, not to be taken seriously.
For Jed, it was total confusion as these types of government offices always were. Zeynep asked what they had to do. First they were given a single sheet of paper to fill out some basic information. Then Zeynep slid it under the glass window to one of the clerks. She gave them some more information. They needed to go upstairs. Third Floor. They found the room. A woman at retirement age was sitting behind the desk. She was the missing link between Chaos and Myopia. Whether the gap could ever be bridged was a larger and more profound question. Another copy was made of Jed’s birth certificate and identification card. They wanted a copy of his passport too, although now he was inside the system.
One of the persons working behind the glass barrier recognized Jed. It was one of his old students from some sixteen years age. A young thin woman. She told him that she had been in his environmental politics class and still had the textbooks for it. She was not good looking and looked older than her age but she was kind. Jed was very glad to see her and thought that perhaps she could help them work through some of the bureaucracy.
Jed gave some copies of his critical documents, such as his birth certificate and identification card. However, the rub was really that he needed the proof that he had worked those years in Chaos. Lacking his old passport that had the work permits, they were forced to go to the interior ministry archives and apply to have them copied. They had no way to know that this would take another five weeks at the time. The main reason was that the director who had to sign off for them was never to be found in his office. When someone asked about him, it was said that he was in a meeting. If that excuse fell through, it was said more truthfully that he had not come that day. He was, in fact, at large, still collecting his pay. He had reached high enough up on the career ladder to hardly ever appear at his office until the stacks of documents to sign grew too large.
Finished with this office, it was back on the road to follow their instructions. Eventually, they arrived at the cluster of government buildings that handled the government affairs of the island of Chaos. They found the interior ministry and made the application in the archives department.
It took the whole morning. Like all such government buildings, there was a canteen where one could get tea and snacks. Jed and Zeynep went and rested up and drank some tea with snacks. Jed figured that it would take a week to get the documents, but in the event it would be more than a month.
Back on the road, they found the way out of the city and back to Midas over the mountains. It was always a relief to Jed to be finished with bureaucracy for the day even if nothing much had been accomplished. They wished for a place to get some simple food, but it seemed to be very short in this town. The simple solution was the place that had some soup daily. They got a simple lunch there.
Back in their apartment, Jed was able to take a short rest before heading for his late day at the university. It would be the evening class in international political economy. He never mentioned his activities to his office mate as he did not want the staff to know his plans. They were largely experimental anyway. There was no way to know if they would work.
Going up to the campus from his place, it was tiring, but he could actually settle back and take some rest in his office. He would lecture on something general in the evening, getting the class started. He knew the material quite well from teaching it for years.
It was just another day of chasing hope in Chaos.
Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Great Escape
Jed had just come from his morning class when he got the call from his old friend Bulut Bey. It was difficult to understand exactly what he was saying as the call came in a noisy place.
“Hi Ed,” he said. “How are things going there?”
“Well, you know as well as me in this shit place. Where have you been, Bulut? I haven’t seen you for the last couple of weeks.”
“Oh, you know that I have left the university,” Bulut Bey said. “I am not working there anymore. I am at another university now in Samos.”
“That’s good,” Jed said. “I don’t know how long I am going to stay here. I really can’t take it for very long.”
“Well, that is why I want to talk to you,” Bulut Bey said. “I want to get you out of there soon. I want to rescue you from that place.”
“That will be good,” Jed said. “How soon?”
“You can come to this university next semester,” he said. “Why don’t you come and have lunch next week and we can talk about the contract.”
“That would be great,” Jed said. “But you have to give me the directions how to get there again.”
“Sure, no problem. Give me a call before you come,” Bulut Bay said. “And we will arrange it.”
“OK, I’ll talk to you in the evening.”
Jed went on teaching his classes. He called Bulut Bey in the evening and wrote instructions about out how to get to the place.
The next Wednesday, Jed left the university at noon, playing hooky, and drove with his wife to Samos. He followed his directions, but nevertheless, ended up lost in the noon traffic in Samos. After asking directions from several people they eventually found the seven story building and parked in the lot behind.
When he walked in, he met Bulut Bey, who greeted him in the corridor. They went downstairs where the faculty and others involved with the company were being served lunch. It turned out that the company running the new university was centered around a big casino on the north shore. Something like the Sultan’s Palace.
Jed liked the arrangement for the lunch and thought that it might be a good place to work. The food would certainly be a big improvement, it seemed. And lunch was provided as part of the deal, apparently. The first course was a nice soup followed by fish and chips.
Bulut Bey talked to him and his wife at the lunch and introduced them to some of the other faculty members. Some others were officials of the company.
“This place is not like MCU,” he said. “This place is run by Aslanistanians and will treat you right. They don’t have those chicken-shit rules. They don’t make you come at nine in the morning and stay until five. You can have more freedom to do your work and leave the island when you want for a weekend or holiday.
Zeynep talked to Bulut Bey and some of the guys from the company. They had managed to get rich quick, but it was not clear how financially secure the enterprise was. There was always some risk to these types of things. If they did not get students, then one would be out of a job. They needed a lot of management to get the place up and running.
Suddenly Bulut Bey brought up the topic of Vahap and his plagiarized dissertation.
“The shit hit the fan on this plagiarized dissertation,” he said. “They had an inquiry and I was questioned too. And nothing happened. This guy is into a lot of shit, you know. Nothing ever happens to these guys. He has political connections.”
It was clear that Bulut Bey had not actually done his job as the director of the graduate school when the dissertation was being written. After all, he had worked for Vahap Bey. How could he tell him that the work was a piece of shit, even if he knew it. Especially if he knew it. Just pass it on and let it go.
Jed said that it was amazing how Vahap Bey, that asshole, was in trouble and still nothing happened. It has all been dismissed by FAKCRAP. Everyone was always hiding behind the lack of accountability and betting on the illegality of the island to save their asses. It was power versus principle and power was sure to win.
“It was investigated by FAKCRAP,” Bulut Bey, said. “Supposedly.” This was the higher education council for Chaos and the counterpart to CRAP, the higher education council in Myopia. They said everything was fine and dandy. Otherwise all the graduate programs up there at MCU would be closed down at a big loss to the island.
After lunch, they went upstairs to a small seating area. They were treated to coffee. Bulut Bey started spinning his stories and blowing them up moving his hands around and smiling. He was clearly floating around in the clouds somewhere in his imagination. Perhaps that was how he got his name, Bulut Bey.
“Well, I had to get out of that university. Jed, this year when I came back, you know, let’s say I felt my feet going back,” Bulut Bey said. “I was going but I just had a feeling. I didn’t want to come. To be around there. I went to my office. I thought I was still director of the graduate school. There was somebody else in my office. I said, what are you doing here? This is my office,” he said.
Bulut moved his hand around in a circle, a look of surprise on his face. His eyes had grown large. He smiled and laughed. His bald head was shining.
“They had removed all my stuff. What’s this? I asked. Why is all my shit out here? It was laying in the hallway. My books, everything. I picked up all my stuff and carried it home. Just like that. I was kicked out. Someone else was in my office and had taken my job. Then I didn’t have a place. I could just wander around.”
“That is really bad,” Jed said, “to treat someone like that.”
“Oh, they are psychopaths over there,” he said. “Since that, I did not have an office. That’s why I was just wandering around from office to office, talking to people. I didn’t have a place to go. I was just around from morning till late, not having anywhere to go.”
“I had told them what they should do. I wrote to many graduate schools. I started bringing in people from America to get the program working. It was very successful. So many universities were interested. But Vahap Bey said “What are you doing, Bulut Bey? You cannot do it like this.” He was jealous. He was jealous because he wanted to do it himself, but he did not know how to do it.”
“I knew how to do it. I was running three companies in Istanbul.”
Bulut Bey made a grand flourish with his hand and looked impressive.
“I know how to manage. These guys are just bullshit. They don’t know anything. They are really something. I can’t understand them. They were strange people. Sometimes they say to you, Bulut Bey, you are doing a great job. Then they get angry with you and they want to get rid of you. That is a strange place.”
“So I went and talked to him, to Vahap Bey. You are tired, Bulut Bey, Vahap said. Maybe you need a break from this job. No, I am not tired, I said. I was waiting for what he would say. If I was going to leave, I wanted him to sack me. Because that way, I would get three months extra pay, severance pay.”
“I realized that he was sacking me. I said to myself, OK, Bulut Bey, you have done it. You have made it now, for the extra pay, and I could walk away and collect the money.”
In this way, Jed realized that Bulut Bey had indeed been sacked from his job, but Bulut Bey made it seem like he was heroic in getting the sack from Vahap Bey. He claimed that they were just jealous of his fabulous performance and so could not tolerate having such a genius around.
“The others are crazy too,” he said. “They are psychopaths. I tell you, I wanted to get out of there.”
“Jed, I want you to come here. You can make a contribution to the university. You can teach a lot of classes. There is no need for you to stay over there in that shithole. The Rector is away now. So I am the acting Rector. We can offer you a contract. I have to talk to the officers to fix it up. Then we will make the contract in about a month I guess. Your salary will be the same as over there at MCU. Five thousand a month. And they will find you a lojman. We can do that. I have to talk to someone about it.”
“That will be great,” Jed said. He thought that it sounded too good to be true. It was the first time that anyone had asked him to come specifically to offer him a job. To offer him a contract beginning in the middle of the year. It was clear that it was just another business model university. But there seemed to be more flexibility. The school was just starting up. There were only four or five students in each class and so it would be easy duty, at least for the time being. He would have a lot of time to write and work on projects. That was what he was thinking. If it was good, he could stay on at least another year.
He and his wife said their thanks to Bulut Bey. Both had to give him the normal collegial kisses on both cheeks in parting. Saying their goodbyes, they went down the steps in the back to the parking lot.
Jed was happy and feeling really good about the situation.
“That is really good,” he said to Zeynep. “Fuck that other place. I will give my resignation at the end of December and be out of there. They will not know that I am leaving until I just give them the resignation one month before the end of the semester.”
He got back on the road with his wife. They drove back along the boring road through the trashed fields and up over the mountains. Back in his place, he went up the hill to the university, being a little late. No one usually checked in the middle of the day and so he could slip into his office without being noticed.
“Let them sack me, who cares,” he thought, “why should I care? I have another job now and so now do not have to be so worried about what is going to happen. This is an ace up my sleeve that no one here needs to know about.”
Jed’s attitude had changed considerably, but he did not let anyone at the university know that he was thinking to leave in the middle of the year. He thought if he did, they would start to treat him like shit. He wanted to keep some appearance that he might stay longer than one year. But in his heart he knew that he could not really do it. It gave a giant boost to his morale to know that he was a short-timer for this phony-baloney university.
He calculated it in his mind. If he was going to start the new job on the first of February, then he would have to resign in the last days of December. He was not going to resign, however, until he had the new contract signed and under his belt. That was for sure.
Now he felt quite free.
Mid-term exams were coming up. Jed went a few days ahead of time to get his exams copied. He was afraid of the big rush at the copy center when all of the instructors started coming. The copy center was a busy place on the campus. Students got almost all of their study materials here and they were almost all photocopied chapters from textbooks. When they opened the doors of the place, students rushed in. The students stood five or six deep all bunched up with no lines in the crowded entry. All of the copies of lesson materials had been scanned and kept on computer. When a student asked for a certain lesson, the computer sent it to the copy machine and it was printed out.
