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.