19 November 2005

On Attempting to Work

I have a lovely new carrel in the CGIS South building. It contains a spacious L-shaped desk, bulletin boards for my calendar and dissertation materials, and, best of all, a confy chair with an adjustable lumbar support. I like working here, but I usually don't come in on the weekends. I'll work in the library or at home. But today I needed some material I store here and I thought, well, I'll spend the afternoon writing here. I got to the front door, though, to discover my swipe card didn't work. Here's how I got into the building:

Rebecca (to security guard in neighboring building): Hi, I need access to my office but my swipe card won't work.
Guard: OK, but I can't let you in.
Rebecca: Can someone else let me in?
Guard: Let me call my supervisor.
(much talking and muttering)
Guard: I can't let you in.
Rebecca: Let me talk to your supervisor.
Supervisor: I can't let you in unless you obtain authorization from Harvard University Police.
(Rebecca calls HUPD)
Rebecca to HUPD: Hi, this is Rebecca Goetz in the History Department. I need you to please authorize me for access to my office.
HUPD: I don't know who you are.
Rebecca: I know we've never met but I have a university ID you can look at.
HUPD: Yes, but I don't know who you are.
Rebecca: Right, yes, I know that, but I need access to my office. Can you send someone down to let me into the building?
HUPD: Let me talk to the security guard.
(more muttering)
Security Guard: HUPD authorized you. I'll get my supervisor down to let you in.
Rebecca (relieved): Thanks!
(Security Guard muttering to supervisor)
Guard to Rebecca: Well, I need to call HUPD back to they can talk to my supervisor and tell them you're authorized to enter the building.
(more muttering into the telephone, Rebecca is starting to feel really uncomfortable)
Guard to Rebecca: HUPD doesn't seem to understand the situation. I'm not sure what they want me to do.
(enter the Supervisor, from stage left)
Rebecca: Hi, I'm Rebecca Goetz, history department. I need to get into my office, but my swipe card doesn't work.
(Supervisor carefully examines my ID card)
Supervisor: Did HUPD authorize this?
Guard: Well, sort of.
Supervisor: Because I can't take responsibility for this.
Rebecca: I really need to get into my office. I promise I won't vandalize anything or set the building on fire.
Supervisor: Well, OK, but just this once. You'll have to get this fixed on Monday.
(Rebecca, to herself: What? I have to get this fixed? I forebear to ask about how I get in on Sunday)
(Supervisor escorts me to the building, lets me in, and escorts me to my office.)

Supervisor: Well, your key works, that's a good sign.
(Supervisor inspects my carrel, and, finding a nice letter of acknowledgment from one of the universities I have applied to tacked to my bulletin board, decides that this really is my carrel, and leaves.)

This all took about forty minutes.


At Sunday, November 20, 2005 4:57:00 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Dresner said...

I don't know if this'll make you feel any better, but it doesn't sound like they've gotten any worse in the last decade....

At Sunday, November 20, 2005 1:05:00 PM, Anonymous Diana Kudayarova said...

Ouch. The guard in Knafel is rather unpleasant (I assume that's where you went?) I have an office there, and dutifully say hello to him every time I come in, and he is yet to acknowledge my existence. Although sometimes he responds to "good night" in the evenings. I guess he's happier to see me leave.

At Sunday, November 20, 2005 1:33:00 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Oh, the guard himself was very nice about it. The problem seems to be that no one wanted to be responsible for letting little ol' me into the building! As to whether they've gotten any worse, well, it's hard to say, Jonathan. We should swap Harvard beaurocracy stories sometime. I've got some real doozies!

At Monday, November 21, 2005 7:42:00 PM, Blogger Another Damned Medievalist said...

must. not. giggle.


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