I'm really not used to this--I mean, this whole new way of relating to people, where I'm the professor and they're the students, and therefore I don't seem to exist as a normal person but am instead some object of fascination. It's strange as hell. In the classroom and during office hours, or even around campus, that strangeness is somewhat contained: they think my self-deprecating jokes are funnier than they are; they're sometimes skittish or shaky in meetings that I can't even fathom as intimidating. But I can remember feeling that way as a student, so these behaviors don't strike me as terribly odd.
However. Twenty-six hours with a pack of undergrads, a good deal of which was spent in a large, noisy, and overcrowded van, has impressed upon me just how weird this new position is.
There were three faculty members on the trip, including me. And my god! We were so in demand! We'd go one way, and like obedient ducklings six or seven students would trot into line behind us. We'd slow down to let them get ahead, and they would lurk around a corner to leap out and surprise us. (Not all of them behaved this way, obviously, but a good--and consistent!--handful did.) Every lame joke we made--or anything that we said that could be perceived as non-professorial, for that matter--met with incredulity and laughter. Things that I mentioned in a quiet, conversational voice to a colleague at dinner were overheard and noisily commented on by people three tables away. It's weird, I tell you! Weird!!!
Oh, and I have a nickname now. Perhaps because of the way I sign my emails, I have become (the equivalent of) H-mihi, where "H" is my first initial and "mihi" is my (actually monosyllabic) last name (accent on the "H"). Admittedly this isn't much of a nickname, but realistically it's about as far as they could go within the bounds of the titled decorum that constitutes the professorial address at Field College.
I am simply not used to getting this much attention from people I don't know particularly well. Yes, the ego likes it a little bit. But it's also kind of freaky. And honestly? I do like my space, now and again. Twenty-six hours was a long time.
I'm glad I went, though. It was a good chance to get to know some of our majors better and it brought me a little bit deeper into something that I'm trying to cultivate right now, which is an actual investment in this place. I need to start getting invested, and I think that I am. I've even come up with some things that I want to change around here--though I suppose that I need to make sure that I don't overstep my untenured bounds! Luckily, my departmental colleagues are eminently reasonable people who also happen to be delighted to pass of a little of the responsibility for this place onto someone else--they've had a lot to carry for an awfully long time.