It didn’t take Jed long to understand that the university was just minting money in this operation. Only a few instructors had actually ordered copies of published textbooks. These were sold in the copy center also. Almost all were just having their textbook photocopied and pedaled illegally by the university. It was a massive infraction of intellectual property rights and perpetrated by the university.
Jed suddenly realized why he had not seen any textbooks in the big bookstore down town. The university would rather do it themselves and keep the profits. There were several big copy machines in the space in the back that kept running continuously and pumping out photocopies.
It was fairly easy to make the copies of his exam. He stuffed them into his bag and made the notation of number of copies in the log book.
Not only the textbooks but the assignments were sometimes copied too. If a student did the homework, he would just make several copies and distribute it to other students to hand in for credit. Jed had received several of such copied works and declined to give any credit for them. All of them were just copied from his textbook anyway. It was pretty likely that the students were not even aware of what they were writing.
If they actually did the work, he would give them some credit for homework. At least they were moving their hand even if they were watching a soap opera when they did the copying. This was what one student had confessed to him, when he asked.
After the meeting with Bulut Bey, a strange thing happened. Jed kept waiting for Bulut Bey to call him back to Samos to sign the contract. But he didn’t hear anything. Several times, he tried to call him, but he could not be reached. Six weeks passed, then two months. He didn’t know what had happened and started thinking that he was going to be at the university for another semester. Something serious had happened to Bulut Bey.
It was getting late in the semester when Jed finally reached him. Bulut Bey told him that he had to go to Myopia for a heart operation and that was why he could not be reached.
“Everything turned out OK,” he said. “They fixed me up better than new. But I have to take rest for a while, so I am not doing very much. We will meet and sign the contract,” he assured him.
“I want to make you the director of the graduate school,” he told Jed. “You will get in touch with graduate schools in the US and we will recruit students here. I want to build up a good graduate school. That is my plan.”
The plan did not sound terribly plausible to Jed. He saw himself forever writing letters and sending emails to university officials in the US and being unable to convince them that anything of importance was going on here. Some might even be hostile to a university on the island. So it put him in some doubt. Nevertheless, it cheered him up considerably when he established contact with him again. He would wait and see.
Meanwhile, he was making good progress on his political economy text. He had collected most of the information that he needed. Now it was just a matter of writing the chapters and getting them into shape. Things were looking fine as the semester began to wind down. He would be rescued just as soon as he could sign that contract offered by Bulut Bey. He would make his great escape from MCU.
Chapter Thirty: Citizen Jed
Jed was having a tough time arranging to show films in his class at Deniz University. The university refused to buy more computers and projectors for the classes. Instead, they asked the professors to provide their own. Jed thought this was unethical. After all, the university was charging tuition from the students, so why should the faculty have to provide the audio-visual equipment? Either be a real university, he thought, or get out of the business.
It was a day when he had been frustrated by not being able to do a project in his class in the morning, because there was no computer available. Finally, he gave it up and just sent the students home. After the morning class, he was handed a notice that the Rector wished to see him in his office in the afternoon. He thought that he might possibly have done something wrong and be in some sort of trouble for sending the students out of the class early. So it was with a little trepidation that he waited for the appointment in the afternoon.
The Rector was just getting off the phone. He was ushered into his office and asked to sit down in one of the two chairs on the opposite of the big desk. The Rector was wearing his normal stone-faced expression, that of a dull electrical engineer, as he turned his attention to the matter with Jed. He was not known for breaking news gently.
He spotted Jed. Invited him to sit down and said in a rather dead-pan voice, “We just found out you are illegal.” Jed was rather stunned by the word illegal. What could it possibly mean?
“Illegal? Why?” Jed asked.
The Rector seemed at a loss as to how to explain it. He clearly didn’t understand it very well, himself.
“The officials from the Higher Education Council (CRAP) have been here all week,” he began, “going through your records. You became a professor as an American citizen. Now you have also become a citizen of Aslanistan. Now it is the Aslanistan law that applies. To be a professor, you have to go through the procedures for Aslanistan citizens.”
“But I became a professor in Aslanistan under the rules of the Higher Education Council,” Jed reminded the Rector. “I have worked as a full professor in Aslanisitan for thirteen years.”
“Yes, but you became a professor as an American,” the Rector said. “We’ll have to make you an assistant professor.”
Jed was floored. What the fuck? What in Christ’s name did one’s fucking citizenship have to do with being a professor? If one became a professor, he should continue being a professor regardless of where he taught or whether his citizenship changed. His citizenship had not changed anyway. He had just added Aslanistan citizenship. He was still an American citizen.
“If you want to work here, you will have to apply for the position as an Aslanistan citizen,” the Rector said. Then he realized that that would not be possible. First one would have to go through all the steps to become a professor in Aslanistan as a citizen of Aslanistan. That was a long road indeed. The Higher Education Council bureaucracy had set up a system in which one must get every degree from a foreign university certified by the Council (CRAP). It could not be done at once. Many documents had to be translated and notarized and submitted for each degree and then once one degree was approved, one could more on to the next degree. It would take months, maybe more than a year. It would take longer. That would only certify him as an assistant professor. The professorship involved far more bureaucracy, jury panels of professors, oral examinations and such. One was looking not at months but years. Jed was about to lose his job because of a bureaucratic technicality. How could such a thing happen?
“You better just drop that Aslanistan citizenship,” the Rector said. “That way you can keep working as a Professor in Aslanistan. Why be an Aslanistan citizen?”
Apparently being an American citizen in Aslanistan was just fine with CRAP. But once one became a citizen of Aslanistan as well, one was in deep shit.
“What about my retirement.” Jed said. “And I would like to be able to own a house in Aslanistan without going through all the bureaucracy for foreigners. I became a citizen of Aslanistan because I thought there would be some advantage to being a citizen of the country where one lived.”
“Well, that’s the situation,” the Rector said. “We will list you as an assistant professor. Your pay will be less. We have been paying you at the wrong rate, but we will not make you pay it back.”
That meant that Singer would lose almost half of his salary. He would also lose credit for all the research and publications and teaching he had done over a twenty-five year period.
Jed left the Rector’s office stunned. He had not imagined such a thing. How could it be right? How could it even be legal? Why him? Surely he had published more than almost anyone in the university, except perhaps for that Russian mathematician from Azerbaijan. And now he was being essentially shit-canned from the university.
He left the university with a heavy heart. He thought of a solution. This meant that not only could he not teach in this university, but in any university in the country as the same rules applied to every university. As a result of becoming a citizen of Aslanistan, he was being kicked out of Aslanistan, that is, if he wanted to carry on his profession as a professor.
He drove home and discussed it with his wife. She still had some connections in the country. Perhaps they could gain some assistance from somebody in politics. But then, the government in power only wanted to help those who were religiously oriented.
It was very curious indeed. Jed and his wife began to suspect that that there might be more behind it than appeared. Jed remembered that Dean Odun had spouted about how he had close connections with the people in the Higher Education Council. He had seen the CRAP goons in black suits creeping around the offices for the three days. The rector said they had spent many hours poring through his file. Why were they so interested in him? If there were additional requirements after becoming a citizen of Aslanistan, then why wouldn’t he be allowed to continue in the same position while the red tape for the educational bureaucracy ground through its multiple wheels? That could take years, but he was being severely punished for, of all things, merely becoming a citizen of the country. How could one legitimately be punished for that?
Jed and his wife began to suspect that the whole thing was a plot by the Dean, Odun, to get him out of the university on a technicality. There was no proof of this, but it all smelled very suspicious.
His wife knew a politician that she could write to. It was a long shot, but perhaps he could hold his position and not lose so much of his salary.
Jed felt crushed. He had invested so much over the years in his career and in teaching and living in Aslanistan and now it seemed that he was being blocked from teaching at all. Jed refused to believe that this was correct and that there was no solution to something so absurd.
A few days later, Jed was asked to see the Rector again. When he entered the office and sat down, the Rector turned to the matter.
“Forget about that being an assistant professor,” he said. “You will be a part timer.” This meant that his salary would be cut further to an hourly basis. This would give him hardly enough to live on. Yes, that was all he was qualified for now, according to the Higher Education Council. Jed was getting beyond being crushed. Now his mood was turning toward anger. There must be some limit to how badly one could be shit upon.
Meanwhile, a letter went out to the politician. Things went on as usual, but somehow it seemed that the Rector was under pressure to do something.
After a month, Jed was called into the Rector’s office again. Was this something like a final showdown? This time, the Rector had brought his adviser, a lawyer. Jed was given the instructions of how one was to become a professor under the laws of Aslanistan. But he was a long way from even starting that process.
They advised him to send his documents to CRAP to see what they would say. However, it was ninety percent sure that they would not approve his professorship, according to the Rector. The reason was that he had become an associate professor in Chaos, which they controlled, but did not approve. It did not matter that he had become a professor in Aslanistan under the rules of CRAP.
Even though the Rector’s adviser was a lawyer, he could not be certain, or said he could not be certain whether he was actually legally a professor or not. But the rules seemed to say he was. But for the university, this seemed not to matter.
Jed protested. “This is crazy,” he said. “This cannot happen legitimately in any civilized country. What has citizenship got to do with being a professor? How can one lose one’s professorship by becoming a citizen of that country?”
When the session was over, the lawyer seemed sympathetic, but warned that it was a lost cause. “If you go to court, you will win,” he said. “But nothing is going to happen. Even if you sit in front of this university and burn yourself in protest, nothing is going to happen.”
How did he know that? Jed thought. He seemed to be saying that the fix was in and that he was out. He represented the university, not Jed. So his job was to convey the information to Professor Singer that the jig was up for him. He could go on as a part timer, or walk away. That was all. If he wanted to teach, look for another country.
Jed’s colleagues said they were sorry it had happened. They did not understand it either and they knew of no other such case. Probably there had never been one. There are not many Americans who are crazy enough to become citizens of Aslanistan, after all. Other Americans would probably think that it was good enough for him for being so foolish.
Nevertheless, things went on. He taught his classes. One day there was a message from the Human Resources Department. Apparently the politician had contacted the CRAP bureaucracy and they had backed down. Jed was still a professor, at least for the year. Jed was happy to hear this, but the Rector warned him that he would not be given a contract for the coming year.
Why not, Jed wondered, if he was still a professor. Again the situation did not smell right.
Meanwhile, the Dean had removed Jed’s responsibility of signing documents which a full professor was supposed to sign. When Jed asked him why, one day, he said “Now you are a part timer.”
“No,” Jed said, “I have been told that I will be a professor until the end of my contract.”
Abdurrezzak Bey glared at him, turning somewhat red in the face. He had not liked what he had heard. He picked up the phone and dialed up some office. It was clear that he was checking to see if it was true. He put the receiver back dejected. Some son of a bitch had intervened. Who could that be? He was the politician. He should be calling the shots.
This event was further evidence for Jed that Odun was behind the whole thing. He would have to put up with him for another semester, but that would be it.
Jed had spent weeks collecting his documents. He took them with his wife and had them translated and notarized. The cost came to hundreds of dollars. He organized them to send them off. He clearly overestimated the efficiencies of the Aslanistan bureaucracy. Finally, he packed them all up in a big box and shipped them to the capital by private carrier. Hell, they want documents. I’ll give them documents. I’ll bury them in documents, he thought. They will not dare to turn me down, from the University of California. That’s what he thought.
