Friday, July 8

Harry Potter and the Laid-Off Secretary

During all of the packing stress, I have been relaxing by rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in preparation for the unpacking stress, during which I will read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. As those of you who have read it know -- and I don't think I'm spoiling anything for those of you who don't -- a crucial plot point in HPATOOTP involves a long hallway in the basement of the Ministry of Magic, and a door at the end which is very very difficult to open. The whole time I have been reading the book I have had a very clear specific hallway in my mind, but I had never given much thought to what hallway I was envisioning while I was reading it. Until this morning, when I realized that the hallway I was picturing was the long hallway in the basement of the Mathematics building at the job I have just finished.

Yes, one of this morning's adventures was to load everything from my office into the aforementioned Toyota Sienna, and because this campus is quite possibly the least handicapped-accessible place on the planet, the options were to carry the boxes down two flights of stairs, to go to the crappy outdoor elevator across campus, or the third option, which we chose. This option involved taking the boxes down to the basement and then walking the equivalent of nearly two blocks in a long dank hot narrow hallway full of steampipes (with accompanying steam) and orphaned desks and AV equipment, before pushing the dolly up a ramp that had a much larger incline than one would choose to push a dollly full of boxes of math books up.

Just like Harry Potter's hallway, this hallway also had a door in the middle of it that was difficult to open. In particular, despite the fact that it connects two areas that are completely accessible to the public, the door requires the use of an ID. But not just any ID -- no, student ID's don't work and faculty ID's don't work and it turns out that most staff ID's don't work as well, as you have to be specially cleared by the Powers That Be to use the door that connects the two publicly accessible rooms. Last week, when I started asking other faculty members what the best way to move boxes out of the building was and they all told me about this option they all said that I needed to go borrow the ID from the secretary of the department, as hers was the only one that would let me through. The added wrinkle, of course, is that this secretary was laid off about a month or so ago, and the main administrator in the department said he did not realize that she had been the only one with access, something which I am not at all surprised that she neglected to mention as she was not so happy when she left. Luckily, we eventually tracked down someone else whose ID would let me through the door, but somehow the whole thing was a lot more difficult than it should have been.

Oh well. At least Lord Voldemort didn't show up.


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