I have become calm about work for the first time in many years because I have decided that I am all alone until further notice. I used to think I had to become a different person so that certain individuals would not be obstructive or manipulative or exploitative, or that I had to negotiate with them for better treatment, or that in some way or another we had to come to some kind of understanding of each other (and that it was my role to make this possible).
None of these things are true. “It’s every man for himself in that unit,” I heard a student say, and life is easier if you can see the truth. The other departments I have worked in were not like this, faculty acted as colleagues.
Central to that is that they trusted each others’ intentions. Here the assumption is that one has dark and low motives. Either you want power locally, or you want to get paid without working, or you want both of these things, people believe. That is part of the plantation attitude.
“If you do good work, people will look down on you,” observed the astute man who cuts my grass.