Chapter Thirty-One: Back to High School
Two days later, Jed’s big box of documents bounced back at his expense. He was dunned for the postage again. A notice stated that the certificates had to be approved one by one, and could not be sent together in one package. He kicked himself for supposing that it would be that easy. He began to prepare the packet of documents to get the equivalence for his Bachelor’s Degree. As far as he knew this would be the first step.
He could not have been more wrong. In a few days he received another letter from CRAP. He was beginning to understand why the word CRAP described the bureaucracy. The answer kept coming back “no.”
The new letter asked: “Where is your high school diploma?”
Jed was a little shocked. High school diploma? They wanted that? After he had been a full professor for thirteen years? It made him not a little angry. He felt like giving it up completely, telling them to get fucked, and hang it up all together not to have to put up any more with such a fucking bunch of piss ant bureaucrats. But what the fuck could he do. They had essentially blocked all avenues. There was not much choice except to try something. Infuriating as it was, there was not much choice. He laughed about. It was a big joke. But the motherfuckers were dead fucking serious.
He knew sure as hell, he did not have his high school diploma. That was fifty years ago and he had lost track of that piece of paper God knows how many years ago. So he called up his old high school in America and asked if it was possible to get a new diploma. They told him that it was not possible, but they could send a transcript. That was the best they could do. Well, it would have to do, if it was at all possible.
A couple of weeks later, the high school transcript arrived. He went with his wife and got it translated. Then it had to be notarized along with the transcript. A lot of leg work and expense. The next step was to locate the local governor’s office. He would have to ask them to approve the document and issue him a statement that it was equivalent to getting a high school diploma in Aslanistan.
Sure a fucking nuff, he was going through his goddam life again just as if he had been born a frigging citizen of Aslanistan and started out as an Aslanistanian from day one. Even his Aslanistanian official identification card stated that his official birth place was in Aslanistan. Talk about reincarnation?
They located the governor’s office and presented the document. There were just a few more copies and documents and pictures that were required. Gathering them up they managed to submit the application. They were asked to check back in ten days or so.
Jed felt like his heart had hit rock bottom as he nursed a beer across from the big building that housed the Governor’s office. Would they accept that shit from an American high school. He wondered if any other American had even been foolish enough to go through this shit. What the hell. It was just another adventure in his convoluted life in which he had passed through the bureaucracies of a string of countries.
Another trip to the Governor’s office yielded another wait, while the document was passed around from desk to desk, signed by various officials, taken off to another floor of the building. Duly, after an hour’s wait, the document was ready. Just after paying the requisite fee, it was delivered into his hands. He was now an official high school graduate in Aslanistan. As a citizen of Aslanistan, he felt a little good about that. Something worked. But when he thought of the long road ahead, he realized his folly. He was running out his life with these soulless bureaucrats, whose life had been squeezed out years ago. Now they sat, hollow shells, propped behind their desks, waiting for the careers to end and be put out to pasture. The drivel of their arid lives had turned them into misanthropes. One could see the gut hatred in their eyes for those who walked into the office, from the other world outside, who were not tethered behind a desk for thirty fucking years.
With all the faith he could muster. Jed sent off his translated and notarized documents for the Bachelor’s Degree equivalence. In about a month another letter appeared in a tacky, yellow manila government office envelope. It was official. The document asked for another document, a letter from his university stating that his major had been Physics.
Jesus! Jed thought. What the fuck! Now I am going after another letter from the US, even though the diploma, official transcript and all is there, duly translated and notarized. Fuck, it, he thought. This shit is not working and I am tired of playing these stupid fucking games. I’ll see if they actually have the balls to throw me out of my job simply as a result of becoming a citizen of the same country. They had the balls.
He taught his classes. Wrote lectures. The new course he was teaching was European Political History. Writing the lectures was quite easy, and one could go through the material easily, fitting it into a historical context. He could flesh out the dry bone outline of the text. He found it rather interesting and actually learned some things he had not known previously. The questions for each lesson was given in the text, as multiple choice questions. To make it straight-forward for the students, he had decided to use the same questions on the examinations. It was a big class, but not everybody attended.
In behavioral science, he took another tactic. Since the lessons went for three hours, he would break the pace in the last hour. The students got bored by that time anyway. How could their attention span stretch that long, listening to a lecture in a foreign language.
The last period would be “Catlak Saat,” crazy hour. He would teach them some songs. He would teach them some old songs that had been used by workers to ridicule work and the capitalist system. One of these was “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum.” Another was “Pie in the Sky,” the old song written by Joe Hill. “Work and pray, live on hay. You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.” It was a great song and something the students could like. And they could get the idea.
Chapter Thirty-Two: The Espionage
It was late December. Heavy rain clouds clung to the high mountains which rose behind the MCU Campus. By half past four darkness had fallen. On bright days, the sun was warming in the small squares of the university. The shimmering blue expanse of the Mediterranean lay opposite the mountains but sometimes the winds from the north were cold and damp.
It was getting close to the end of the semester. Classes would be finished in another three weeks. Professor Singer had worked hard with the political economy class. It was tough sledding as he had to start from such a low level. There was hardly anyone in the class who had heard of even Adam Smith or Milton Friedman. He had to go through the essentials. Nevertheless, he was enjoying the class as he organized the material for his new textbook.
There were a handful of better students who were starting to get into the class, studying and learning. They read and struggled to grasp the concepts. There was another group that had some interest in the class but simply lacked the language skills to read and understand the textbook. Others, not accustomed to attempting to understand the material, never got into the class to begin with. They memorized a few cut and dried facts to pass their classes and promptly forgot them. Seeing that the class required some actual learning and intellectual effort, they came to sign the attendance list and let it go at that. If they passed the class, it would not be through their own efforts.
Those who made some effort were advancing and learning. When some students complained bitterly that they did not understand many of the economic and political terms and could not understand the explanations on the internet, Dr. Singer had decided that he would write a simplified textbook that would be useful for students like them. That had been his main project for the semester, in addition to teaching the classes. Most of the history of economic ideas was old stuff to him, but he had to organize and systematize it. This helped him in teaching the class. He thought that once the textbook was published, it would serve future crops of students.
The class began at twelve noon. Jed didn’t like the awkward time but got used to it. Some students skipped the first hour to appear at one o’clock. In fact, students came and left at any and all times in the classes in this university. There was not much respect for the instructors, in that sense.
To keep the lectures simple, he organized the material on the board in a few core principles in each lesson. This required that he reorganize and simplify his old notes that he had used for years. It actually helped him understand the core principles better, himself. It was absurd, in his view to demand that the students’ attention span extend for the full three hours of the lecture. He would give them a good break, but the last half hour of the class was not useful for anything but answering some questions and rehashing the material. By this time at least two-thirds of the class had already fled the lecture. The main objective of a third of the class was to simply get their name on the attendance list. That would give them a small boost in their grade.
There were a handful of hard working students from Aslanistan. The rest of the serious students were from Nigeria. The students from Chaos did not seem willing to work. The good students contributed to the class by asking questions. Jed could not see into their heads to see what they were confused about and what they had not understood. Indeed, did economists understand what they were writing about? It was hard for them to understand the proposition that economists did not agree on anything. “If you laid all economists end to end, they would all be pointing in different directions,” he told them. Billed as an objective science, ideology was always hidden in the approach.
Part of the effort was to get the students to think in terms of political economy. Economics as taught in universities was not linked in any meaningful way to real life. Few students had any concept of political theory. They had no understanding of what was left, center, or right in politics. Lacking such background, how could they understand political economy?
The second week, some of the large group of students from the economics department had gone to the dean and complained to him that Dr. Singer was bringing too much politics into the class.
When the Dean asked Jed about it, he said, “well, the course is global political economy. Not just global economy. So it naturally involves politics. If they stay in the class and do the work, they will eventually start to understand and see the light.”
The Dean gave him a suspicious look. He did not seem convinced. His major work had been studies of how merchandising chains in the USA sold products. He was a business jock. Bringing in politics was likely to just fuck up their minds, he seemed to think. After all, according to the university website, the mission of the university was to prepare the students for the corporate world. If they really began to understand global economy, it is certain that some of them would be likely to flee as far as possible from the corporate world. They would only be prepared to criticize it.
Jed saw the Dean’s visit to his office as more of a complaint than an inquiry. A warning, perhaps, not to bring politics and ideology into the class. Just cool it. Process them through without messing with their minds. It happened just after the meeting when Jed had told the Dean that he thought his attitude was wrong to just accept the dictate from the university authorities and plead that there was nothing that could be done about it. This must had rankled Satilmis Bey.
At the same meeting the Dean announced that he would be off the next week for a conference in India. Oh well, at least some people get money to go to a conference here, Jed thought. I wonder how he managed that?
It was when the Dean returned from India that he showed up at Jed’s office and told him what the economic students had said. He seemed to be warning him that what the students wanted carried more weight than how he wanted to teach the class. Jed was friendly about it but took it as a warning. He had already determined not to make any more requests after being turned down the first time.
It turned out that the so-called conference was actually not an academic conference, but a convention of private business model universities. Satilmis went with another older member of the faculty to receive an award on behalf of the university. It was announced on a site on the internet that MCU was one of the top one-hundred business schools in the world. Either top one-hundred or one-thousand. It wasn’t quite clear as sometimes some of the zeros seemed to just disappear. But Jed was amused to see it. He also understood something more about Satilmis Bay. It seemed that he might be angling to join the administration which was more important to him than looking after the needs of the faculty. Perhaps he would soon be driving his Mercedes like the other Chaosarians.
Still, it bothered Jed that the students had gone to the Dean about how he was teaching the class, when it was just getting underway. Were students now supposed to determine how the classes were taught? They had not heard anything about politics in business classes and it confused them to hear anything about it now. Most of them were actually business students. Clearly if they had taken a class in politics they had not learned enough to understand the concepts. How could they understand how they were related to economics?
Dr. Singer finished the lecture and reviewed the material by half past two. Most of the class had left after the break. Only a small group of students remained. He was knocking out the material at the rate of a chapter a week and would soon be at the end. He was satisfied that he had done a good job in teaching the class, even learning something himself in working on the textbook. Most of the students seemed to appreciate his efforts. He tried to get them to talk and ask questions, but it was difficult except for a couple of the bright students. The women students from Nigeria asked the most questions.
Dismissing the class, he returned to his office and worked on a chapter of his global political economy textbook, which he aimed to get published by the next academic year. He was now working on this more intensely, using the dead hours that he was forced to spend in his small corner of a dull office.
It was a little after four. Jed had perked himself up with hot tea from the small stand in the Einstein Complex after the class to keep the sleepiness at bay. He had plunged into another chapter of his textbook project. Suddenly, Fatima Hanum, the department secretary appeared at his door.
“Someone just came from the administration,” she told him. “They said that they checked your classroom at the end of the period and you were not in the classroom.” It seemed that she did not take it as anything out of the ordinary, just one of her routine tasks.
This was a university where full professors past retirement age received warnings from the secretary of the faculty.
“Well, I finished the material,” Jed said. “So I ended the class.”
“They want you to write a report explaining why you were not in the classroom at the end of the period,” the secretary said.
“Who was this?” Jed asked. “Why are they sending you to me? If they have something to say to me why don’t they just come and say it to me directly. Is it your job to do that kind of work for them?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “But that is what they do. They want you to write an explanation.”
Jed was suddenly outraged. There were few things that could have made him more angry than that.
“No, I’m sorry,” Jed said. “I would never do such a thing.”
