March 2, 2009

Today’s affront—The Stink. About 11-ish, as I was ending a conference with a student, a stench like a stagnant toilet, like sewerage filled my office. Soon my chair asked-yelled, “What is that smell?” Another professor thought it was garbage. The smell was coming through the vents. I was going down the hall to tell someone in the office when another professor came out of a lab tucked in the center of the building. Does it stink in there? I said. Yeah, he said, like I was an idiot not to know that already. In the office, they thought they smelled it but it was nothing like in our offices or the lab. The Dean smelled nothing. I brought him around. Everyone, even students, were making faces. The Dean said, I don’t smell it, then as he walked under a vent, he froze, made a gagging face, said, Ugh, I smell it! What IS that?

What it was was an overflowing sink in the studio. The handicapped-access women’s bathroom down the hall is also broken, again, has been broken, and fixed, every other week all semester. The sink there no longer gets water. The men’s toilet across from that women’s toilet is now acting up. Construction next to the building continues and may or may not have something to do with all this. The man fixing this sink, and who has been fixing the toilet as far as I know, seems to have left the sink this morning in frustration. He makes things work but doesn’t necessarily fix them. So they go assbackward again. And again.

It was awful. I threatened to leave. But I’d only make my week worse. I already had a bad case of Mondays and could see a sloggish day of work ahead. I’m feeling beaten by the place. It comes and goes; right now, the beast is on me. So I stayed, breathing through my sweater when I could.

I ate my lunch outside in the cold. Afterward, it felt hard in my stomach the more I breathed the sewer-y air. But I kept it down. My mouth tasted post-vomit stale.

About 2-ish, the stink faded. I thought I’d finally gotten used to it. But it was gone. I asked students if they’d been there for The Stink. They looked at me like I was nuts.


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