I’m Not Paid Enough to Deal With This…

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One of my pet peeves in life right now is my coworker.  Read plenty enough about it here.  The latest thing he is doing to bug the everloving literature out of me is the phrase, “I’m not paid enough to do that.”

This irritating burr of a statement seems to follow anything that resembles a request for work.  I will begrudgingly acknowledge that in academia most people are woefully not paid enough to do…that.  I will further acknowledge that we are not paid to industry standard because we work in a poor state.  I only admit it “begrudgingly” because I have always felt that he borrows on other people’s real problems to make his seem comparable.  Compared to the adjuncts, for example, we’re living like kings.  We have a retirement plan and health insurance and a decent wage.  We don’t work in the summer (which is a blessing and a curse).

BUT.  Giant red, baboon-sized monkey-BUTs…

I’ve always felt that there are some things you should buck up on and refuse to do and some things you should just put on your big girl panties and get done.  For example, I bucked up on working for free during the summer to develop this course.  It was a brand new, never been seen before offering that she wanted to pilot as soon as possible.  There is no existing model for it.  It’s not like I’m just adapting a previous syllabus and taking course goals and assignments that were previously all thought out.  This was 100% from scratch.  That’s a lot of work.  And doing that for free is definitely not fair.  But when my co-whiner says, for example, “I’m not paid enough to figure out the fair use requirements so we can take a few selections from this book.”  Or, “I’m not paid enough to figure out how to make that marketing flier any fancier.”  Well, I disagree.

I think most jobs require that you have a little ambition about you and that you figure out how to acquire skills for yourself that you might not have.  Whether I’m making up a new course or not, I have a fair amount of control over my reading selections for my courses.  Shouldn’t fair use be something I know about anyway?  Wouldn’t it behoove me to figure out how to better use technology to gussy up my marketing materials?

I think what irritates me most is the unanswered question that hangs in the air after he bleats out his statement.  OK, if it’s not your job, then whose job is it?!  Who does get paid enough to …what?…spoon feed you the information about fair use rules?  I’m certainly not paid enough to deal with his heel-dragging on virtually everything we’re trying to accomplish, nor am I paid enough to listen to the whining about his working conditions (which are the same as mine) or his pay (which is the same as mine).

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m too much of a work horse and willing to do too much for free.  I’ve always seen many smaller tasks like learning new tech, for example, as personal and professional development and enrichment.  I don’t have to be paid to do them because I see greater value in taking on that task and learning a new skill.  What do you think?  Where is the line between what you’re paid to do and what you “volunteer” to do on your own?

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