They would not push him over the edge. He would not be pushed to finally give up all of his principles on behalf of the business model.
“Oh you just have to write a small letter,” she said. “You are not the only one. This happens all the time to people in the department.”
“Well, not to me. I am sorry,” Professor Singer said. “I cannot do that. And I don’t see why you should have to do this for them. It is not your job as the secretary it seems to me. They should not be making you do this sort of thing.”
Perhaps she agreed, but every employee in the university was muzzled by the rules of the business model and could not say anything. She knew that. She knew the rules. It was Vahap Bey’s way or the highway. That’s what it said in the contract. Shut up or get out. Or get kicked out. Simple as that.
That was the business model formula.
The secretary gave up. Jed was abandoned to his stubborn ways.
Jed had halfway expected that those assholes might hit him that way. It was a preemptive strike. Wasn’t there enough harassment already without starting this? He knew that it happened to other members of the department, but they were young faculty members just starting out. Several of them had written letters explaining why they had left the classroom before the end of the period. Some of them had even had their pay docked for leaving early, a quarter of an hour or some such nonsense. It was something no instructor should have to put up with. Obviously these university officials who saw themselves as business managers had no clue as to how classes worked. They did not know how to teach a subject like political economy to students who were lacking in language skills. Who are they to question the way I teach the class? he thought, when I have been teaching it to such students for more than twenty-five years. If they do not think that I know how to teach the class, then why did they hire me? He felt like telling them to “leave me the fuck alone and let me teach the classes, or fire my ass at once and let me get out of this shit hole.” As he had told the Dean in that first meeting, they act like I don’t know when to come to class and when to leave class. Who are they to treat me like an idiot? He had long ago decided that he would not take such shit if they ever came to throw it at him. Do they think that how much the students learn depends upon how long the instructor is in the classroom. It was obvious they cared nothing about learning. It was just harassment by those running he business model, pure and simple. They thought they were being big bosses and smart.
Now these officials running the business model university had shown that they were just as stupid as he suspected that they might be. It was a stupid insult to his credibility as a professor. He was not going to make excuses for doing his job in the best way he knew how. There was no way the attention span of the students could be stretched to three fucking hours. He knew that some instructors had resorted to long breaks to stretch out the time and avoid the sleuths that might spy into his class at the end of the period and save their pay. Jesus Christ, he thought. This is the time-punch system with a vengeance. He wanted to tell them, why don’t you just put a time-punch machine in down by the door and make the place into a fucking factory. You want to treat us worse than factory employees. You really want to screw us to the wall. What is this business model academic Taylorism? This business model is one hell of a way to make sausages or McDegrees.
It would be easy and simple to just lie and say he was not feeling well and had to stop teaching. That would fit perfectly well with the business model. Most of business was about lying, anyway, he reflected. In the culture, lying was the normal way of sliding through the day. So the shit-eating hypocrisy sprouted and flourished like Mississippi Kudzu fines. It would simply shock their pants off to meet someone who stood by an honest principle. Why should he let these business jocks force him to lie to keep his job?
It was their job as business managers to lie. That is how they kept the profits up under the capitalist and corporate system.
It was his job as a professor to tell the truth. That’s the way he saw it. People had to trust that he was a person with integrity.
If one could not work in the place and tell the truth at the same time, then it was time that he got out.
Something needed to be done about these slimy pricks that slithered around the university harassing the academic staff.
If they are really concerned with pedagogy, then I will be happy to let them come and monitor my class, he thought. But come from the beginning and stay until the end. They are welcome, if they have the knowledge and analytical skills to actually evaluate my lessons in a professional way. This sneaking around and spying on the professors at the end of the lesson with no clue about what goes on or if the students even come is tacky. It is unprofessional.
Why don’t you check my publication record, you son of a bitch, if you think I have not been working, he wanted to tell them. Let me compare it to yours, you piss ant, he wanted to say. Why are they being so fucking tacky with their fucking business model. I would have thought they might come up with something more professional even if they had to plagiarize it off the internet as they had cribbed everything else in this make-believe university.
They could just keep their greedy fucking asses over in the administration part and keep milking students. But they should leave serious scholars like him the fuck alone. He was not plagiarizing his writing like Vahap Bey.
The more he thought about it, the angrier it made him. They had sprung a trap in which he might be caught if not careful. If he wrote the letter, then it would go into his file and they would start building a case to sack him anytime they wanted. He would have signed off on his guilt and admitted that he was caught red-handed doing something wrong. If he did not write the letter, then by the same token, it would be even stronger grounds for sacking him. He would be disobeying the demands of the business model that he grovel in front of the honchos with his nose on the ground and kowtowing to the Lords of the Business Model. Whatever else it was, the business model was shitty. The shittiest behavior he had yet observed in his entire academic career. They had enshrined their cheap tacky behavior in their business model.
Why did they insist upon browbeating the faculty? Why were they engaging in psychological torture? He had spent the semester working hard, working around the chicken-shit rules of the business model university. And now all they knew how to do was to intimidate him and put him under more psychological pressure.
They can get by with this only because the staff is so docile, he considered. If they refused it, then it could not go on. They would have no staff left. He could only speak for himself. He for one would not put up with it. There comes a time when a man has to be a man and not a salamander for the business model.
He was so angry that Jed feared what he might do if he did not get out of there. He wanted to rush up to wimpy Bey, the Dean, and have it out with him. He would just make a fool of himself and probably not be able to control his cool. He would not be able to hold off on that shit eating rat fink. He was too angry for that. He would like to find the person who spied on him and have it out with this person. That too would just reflect badly on him and get his ass canned. He had to protect himself from himself.
The only way was to get the fuck off the campus as quickly as possible and cool off someplace else. Jed quickly packed up his computer and left. Fuck ‘em all, he thought. He was finished with them.
This fucking business model was driving him straight up the wall. Whatever the hell it was, it was not for him. He faced a stark choice. His self-respect and dignity as a human being or the fucking business model. There was no way one could have both. He refused to crawl on his belly as the Lords of the Business Model demanded.
Chapter Thirty-Three: Take This Job and Shove it
Having saved himself from exploding, Jed thought about the situation in the evening after he had cooled off. He discussed it with Zeynep. He had been planning to resign toward the end of December to take the job at the other university he had been offered. This presented a good opportunity for him to just go ahead and resign and get it over with.
He would write the letter and take it to Satilmis Bey first thing tomorrow morning. He looked on the website of the faculty to make sure of how to spell his name. Then he noticed a funny thing. His picture, CV and every trace of him had disappeared from the website.
Maybe I have already been sacked, he thought. And this preemptive strike was just for the purpose of setting up the pretext for shit-canning my ass. Why else would my picture have just disappeared like that when everyone else on the faculty was still there? It nailed the whole thing down for him. If he did not resign at once, then he would get the letter in ten days or sooner telling him he was sacked. He would make a preemptive strike on them and resign before they had the chance to sack him. Hell, he might even find the letter on his desk when he went the next morning, having refused the secretary. She had surely reported what he had said. His ass was clearly in a sling. His ass was in a bind. No time to lose.
You can’t fire me, son of a bitch. I quit. Just take this job and shove it. It was a “take this job and shove it” moment for sure.
Of course, if his friend at the other university did not come through with the job he had offered, then he would be fucked. He would be good and fucked. But no matter. He had to take the chance. He had to jump off into the wild unknown. The matter had slipped out of his hands.
He began to formulate the letter in his mind. If everyone they hit did this, he thought, they could not get by with their harassment. They would just be gone and they would stand to lose too many staff members. This was way below his dignity. He could not tolerate it. Perhaps it was foolish but his self-respect would not let him grovel in front of the business model Moguls. The little Assholes! Assholes with a capital A.
He slept soundly, having resolved what to do. One way or another he would not be around this university after the end of the semester. He got up early and wrote the letter. He went through three of four drafts. He would not abuse them. He would be straightforward and dignified, but firm. He would tell them exactly what he thought.
He printed out several copies of the letter, put one in an envelope and addressed it to the Dean.
Professor Satilmis Kasapoglu, Dean, Faculty of Business and Economics, Midas Celestial University
Dear Professor Kasapoglu,
This is to inform you that I will be resigning my position from Midas Celestial University effective at the end of the semester.
Yesterday a university official complained to the secretary, saying that I had left the class early after completing the material and finishing the lecture.
I have been teaching for more than thirty years and this is the first time I have witnessed such behavior. In my experience effective teaching is not measured by the length of time of the class. It appears to me that the university does not believe in my competence to teach the class. As an academic, I see this as an insult to my teaching career.
I do not wish to teach in an institution which insults an experienced and accomplished academic in such an insulting manner. To remain at the university for the remainder of my contract would be very psychologically stressful from now on after this sort of harassment. I cannot understand what the university hopes to gain by keeping the morale of its staff at rock bottom.
While teaching at MCU, I published two books with the name of the University on them. I now regret this, and will not include the name of the university on any further publications.
I thank you for the opportunity to teach for one semester at MCU.
Sincerely, Prof. Dr. Jed Singer
Maybe I could be bought, Jed thought. But my price is considerably higher than the measly salary and miserable conditions in a Mickey Mouse make-believe university. Midas Celestial, my ass! Did they mean Mid-Ass Celestial? They were trying to fuck him right up his mid ass. Who were they anyway? They were scared shitless that the truth was going to get out about what kind of university it was. Their reputation had already hit rock-bottom in Chaos. The worst of the worst universities on the island.
Jed drove to the university. He did not go to his office, thinking there might already be a letter there sacking him. He walked directly up to the Dean’s office and gave him his resignation letter.
“I am giving you my resignation letter,” Jed said.
“Oh, OK,” Satilmis Bey said. “Are you going to be able to stay for the rest of the semester?”
“Oh, sure. I will stay and finish up the semester,” Jed said. “It would not be fair to you or the students to leave in the middle of the semester.”
The Dean thanked him for that. Jed knew that it was not uncommon for people to resign right in the middle of the semester without even bothering to read their exams.
“Well, I wish you well,” Satilmis bey lied. “Do you have another place to go?”
Jed thought he might have but was not going to tell the Dean.
“Oh, we have some income. So we can make it OK, even if I do not work,” Jed said. “We are OK.”
“Oh, well that’s good,” Satilmis said.
“I am sorry I could not stay the whole year,” Jed said, lying. He was thrilled as a pig in shit that he was going to be getting out of the dipshit place.
“I really couldn’t take the way they came around to spy on my class. I mean, if they want to monitor my class, then they are welcome. But let them come for the whole class from the beginning and evaluate whether I can teach the material or not. But they have to have the expertise to be able to evaluate it competently. I just do not believe that this sort of behavior demonstrates any degree of professionalism. Why should the faculty be treated like shit?”
“Oh, they do it to everybody,” Satilmis said. “You are not the first one. That is just the way they run the university.”
“Well, they don’t do it to me,” Jed said. “They will not have a chance to do it to me again.”
“Oh some people don’t come to class at all,” the Dean said. “And some just come and teach for one hour and leave. So that is why they do it.”
“Well, if they have some evidence that I am not doing my job, then they should either tell me or sack me. They hired me. I have been teaching this course for many years in much better universities than this one.”
“And another thing. I want to say that I think it is completely unethical and an abuse of human rights to load people up with courses the way they do here. Some people have more than twenty hours. My load is somewhat less, but it is still seven classes as some of them are combined. There is no way that one can really teach that many hours.”
