Be it resolved

I will never attend another meeting in person again.*

I have a day of meetings scheduled for the rest of the day, but the first one nearly killed me. It was two hours long. We had a detailed 5-page agenda that had been emailed to us, and that should have been all we needed. I dutifully attended, ankle wrapped up and immobilized, as the pain continued to raise, despite the brain-addling drugs I’m taking, and worst of all, I’m taking a diuretic. Breaks? No.

It was fucking agonizing, a thoroughly unpleasant meeting in which I learned nothing I hadn’t already learned from a few decades of experience and reading the agenda ahead of time. I got to listen to a parade of administrators while squirming and almost breaking down and praying to a benevolent god for a merciful ending. I knew my prayer for a lightning bolt to end my suffering wouldn’t be answered, though. Jumping out a window was tempting, but the room was on the ground floor.

I’ve got more meetings scheduled, but screw it, I’m not going unless they’re over Zoom.

I’m two years away from retirement, and I swear, this experience confirmed my commitment to getting out in Spring of 2025. I just can’t handle it anymore. Maybe if I were in good health, I’d be able to cope, but I’m right on the edge of erupting and melting down, and it was too much.

Classes start next week, and that’s going to be interesting. Lectures are one hour, not two, so that helps, but I’m also going to have to give up on the medication, which makes me drowsy and stresses my kidneys. Isn’t it great when a job is a compromise between getting the work done and your health?

*Student meetings excepted. I like those.


  1. wzrd1 says

    Now, where can I get a case of those candles?

    I do heartily recommend jumping out of ground floor windows, good enough for Lincoln, it’s good enough for me.
    And sure beats a command and staff meeting, where death by powerpoint is the primary goal.

  2. robro says

    Thankfully I have an accommodation so I can work from home all the time. I don’t know how long they’ll let me do this, but I’m hoping to retire on my own terms in the next year or so.

    Retirement is unsettling though. What will I do with my time?

  3. whosaidthat says

    Meaning this comment:

    “I just can’t handle it anymore. Maybe if I were in good health, I’d be able to cope, but I’m right on the edge of erupting and melting down, and it was too much.”

    Only difference is that I’m only one year away from retirement.

  4. says

    I recall a meeting, long ago, that had been scheduled as a ‘stand up’ (10-15 minutes) but was still going on, uselessly, after an hour. When asked if we had any questions I asked: ‘Will there be a time when this meeting is over?’ Laughs from all but the Project Manager, who was not at all amused.

  5. nomdeplume says

    No one ever gotto the end of life regretting that they hadn’t spent more time in meetings and on committees.

  6. rockwhisperer says

    Back in the Pleistocene, one of my favorite professors (who eventually became a good friend) had retired, and had been talked into teaching classes on contract. Didn’t hurt that Cal loved teaching, loved interacting with students, and was delighted to be free of the other responsibilities associated with being a professor.

    I remember taking his last invertebrate paleontology class. The classroom was packed. Typically the class had 15 students or less, it was a geology majors class, senior or graduate level (I was a grad student). . .but we all knew that it was Cal’s last IP class. He ended up splitting the lab into two informal sections, which didn’t matter, we could all come into the lab and look at the samples outside of class time. If we had a question outside of that time, well, Cal was usually in his office during the day. Wonderful class, terrific instructor, and I feel that the universe blessed me, being there, then.

  7. billseymour says

    What I’ve noticed about lots of meetings that I’ve attended is that, although there’s usually somebody who’s nominally in charge, nobody takes charge.  There’s this idea that everybody gets to say whatever they want to say, and so nobody ever gets shut up.  One effect is that people say the same damn thing over and over again because they like to hear themselves talk, and so the meeting just goes on and on without accomplishing very much.  Another effect is that nobody gets stopped from interrupting, and so ultimately, biggest mouth wins.

    My experience is in business.  Does it work that way in academic meetings as well?

  8. TGAP Dad says

    Meetings will ultimately be the downfall of our society, I am convinced. It’s the one thing that’s remained consistent between my 16 years in private sector, and 19 in the public. I’ve also resolved to self-immolation the next time I have to sit through a powerpoint presentation consisting of nothing but bullet points, with the presenter only reading them to us. This considerably shortens my life expectancy.

  9. redwood says

    I was forced to retire from my university here in Japan three years ago because of my age (65), but was allowed to continue teaching part-time. It was bliss. Just teaching, no meetings. Yes, Japanese unis have boring as fuck meetings, too. I’m now fully retired and while I miss talking with my students, I don’t miss going to meetings and filling out forms.

  10. says

    PZ, are they so absurd that they demand a ‘doctor’s note’ for you to ignore these exercise in wasting oxygen?
    I’ve been in a few business meetings that were endless blithering communicating nothing meaningful while standing next to a screen with a ‘powerpointless’ presentation. These are as we’ve written: “Sadly, another victory of style over substance”.

  11. says

    @13 PZ Myers wrote: Retirement for me would mean 100% spiders 100% of the time.
    I reply: PZ, I hope that you will soon be able to retire: speaking figuratively only, to avoid pain, ‘take the money and run’. It will be a major loss for the university and especially for your students, but, you’ve earned it!