“Oh sometimes people just go completely berserk and start screaming,” the Dean said. “There are a lot of people that just come and give me their resignations right in the middle of the semester and walk out of the university. They cannot take it.”
“Well, I think it is completely unethical,” Jed said.
“Well, I can agree with you, as I worked in universities in the US and Canada,” he said. “But here it is different. I have to say that I also thought of resigning the first year that I was here. But then I did not want to go back to the US or Canada. So I didn’t have any choice. I had to stay and put up with it. I hope it will not always be like this.”
“Well, I wish you well.” Jed said. “Anyway, I am not leaving at once. I will be around till the end of the semester.”
A major part of the problem seemed to be Vahap Bey, who his friend called a psychopath. With him running the university, things were only likely to get worse.
Jed figured that his letter that he had written criticizing the university would never find its way into the official files. They would likely substitute a letter saying that he was sacked. That would cover them. But then maybe it would not be a false step according to the business model. If anyone demonstrated a spark of honesty, integrity or principle, they were clearly dangerous to have around in the business model.
Jed walked out of the Dean’s office and drove back to his apartment. He felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from his chest. He felt light as a feather.
Chapter Thirty-Four: The Right Thing
After giving his resignation, Jed forgot about his worries and slept soundly. He felt that he was somehow free from an awful burden that had been dragging him down into the pits of hell. But sometimes he wondered if he had done the right thing. He had decided to take a chance and jump the gun and resign before any contract had been signed for Big Bird University (BBU). Bulut Bey kept building up the job, taunting it as a done deal and Jed had no real reason to believe otherwise. He was on his way to being a Big Bird man. No doubt about that.
But what if it did not come through? What would he do then? Well, it would be a bit of a downer for sure. No shit! But it would not be the end of the world. It would simply mean going back on that fucking crowded boat in the middle of the winter with all those smelly workers and their families. It would mean going through all that pain again for little gain for only one semester. It would mean packing up all of the things they had brought and somehow getting them back to Aslanistan. That was going to take a lot of effort and if it had to be done, then he would need a few days to make the arrangements. No one was going to give him and his wife a free place to stay after the end of the month and he could not afford a hotel, even if there had been a place to put their things. He would be tossed out in the street or paying big money back to the university for a bed to sleep in.
Surely, he would not be that unlucky, Jed thought. And even if the job did not come through, perhaps he could find a spot at another university elsewhere in Chaos. Something had to give. He hated to go back and leave his application for social security hanging in mid-air and not being resolved. But his fate was in the hands of others.
In a few days, the word had spread around the department that he had resigned. Even the word got down to the students. When Jed would talk to someone who asked, they would always say “Oh, you did the right thing. I wish I could do the same thing too.”
Then Jed would feel that he had done something to retain his dignity. He had not let those assholes twist him around their finger and harass him with their business model. He had stood up to them and done what he thought everyone should do when they insulted them with their sneaking around and spying. If others did the same thing, then they would have to stop the practice. It was the only way. Any effort to deal with it democratically had been crushed in this institution. Anyway, why should he grovel before them for the teaching position in a university which was actually a joke by any reasonable standard. Surely he had not reached such depths to be reduced to doing that. There must be something respectable left in the educational enterprise even in the age of the business model.
On the other hand, these bastards were hard core. They were unforgiving sons of bitches. Their bottom line was money and power. No matter how qualified one was, the only thing that they respected was money and power. Academics was just fluff, just shit in their eyes. All bullshit. A handle on which to hang a business enterprise and milk it for all it was worth. Anybody with any principles, any morality, would be chewed up and spit out in such a system. They would be ground up like hamburger and crushed. The Chaosarians had been operating illegally. They were too illegal to have morality or principles. The young ones were too much in need of a job and income to have principles. Jed could afford to act in a more risky way as he did not have as much invested in the position. Leaving, he might keep half of what he had earned but it was not really any big deal. Just chalk it up to experience and another adventure gone haywire.
He talked to another faculty member who desired to make progress as an academic, Ozkan. But the poor guy was stuck. He wanted to go to Deniz City, but he knew that a faculty member had been sacked there for supporting a protest on Twitter. So the situation remained bleak. Things were clearly getting worse.
It was the last week of classes. Jed was just preparing to go to his evening class to wind up the course in political economy, when he received a call from Bulut Bey.
“Now, what is this?” Jed thought. “Is it going to be good news or a shock?”
“Hi Ed, this is Bulut. How are you doing?”
“Fine, how are you, Bulut Bey?”
Bulut began to beat around the Bush. Jed could see that not everything was going OK.
“Look, Jed,” he began, “I have been thinking about you working at Big Bird University. I don’t want you to have a bad experience. I have found out that there are some problems over there financially. Now these guys really do not know what they are doing. They have made me part time. I just go and do my classes and that’s all. I have talked to Chaos Universal University down in Samos and I think it will be better if you go there. I talked to the Dean and they want you. I just don’t want you to get into a problem at Big Bird University if they have financial difficulties in future.”
Jed smelled a rat at once. Somehow the job that Bulut Bey had offered had fallen through for whatever reason and now he was trying to smooth it over and get him shifted over to Chaos Universal University to cover up his mistake of offering the job and then having it fall through. Forget Big Bird. Now he would be a Chaos Universal guy.
“Oh, I see,” Jed said, “pretending to be naïve. Well, that is OK with me if they have a job at Chaos Universal then I would go there.”
Jed thought that it perhaps sounded legitimate and if there was really a job there, then it might actually be a better deal than this Big Bird outfit that always sounded like they were flying it by the seat of the pants without really having a clue as to what they were doing. After all they were in the casino business. It was taking a chance.
“I will give you the name of the Dean at Chaos Universal,” Bulut Bey said. “You should call him and send him your CV. I think they will call you. He says they want you.”
Jed said that he would do it on Monday, although he actually hated going through such things. The Dean, Servet Bey, might be an old conservative but he would give it a chance. These old guys were usually retirees, cast off from long years in a dead-beat brain-dead Aslanistan state university.
Jed saw that something had gone wrong at Big Bird University. Either they didn’t like his visa or the enterprise was not going very well. At any event, it was Chaos Universal or nothing it seemed. Shit, Jed thought. This is turning out in the worst possible way. I freed myself from MCU, but now am out of a job at the end of the month, unless this Servet professor comes through and actually hires me.
Jed had the political economy class. The students were giving their reports, so he just had to harass them a little to see if they had an idea of what they were talking about. When he went home, he broke the news to Zeynep.
“If Chaos Universal actually hires me, then maybe it is actually better. At least they have a real campus and have some lojmans.” He had looked up the campus on the internet.
“They are out in the boondocks but at least they have a supermarket there.”
Actually, the university was an enterprise spun off from the supermarket. Just another marketing scheme like a branch of a supermarket chain.
“And I was not very happy about taking that position as director of graduate school at Big Bird. Maybe here, I would just teach and that is what I like to do.”
The next week Jed called Chaos Universal University and talked to the Dean, Servet Bey. The Dean asked him to send his CV so he could look it over. Jed said he would do it the same day.
“God, he was a sour son of a bitch,” Jed thought after getting off the phone. “He is totally dead pan and not a spark of life or friendliness. Maybe he was dreading getting my phone call after he had talked with Bulut Bey.”
There was nothing Jed could do except wait. A few days later he called Servet Bey again and asked him about coming for the second semester.
“Oh yes, Professor Singer,” he began. “We have looked over your CV and we are very impressed with all your work on Asia. And you have a lot of publications too. I have showed your CV to the Rector also. But I am sorry that it is not possible to offer you a position at the present time. We never bring someone in the middle of the year. We actually have all the staff we need for the coming semester and have already assigned the courses. However, you would be welcome to apply again at the end of the academic year. We will keep your CV in our file. It is possible that an opening might come up for the next year.”
Jed thanked him, but realized that he had struck out again. The Chaos Universal prospect was as dead as Big Bird. It was no dice. What Bulut Bey had told him again turned out to be hype about a job that really did not exist. Just the same as the Big Bird job. It surprised Jed somewhat as Bulut Bey had been so positive. Or seemed so. Or was he just in the clouds again?
Jed called up Bulut Bey and told him what happened.
“Jed, I just don’t understand how these guys can do this,” he lied. “They told me that they needed you and could hire you and now they are saying this thing. Actually they did the same thing to me when I went there. They said they would hire me in the Economics Department. So I just don’t understand that place. They are strange people.”
All people seemed to be strange for Bulut Bey.
Jed began to realize just how full of shit Bulut Bey actually was.
“Don’t worry, Jed. You are going to stay here,” Bulut Bey chimed in, again sailing around in the clouds. Blowing up things which did not exist, Jed thought.
Come off it, Jed wanted to say. Get real, Bulut Bey. Who the fuck is going to hire me now in the fucking middle of the year. I think I am going to be going back to Aslanistan. He began to think about getting the ticket for the fucking boat. That was where he was heading fast.
“I think I am going to be going back to Aslanistan,” Jed said.
“No, oh No, you won’t do that,” Bulut chirped. “There are other places. There are places where you can work here. We will keep you here. Don’t worry about anything, Jed.”
But the truth was that Jed was running out of options. He was preparing to throw in the towel and make the arrangements to be on the boat on the last day of the month across the water to Turuncu. And then all that curvy mountain road back to their place. He hoped the weather would not be stormy in the winter.
The only thing he thought to do was to visit a couple of places and ask if they might be interested in hiring him for the next year. As for the gig this year, he considered that it was up. It was not worth making a fool of himself and being turned down. He felt that it was terribly insulting going from place to place with cap in hand and soliciting a job. And they were all on the business model.
“How did I get my ass in this sort of a sling?” he thought. “I was doing OK and then I hit the bottom again. I guess I made the wrong decisions but it they had not spied on my class, I would still be alive.”
On the other side of the fence, even the hell of Midas Celestial looked better. He wouldn’t mind to just settle back and work some on his manuscripts and take a rest. But now he was faced with undoing all the work that he had done to move here in September. That was terribly discouraging. It had all been in vain for the most part. One could look at it as an adventure but at this point in his life, he did not need such adventures.
Chapter Thirty-Five: Exam Chaos
The day was cloudy and cold. The mornings usually began bright, but by noon, the clouds came and then the rain. The cold winds blew in from the cold blue sea. One had to dress warmly as many of the heaters in the classrooms were out of order and made no heat. Even when they did work, they made the atmosphere foul to breathe with the dust which was blown out of the vents. It was a struggle to stay healthy. One had to eat at home to get decent food.
It was a late exam at three in the afternoon which Jed had to monitor. When he arrived from his office, chaos was about to ensue. The class was introduction to economics. The instructor had written an easy exam. Jed had to monitor it in the big auditorium that held close to eighty students. However, as students gathered, an instructor came and announced that the exam was going to be delayed for fifteen minutes. There was no reason given. However, it soon became apparent that the reason was that the instructor had failed to take the exam to the copy center in time to make the copies. The entire class now had to wait for the copy center to finish the work. That was why Jed always took his exams a few days before.
In a normal university, one would have expected the students to look over their notes during the waiting period and concentrate on the exam. But there was nothing like this happening. The students were acting like immature adolescents, acting up and shouting and yelling at each other. There was general confusion. It was almost as if there was a revolt in the process of happening.
After about twenty minutes, the instructor appeared and handed the exams to Jed. They were arranged in four different groups in an attempt to prevent students from copying. It was in vain. They would copy, even if it meant copying the wrong answers from a different version of the exam.
Jed had arranged the students in rows separated by desks. He asked them put away their cell phones and bring their books to the front of the exam hall. Now, even though he kept asking them, they refused to settle down. There were too many students in the large hall for one monitor but the other invigilator had not shown up. Jed looked around in vain and hoped that he or she would appear but there was no one.
Finally he had to yell loudly at the students and warn them, before he could begin to pass out the exams. He told them to act like university students, not high school kids. Why couldn’t they just take the exam and get it over with instead of wasting his and their time. Even this was a difficult process, as different versions of the exam had to be given to the different rows of students. There were seven rows of students, two on each of the outside desks, and three in the middle.
After getting them quietened down and shutting them up, he distributed the exams. The he had to begin the process of checking all the ID cards and exam cards. It was time consuming, mainly because there were many groups of students thrown together in one exam. Most of the students listed on the four sheets were actually in other examination rooms. It took a long time for each student to scan through the long lists of names and find their names. In many cases, their names did not appear at all and they had to write them on the back of the sheet along with their student numbers.
It was impossible to carry out this task and monitor the large hall of students at the same time. When an instructor showed up, she was surprised to see that there was no other invigilator. Finally, the other invigilator showed up, twenty minutes late. It turned out that it was his office mate. He had forgotten all about the exam because he was leaving for a holiday that very day and was trying to get his exams finished and turned in.
It was a relief that he came but it did not speed up the process of getting the students checked off. It was taking so long, due to the lack of organization of the instructors that some students were certainly going to finish the exam before he got around to having them sign the paper.
He was only a little more than half-way through checking the students when some who had not been checked finished the easy exam and started to leave. Singer had to tell them that they had to stay until they could sign off their names. He had them sit in some vacant seats in the front row and then came to them to get them checked out. Getting more students out of the room would be helpful in any event so he was ready to let them go early.
His office mate meanwhile was hot under the collar to get away and finish grading his exams. He asked Jed for permission to go early.
“Sure,” Jed told him. “Go ahead. I can take care of it.”
There were few ways they could copy, anyway, but Jed had come to the point where he really did not care one way or the other. Why should he, when it was all such a farce. The whole university. Generally it would be one dummy copying from another one. What would they gain?
By the time he got through and checked the rest of the students, a good two-thirds of the students had already finished and left. It was coming to the end of the time period with less than twenty students remaining. He could relax a little. Finally it was down to a handful but there were always a few hold-outs who would use the remaining fifteen minutes sitting and staring blankly and writing nothing on the paper. It was as if some miracle was going to happen suddenly reveal the answers if only they sat and waited long enough.
Finally it was over. For the last half dozen students, he had to keep begging them for the papers for more than five minutes as they refused to give them up at the end of the time period.
Finally, the last one was gone and he could finally breathe easily. He bundled up the big thick stack of exams and stuffed them into the envelope along with the sign-in sheets. He looked around and wondered if any instructor was going to come and collect the exams, as he always did in his classes. But here, it was not going to happen. He had to go to the faculty and look up the instructor and leave the exams. It was a relief as it was his last invigilation of the semester. Thank God, I am not going to go through that again, he thought. It is not worth it. I would like to just get out of this place.
His office mate was taking the second leave of the semester. It did not escape Singer’s attention that somehow the Chaosarian staff members were able to take off more days than others. After delivering the exams, Jed still had half an hour before he could book for the day. He went down the narrow hallway to his office where his office mate was still ploughing through his exams and tallying up the points on each one. He was doing it in a simple way without any thought involved. He had simplified it to a mechanical routine.
Jed sat and waited. By that time, the tea was finished for the day and not worth going for. He was clearly too tired, even exhausted, after the invigilation to work on his project.
Sometimes to help kill the boredom, rather than stay in the cramped office where he could not work, he went out and walked round and round the perimeter of the atrium in Einstein Complex. This too was boring but it kept his limbs moving and took up some of the time. But today he did not even feel like doing this.
Looking at the internet to kill the last fifteen minutes of the day, he saw an interesting item. In America a member of the George W. Bush Government, who Jed considered a war criminal, was invited to make a speech at a prominent university on the East coast of the US. The officials at the university had voted to pay her thirty-five thousand dollars for the speech. She was now a member of the faculty at Stanford University in California. Hearing about the speech which was for commencement, some students had started to protest because she had helped to launch the War in Iraq. She then declined to accept the invitation. Jed thought that perhaps she thought that it was not worth it for that much money. He knew that past Presidents routinely made three times that much for their speeches which were obviously written by someone else who was paid to write them. At the same time, they were awarded honorary doctorate degrees. Other people had to go through blood, sweat and tears for years to earn a doctorate degree.
It was another thing that further depressed him to think that such people were in such high demand because they had helped to wreak destruction on a country and kill tens of thousands of people. Probably this faculty member was quite sure that she would receive other offers to speak at the same time and for more money as well. For one speech, she would be getting more than Singer earned in a whole year, and she could appear in as many speeches as she wished, as the offers kept pouring in in a steady stream.
And then another item caught his eye. There was a report about Midas Celestial University. The police had reported some time back that some students at the university were receiving money from the Ukraine and Iraq. It was believed that the money was coming from al-Qaeda. One student had even been accused of plotting a terrorist attack against the United States. Could it be true?
Then an astounding statistic was given. The report said that half a million dollars were being sent out of the country of Chaos every month by students through Western Union. The money was going to Nigeria. Was this a money-laundering operation? Where was this money going once it reached Nigeria? One possibility would be to Boko Haram. Or maybe it was just being routed through Nigeria to be sent somewhere else.
And then there was the news about several students from Nigeria who had died recently in Chaos. One student at another university had been run down by a big Mercedes car driven by a drunken woman from Chaos. There seemed to have been no investigation and nothing was done. The body was shipped by cargo back to Nigeria.
In another incident that happened in the summer, the body of a Nigerian student was found on the beach after a party. He had been seen earlier in the evening flirting with the girlfriend of a young guy from Chaos. Again the death was quite mysterious and seemed to have been covered up by the police. It seemed that somebody had beaten the guy up and dumped his body there. It could possibly have been the girl’s boyfriend but it seemed that what really happened was being kept under wraps.
In another case, a student had been locked out of his apartment. He had gone drinking and lost his keys. When he returned to the apartment on the fifth floor, he was unable to get in. He then tried climbing in through a small bathroom window. From here he slipped and fell to his death.
One thing was clear. There were many students on the island who were only posing as students. They were using the university for a different purpose. Some came from Russia and spent their time working in a casino. Some of these seemed to be involved in various types of money-laundering.
Young women too registered in the classes but were seldom seen. When Jed did see them, they certainly appeared as Honky-Tonk angels with big exposed breasts and dyed hair. They took a sampling of what was going on in the class and disappeared. Apparently when it became clear that there was some real work required to pass, they gave up the possibility and would register again the next semester. Jed noticed that some had registered for the class eight times or more.
Other students came and registered to avoid the military service. These students too could be seen registering for the same classes every semester and never bothering to attend.
Nevertheless, the traffic in students, for whatever purpose, contributed to the fragile economy of the island. Jed read that currently there were sixty-five thousand students in Chaos. The enterprise of bringing students was so flourishing that the state officials were aiming for one-hundred thousand shortly. This was certainly bringing in money. In some instances it also seemed to be adding to the corruption that was seen. Nevertheless, for the most part, it was full steam ahead.
He packed up his computer and prepared to get off the campus. Darkness had fallen by now. He wished his office-mate a happy holiday and best wishes if he was gone and out of the university before he returned. He had done what he could and had been a friend.
There are many from Chaos that are just taking the easy way out, Jed thought. It takes too much effort to make it in a legitimate way somewhere else and so they just stay and drift along here. He had seen the same thing in other places where he had taught. It was the same in the south of the USA. They stayed where they could get along easily, rather than pulling themselves up and working hard in a different setting.
Chapter Thirty-Six: Memories
Jed knew it would be a tiring day but he wanted to see his old university before he left. He would leave fairly early and drive to Eastern Chaos University. In the morning, he went to the port to arrange for the tickets. It took some time. One company’s window was closed down but he managed to arrange it with the other company. Still he would have to come back for the tickets the next day.
He headed east on the old road that went over the high mountain pass. He preferred this route as he avoided the traffic in Samos which built up in the morning. It was the most scenic route through the mountains, coming next to huge rough boulders. Then it wound down the mountain on the opposite side. It skirted around an area where rock was being mined out of the beautiful mountains. A huge gaping hole had been opened in the mountain, ruining the view forever. It pained him to see such destruction taking place. The destruction of nature was rampant as the hoard of human ants continued their devastation of nature.
Once one hit the big road across the flat plain, it was another forty kilometers. He cruised past the flat fields and poor villages and arrived at the campus before noon. There was no check at the gate. He drove through cautiously and circled around the old building which he recognized. His office had been there some twenty years ago. There was a big parking lot with vacant spaces.
He could hardly recognize the place. He could see that it was actually taking on the aura of a genuine university campus. He could never see it quite like that in the past when the area adjacent to the building was planted with small saplings. Now these small plants had become quite big trees with thick trunks. There were shady areas with tables that served the snack bar.
He entered the building and recognized that it was the old part that he remembered. Yes, there were the steps that went down to the auditorium and the door to the old dean’s office, who he learned had passed away.
He had made an appointment to see the new dean Murat Yildirim. A male secretary at the door informed him that he had gone to a meeting. He world return in half an hour, it was said. Jed said that he would wait. A young professor came who had been a student aid in his days. He recognized Jed and they talked. He told him some things that were going on in the university. It too had taken on many Nigerian students. In a little bit he got bored, when there was no development. He did not like waiting for others.
Rather than sit around, he decided to explore around the old placed. A wide sidewalk separated the old building where his first office was from the newer building where he had moved the second year. New extensions had since been added onto the building.
Going up into the hall, he recognized the main hall, where the department office was. Not much here had changed. Only one person remained of the old crew. A Polish guy who was not friendly with him and had joined a clique against him. He went by the name of the “Polish Pope.” Fortunately he was out of the country. He wouldn’t have to say hello. He saw his old office. Most of the faculty members were new.
He saw his friend Huseyin Bey’s office but he was not in. In a little bit, he received a call on his pocket phone. The dean had come. He hurried back to the dean’s office and met Murat Bey, a friendly younger guy.
The meeting had lasted longer than he anticipated, he said, and they should be off to lunch.
“I am hungry.” He said. “Yes, me too,” Jed said.
They walked across campus. Jed tried to keep his bearings, but many new buildings had been built. It was not at all the same campus. The campus had been extended further into what was just barren rocky land when Jed was teaching there. Then they came down and he recognized the old building which housed the faculty cafeteria on the top floor.
He went up with the dean in the elevator. It seemed nostalgic. Being late they were almost the only ones eating. They sat down to eat. The first course was soup and then there was a nice fish dish. It was excellent food unlike anything that could be found on the campus at Midas Celestial. Jed very much enjoyed the real food. Jed told the dean some things about the old days when he was there.
Then he told him about his experiences at Midas Celestial. The Dean was surprised to hear some of the things Jed told him. Still, he was aware that there were big problems and that it was not a good place to be.
“Actually those guys that are running the place are dangerous,” the dean said. “If they were threatened by something, I think they could do you some damage.”
He could see why they would not want to have anyone who was a real academic with integrity to be there. It could threaten them if the truth got out to certain places about the school. They had no intention to improve the academic standards.
Then Jed told him about their policy of going around and spying on the instructors to see if they left their class before the three hours were up.
“This was an insult to me,” Jed said, “because I had been teaching the course for so many years. They never monitor how many students actually attend the class of whether they learn anything, but just harass the instructors with this type of thing. The dean was surprised to hear about it.
“We wouldn’t do anything like that,” he said.
“It is not the way to measure academic performance,” Jed said. “They could demand that they do some publishing and go to conferences.”
Jed told him about some of the other things that were going on.
He told him that he would like to retire, but would perhaps like to teach two or three more years before that if it was possible. But it turned out that Midas Celestial just could not work out at all. It was a hopeless place.
With all the talk, the meal lasted quite long. Jed enjoyed the talk, because he was not really bucking for a job and was out of a job as of that week. He could be completely himself, he felt.
After the lunch, they walked back to the faculty. The dean pointed out the new buildings and what they were. A new medical faculty had just opened.
Back in the dean’s office, they talked.
“Well, I actually just came to see the old place, a sort of sentimental journey,” Jed said. “I didn’t come here to ask anyone to give me a job. However, if there was a need, it would be nice to come for a couple of years or so, perhaps. It would not be worth it to come for part-time. But there are things that I could teach if needed. I have revised and published the third edition of my textbook and am writing a text book for global political economy.”
“I am not actually sure if we will need anybody and under what conditions we could hire you,” the dean said. “I will definitely keep your CV on file so you can check back with us later.”
Jed thanked him. When he left, he went back over to the faculty. The chairman had still not returned from lunch. He was about to give up seeing the chairman when he saw him and Huseyin coming up the steps from lunch.
He met them and said hello. Huseyin was surprised to see him and learn that he was leaving.
“The winter is not a good time to take that boat,” he said.
“Sure, I know,” Jed said. “But we really have no choice. That’s just the way things have turned out.”
Huseyin was off to his office and had to see some students. He waited to see the chairman, Aslan. He had known him going back twenty years before he went to the US to study for a graduate degree.
But there were a group of students in the office for one reason or another. Some of them were having problems with their grades. Most of them were Africans.
Jed waited humbly on the bench. He asked the secretary about the old secretary who used to work there. He found that she had now become a secretary in the Rector’s office.
Finally, the coast cleared. Aslan came out and he went in and had a friendly talk.
“It is nice to see you.” Jed said. “I hope things are going well. I have just spent the last semester teaching at Midas Celestial University. It is a terrible place. I had no idea about it before I came,” Jed said. “So now I have resigned.”
“Oh, didn’t anybody tell you about it,” Aslan asked?
“No, how could I know?” Jed said.
“They don’t care about anything academic,” Aslan said. “We have improved here. Except for one faculty member, everyone has published an article in the social science research index. So we have some standards. It is not great but we have improved it.”
“That is good,” Jed said. But he thought that he was probably exaggerating.
“I didn’t come to beg you for a job,” Jed said. “I really just came to look at the university and say hello. But if there might be a chance for me to come next year, I could be interested.”
“I am not sure what we could offer,” he said. “A visiting professor position might be possible but we would have to look into it.”
Jed decided that it would be good to get back on the road and get back before dark, so he said his goodbyes and headed back over the mountains to Midas.
It had been an interesting day, a sort of sentimental journey to see the old places and meet a couple of friends. It could have been in better circumstances. The bad thing was that he would not have a job. The good thing was that he would have some free time and be away from the chicken-shit of Midas Celestial University.
Chapter Thirty-Seven: Last Days
The semester was over. Jed’s grades had been submitted. He had the office to himself, with his office mate on leave. He worked on his political economy projects. An occasional student stopped by to ask about their grade. Some complained, but most were satisfied. One problem student who claimed that he was a teacher in eastern Aslanistan kept writing him emails which were practically unintelligible. He wanted a higher grade and said he would lose his scholarship and be kicked out of the university if he did not get it. Jed checked his record and saw that he had attended only a few classes. He was being generous to even pass him. But the emails continued even after Jed told him that he could do no more for him. Some students which he had not seen all semester came to lobby for grades.
For several days he had been collecting cardboard boxes from the small markets to pack up clothes to ship back. He had to grab them before they were soaked in the frequent rains when put out of the stores. In the last week, he got the check-off sheet from Tolga Bey in Human Resources to start the process of clearing himself out of the university. One could not wait till the last day as some people would probably be missing. It was going fairly smoothly until he hit the registrar’s office.
With the stream of students, he had to wait for half an hour to see the woman in charge. Finally, he was ushered in. It was an unfriendly atmosphere. A middle-aged heavy-set Chaosarian woman was behind the desk. He wanted to finish with it as quickly as possible, handing her the printouts of his grades, which had already been entered into the computer. He told her that he needed to get signed out as he was leaving the university.
She looked at the form.
“We need all your exams. All your exams and class papers for the semester,” she said, “before I can sign you off.
“OK,” Jed said. “They are in my office. I will have to go and get them.”
Perhaps the department could have them sent over, he thought. Why should he have to lug them over there? But then he realized that this would not work in this place. Why even ask? It would never get done.
He left the paper lying on her desk as he headed back to his office down the hill and across the parking lot. That doesn’t really make sense, he thought. That office is packed full of old exams from other semesters. I wonder why those instructors did not have to bring their papers to the registrar. He had spent a day just clearing out one cabinet so that he would have a small space for his books. Then the bags were lying there for three weeks waiting for someone to take them.
Since his exams were organized and ready, it was a quick chore to grab the heavy stack of exams. It was work to lug them up the hill to the registrar, but the feeling of approaching liberation spurred him on. He marched back and climbed up the steps to enter her office again, somewhat out of breath.
He started to set them down on her desk.
“Put them over there” she barked, indicating a divan along the wall.
Jed picked them up again and plopped the big stack down there.
“I don’t mind to bring them,” Jed said. But I was wondering why you need them. My office is packed full of old exams from previous instructors.”
“We might need to check them.” She said crossly. “Can you see the logic?”
How can I see the logic? I am only a professor, Jed wanted to say. But he said nothing. What a nasty bitch, he thought. I have to get out of this fucking place. Why couldn’t they show one a little courtesy?
Amazing how this place treats its staff, he thought. Another in a long line of insults that kept coming.
He just wanted to get out at that point. Finally, she signed off on the sheet and he fled with a sigh of relief, having finished with another office on the sheet.
He walked across to the other side of the campus. Step by step he was liberating himself from Midas Celestial University. He walked through the glass doors with that fucking bird that was engraved everywhere and returned his last library books. He presented his sheet to the guy at the computer and said he would be leaving the university.
“Why are you leaving?” the young guy asked. By this time, Jed was not in the best of moods.
“This place treats you like shit and all they care about is making money,” he said. “I really cannot work in this university.”
A crooked smile came on his lips. A gleam of light had just penetrated the stupidity of the place.
“You are right,” he admitted, sheepishly, as he signed the paper. Everyone knew the truth, but was afraid to say it, afraid to acknowledge it. They had all the life crushed out of them. They kept their mouth shut and got their paycheck from month to month. It paid the bills and put some food on the table. But kept them in chains.
When he got back to his office, he was hot from running around all over campus. He went up to see the dean to finish that too, but Satilmis Bey was gone for the day. The door was locked. He was in good enough standing, apparently, to play hooky from time to time. That would have to wait till the next day, the last sign-off line on his paper.
Later in the day the cargo company came and picked up the boxes for shipment to Myopia. One of his students informed him that an instructor had been beat up on campus by a couple of Nigerian students for giving them an “F” in a course.
That is getting pretty rough, Jed thought. Maybe it really is a good idea that I am getting out of this place. The campus is exceedingly dark in the evenings. He sometimes wondered about it when he came out of the evening classes. One could easily be robbed or assaulted, as the university did not want to pay for lighting up the areas around the buildings. He started carrying a torch so as not to fall in a hole when he had to walk some distance.
The next day, Jed drove down to the port the first thing in the morning and got the tickets from Pilo, the ferry company. It took a long time to coordinate everything, and fill out the papers, but finally it was done. They were all set to go except for signing in when they arrived.
He drove back to the campus. Leaving his things in his office, he took his paper and went up to check on Satilmis Bey. Sure enough, the rat fink’s office door was standing open. His bald head was shining behind his desk.
Jed walked in, hopefully for the last time.
“Hi, Professor Kasapoglu. I need to have you sign off on my sheet,” Jed said. “I will be leaving tomorrow.”
“Oh, OK,” Satilmis chirped. “What are you going to do now?”
It was as if he thought that Jed would now be begging on the street without this shitty ass-kissing job.
“Leisure class,” Jed said. “I’ll be a member of the leisure class.”
The Dean gave him a confused look as he started signing off on the paper. Was he making fun of him or serious?
“You have read Veblen, haven’t you?” Jed said.
Jed thought it was a chance to play with him and rib him a little. He felt like it was now him that was on top, having finally obliterated his last links with the place. There was nothing they could do to him now. He was free.
The dean frowned at him. He obviously had no clue what he was talking about.
Jed suddenly realized that there was a need for his textbook. At least some students would find out who Veblen was. They would not be like this hopeless, clueless, business department dean.
“He was an American economist, Thorstein Veblen,” Jed said.
“Oh, he used that phrase?” The Dean wondered.
“It was a book published in 1899,” Jed said. “The “Theory of the Leisure Class.”
“And you think it’s still relevant?” Satilmis Bey asked, skeptically.
“Absolutely,” Jed said. “Take a look at it sometime. He was sort of poking fun at utility theory in economics. He was an institutionalist.”
Jed was sort of playing with his ignorance. He was certain that he wouldn’t have a clue or even be interested. This was fun now that he was leaving. That would give him something to think about.
Jed thanked Satilmis Bey for the semester.
“I am sorry that I couldn’t stay for the full year,” he lied. He couldn’t wait to see the last of that revolting building and campus.
Jed spent some time at home for lunch, having finished with the dean. Now it was just a matter of staying a while the next day and turning in his keys.
He had the afternoon to work on another chapter of his book in his office. Now he felt that he was on his own. He said goodbye to the faculty members that were around.
Jed slept soundly. If there was any concern with not having an income, it had not dawned on him yet. He was feeling the euphoria of leaving the place, although he would again be out of a job. The whole fucking thing had fallen apart, but he was now extricating himself from the nightmare of the business model. Such a life was below human dignity.
The next morning, he drove to the campus and spent a couple of hours writing in peace and quiet. There was no one to disturb him, although he kept getting emails from that stubborn absentee student. Several of the faculty seemed to be playing hooky and away from their offices. A little before noon, Jed picked up his bag and put on his coat. He locked up the office for the last time and walked upstairs to give his keys to the secretary, Fatima. He then walked out of the building for the last time.
Cranking up his car, he slowly drove out the lane, through the gate and off campus. Midas Celestial University slowly receded in his rear view mirror. He was out at last.
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Long Nightmare
It was the last day and Jed and Zeynep had to get out of the apartment and off the island. Fortunately, the weather had turned mild. They were hoping for an easy smooth trip across on a calm sea. Jed had gone a few days before and made their reservations and paid the fare for two people and a car.
Their packs of clothes and other belongings had been picked up by the cargo company a few days before. Everything else had to be packed into the small car with a shoe horn. The other items would be distributed to their friends in the residence as they came to talk and say goodbye.
After leaving the university, Jed spent the afternoon and part of the evening carrying things down and packing them into the car. When friends showed up, they were offered items that they had to leave behind. Finally, at half past nine in the evening, they closed up their apartment and headed out for the port. The small car was packed solid.
At the port, they went to the ship company’s office and validated their tickets which were already reserved. Then they got into the line of cars to be driven onto the boat to be ferried across to Aslanistan.
Zeynep had to go and get the car cleared through customs while Jed went to get his passport stamped. It turned out that they had not paid a tax bill which came due the month before. That was a fine but no big deal. Finally, the car was inspected and they were ready to go into the boat which was loading near midnight. There was a long ramp that one had to drive up to get into the boat. Once inside, it was parked close to other vehicles on the prow for the trip across.
Zeynep was stuck on the driver’s side, unable to open the door. She was unable to get across to the passenger side and get out of the car. Finally, she managed with Jed’s help in a difficult struggle.
They got a few things from the car, including blankets and climbed the long ladder up to the upper deck. A man was trying to calm his big dog that was caged near the bulkhead. They made it to the upper deck which was already filling up with passengers. They found and claimed two empty seats in one of the large compartment. A TV was roaring in the front. Some people had already claimed these seats so as to have access to the TV in the night. Jed and Zeynep want further back. Some had cabbaged onto two seats so as to lie down and sleep.
Jed was not sleepy. It was not a cold night. He decided to go out onto the deck for a while in the open air. Guys were coming and smoking, waiting for the boat to get underway. Inside the compartment were families with kids running around. Mostly women and kids. It was impossible to avoid them.
The boat got underway about half past one without Jed being aware of it. When he went forward, he saw that they were underway.
“Well, better than that other boat,” Jed told Zeynep. “We didn’t have to wait most of the night to get onto the boat like the other time.”
However, it was clear that it was going to be difficult to get any sleep in the cramped seats. The boat had no private cabins, so this was the best one could do. One could not lay back. There was a hoard of kids around. Some were squalling. One small child behind them was coughing continuously and crying loudly.
“This thing is completely unhealthy,” Jed concluded. “One will catch whatever colds and viruses others have in this environment.”
They were almost all working people or soldiers in the military.
He walked around the boat. The other compartments were equally crowded. There was a table in one corner. They brought the food they had with them and ate it here. However, it was reserved for the truck drivers during the night.
Out on the deck where men were standing and smoking, it was cool and pleasant. The big boat was steaming toward Aslanistan in its slow, steady pace. Fortunately the seas were calm. They would not reach there until the next morning. They would regulate the speed to reach the port at the right time.
Zeynep was unable to sleep the entire night. But Jed was able to find a position where he could crap out for a couple of hours. It would have to be enough to get him by for driving the next day.
They woke up before daylight. Jed took a trip out on the deck. The air had turned colder. One could see the lights of the shore of Myopia and Turuncu ahead. They were getting closer to the mainland. When Jed came back, they went and got hot tea. They had some biscuits to go with it.
Zeynep talked with the guy running the canteen. He said the service was very bad, but it could not improve because Chaos had a monopoly on running the boats. They contracted the business out to a few favored firms. That was the way it was. The Myopians were not allowed to have a service. So things went on as always.
Daylight came. A clear day. The sea was blue and beautiful. One could see the mountains in the distance growing closer. Jed was pleased to see that the boat was going to dock at the port in the town.
At eight in the morning, the boat arrived at the pier. There was a rush of passengers down the gangplank when it was lowered. Jed carried their things down and stuffed them in the few open spaces in the car. There was an oily film on the windshield from the stacks of the boat which was difficult to clean off. He tried to wipe enough away to see how to drive.
When their turn came, Jed eased the car down the gangplank. They found a place to park and went to take care of formalities. The first thing was passport control. This took half an hour, all the people from the crowded launch lining up. Then there was more insurance to purchase for the car, taxes to pay and so on. The car had to be inspected for customs. Back and forth from window to window. The whole process took nearly two hours before they finally were cleared and able to exit the port.
“Oh God, what a lot of things we have done in the last few days,” he told Zeynep. “It is just amazing, but I am glad to be back in Myopia. It is like coming home.”
“I don’t know. I am tired,” Zeynep said. “We have to find some things to eat and drink.”
Jed took the road to the west out of the town. The weather was beautiful. Bright and sunny and quite warm for a winter day. In a little bit, they stopped at a small shop and bought some snacks and drinks. “Normal prices here,” Jed noted. “This stuff would be twice as much in Chaos.”
Jed drove on, feeling fine. In a little bit, there was a service station. It was closed, but he made use of the bathroom for his morning relief. Zeynep went after him, but with less success.
Jed enjoyed driving the curvy mountain road again. By noon, they had made Muzlu. They drove to the center of the town and found a small local restaurant.
It was refreshing. Simple and cheap food at last, not the perpetual fast-food menu on Chaos. Jed thoroughly enjoyed the lunch and munched down on the local bread.
Zeynep enjoyed it too, but was not doing as well. She was still tired from the overnight cruise and complained of a headache. After she took some medicine, she felt better.
Jed drove on, but they stopped in the late afternoon and found a small hotel. It was not the best, but pickings were slim in the wintertime. Stopping was a pain and a chore, due to the difficulty of finding things in the packed car. But they needed rest and some recovery before moving on.
After a full day’s drive the next day, they were back in their place in Aslanistan and the adventure in Chaos was finally over.
Chapter Thirty-Nine: Strip Mining
Jed was out of Chaos but the business model was marching on. He thought about the situation. It seemed to be on the path to take over the entire world. Great strides had been made in America in recent years to privatize education. Even the public schools of whole cities had been closed down, shutting them and turning them over to the private enterprise business model. Corporate run schools, called charter schools, were all the rage in America. University corporations were becoming the owners of hundreds of private high schools and dozens of universities. No one could stop them. They were gobbling up public institutions and high schools at the rate of five-hundred or more a year.
This had come about first by the voucher system, a method of right-wing Republicans for redirecting public funds to private groups running schools. Private foundations were established in America including KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) , Teach for America, The New Schools Venture Fund, the Charter School Growth Fund, The Bill Gates Foundation and so on. Hundreds of millions of dollars flowed from large corporations to help fund private education. This was happening, even though the statistics showed that private charter schools were often worse than public schools. The schools were being bought by billionaires through the tax-sheltered private foundations. They were headed by a CEO who made an outrageously large salary. They had full freedom to hire and fire teachers at will, lengthen the work day. , make teachers work on the weekends, and adjust salaried down to save money. They even fired the American teachers and imported teachers who would work for lower wages.
The press had bought the propaganda of the private groups. Teachers were seen as just greedy individuals. Billionaires were seen as philanthropic individuals who only wanted to improve the schools and had no selfish interest in the enterprise. Foundations were sponsored by big corporations such as Amazon, Microsoft and other information technology companies.
It was all very profitable as the pushing of science and technology went forward in private schools. It was easier to get contracts to sell equipment and educational supplies to the private schools. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, had given millions of dollars because he also ran an information technology company. Rupert Murdoch also poured in money. The corporate takeover of public schools made sense for Wall Street since the education sector was almost ten percent of the whole economy. Investment had already reached 1.3 trillion dollars before 2015.
In Myopia, much of the development of private schools had been at the university level, although private high schools were opening too. It had become de rigueur for every private holding company to have its own university as a matter of prestige. Education in the private business model was not for knowledge, as such, as the work implied. It was not “educare,” the Latin meaning to “draw out,” as the original term meant. Rather, education in the business model sense was to “stuff full,” full, that is, of corporate values, corporate hog wash and crass propaganda. Education, in the Gary Becker sense, was capital investment in the production of human capital. Naturally, the cost of production had to fall to the lowest level, the cost per unit of human capital tallied up in the statistics as a measure of productivity.
Was it any different from the production of coal? One could strip mine the earth or strip mine an individual’s mind to produce and improve the quality of human capital, measured in terms of serving the needs of the corporate sector.
After a few weeks, a coal mine caught fire in Myopia. More than three-hundred miners died the same day from carbon monoxide. It was the paradigm example of the business model in mining. Now it was taking over to strip mine students’ minds. The company, just like Vahap Bey and the directors at Midas Celestial, had cut costs to produce the coal at the cheapest possible price. This was just like the model at Midas Celestial, cutting the cost of turning out strip mined robots as useful human capital.
Indeed, the Prime Minister and other government ministers rushed to ensure the public that it was perfectly natural to perish people in the production of coal. That, indeed, was part of getting the cost of production down. By the same token, why not perish peoples’ minds in the production of human capital? That is, the production of the commodity which would prove useful to private corporations.
When some protested the Prime Minister, asking him to resign, he told them that if they wanted to protest him, then they would be slapped. Following his slapping, they would then be beat up by the Prime Minister’s goon squads which he kept at his side for such uses. Thinking that one miner had indeed protested, the Prime Minister ran after him into a store shouting “Why are you running away, you Israeli sperm?” After giving him the promised Prime Ministerial slap, the poor guy was duly beaten to a pulp, by an aid, making a useful point about the business model. Anyone who resists it will be duly crushed. To criticize the business model was the ultimate sin. The workers, like the teachers, were just selfish and greedy. They were sperm, for the Prime Minister.
It was revealed that when the three-hundred dead miners were being carried out of the mine with great effort from kilometers below the surface of the earth, the company, in the interest of the business model, put gas masks on their faces to make it appear that they had died in spite of taking all safety precautions. In fact, the gas masks were fake Chinese models.
However, this pretense quickly broke down, as new facts about the business model in the coal industry emerged. The mine had been subcontracted to a business firm close to the government. The government inspectors had not inspected the important areas of the mine. The gas masks were actually only dust masks and useless to protect the miners from carbon monoxide. The miners had warned that the coal was heating up, indicating a fire, but in the interests of the business model, production had to go on to keep costs of production down. The sensors in the mine to detect carbon monoxide had been shut down because they slowed production, which is a no-no in the business model. The mine shafts had been supported with wood supports and not metal as required as a safety measure and on and on. The business model was revealed in all its deadly beauty as the dead miners were carried out to the grieving families.
Officials of the company held a news conference and defended the business model, as the cost of production had fallen so low. But the externalities, the dead miners, and the real costs were not included in the model.
It should have been instructive but to criticize the business model was forbidden everywhere in the country. The Prime Minister said it was perfectly natural and so no one could say anything against it, or they would get beaten up.
It was the same in every other industry. It was the business model, after all, that was getting the cost of computers and cell phones down all around the world as tens of thousands slaved around the clock in the assembly plants in China.
Just as in Midas Celestial University, there was no room for protest and anyone pointing out something wrong about the model would be kicked out at once. They better not ask for any protection. That was put clearly right up front in the contract.
The business model was gravitating toward fascistic practices. Bringing the storm troopers in to prevent any protest seemed to be the case around the world. The economic logic of the business model was irresistible and irrefutable and so it had to go forward into the glorious future.
Jed had escaped Chaos, but the world could not escape the business model in the present dispensation. It blossomed in every economics department from Chicago to Beijing. The business model in the present age was a virus which was eating into the entrails of society and taking over the world. It was clear that the future of the world was nothing more than the future of the business model.
It was crystal clear that Vahap Bey knew what he was doing with that plagiarized dissertation. The officials of Midas Celestial knew what they were doing with all that cribbing business symbols from the internet. They were clearly winning and taking over the world. The business model was the future and the future was the business model.