Eminent Domain

By Sunday, May 18, 2014 1 No tags Permalink

This was reunion weekend at Penn and I decided to go, first and foremost to spy on my daughter’s new boss who was a morning panelist, but also to go down memory lane a little bit. Turns out, memory lane got a little deflating, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

My daughter starts two summer internships this week (read: overachiever). One is paid and the other isn’t, but both are in social media. The one where she’ll be working for the Penn grad is paid but she’ll have to drive a good hour to get there, three times a week. To me, that puts her in a subcategory of the female corporate traveler known as the female corporate commuter. Commuters have their own rules and routines and no doubt her journey north will provide plenty of fodder for dinner discussion.

She’s just home from college and we had a very happy 30 minutes of bonding time in which she simultaneously filled out her I-9 forms, updated my phone playlist, deciphered my new phone password by listening to me key it in (apparently they teach morse code at Vassar!), listed what she wants for her birthday, coveted my new handbag, and ate the entire wad of lox in the fridge. More importantly, she told me that when she reads about the female corporate traveler, she feels like she’s reading about a superhero replete with a costume and super powers.

Well, dear, you are! The female corporate traveler is the superhero who navigates airports with aplomb and manages one carryon for a five night trip. She sashays through security and thwarts random requests by non-savvy travelers.

Back at reunion, I’m listening to the President provide an address in which she regaled us with the manifold ways Penn is advancing three strategic imperatives:

o   Increasing access for all students

o   Integrating knowledge across disciplines

o   Engaging locally, nationally, and globally

Those all sound pretty fancy, but I think she means: Penn wants to attract top students and will pay to do so; Penn wants students and faculty to all talk to each other (how new!); and Penn thinks we should try to be less myopic and consider how our work can impact the broader world.

So, I’m following along pretty well, secretly mumbling the lyrics of the Red and the Blue and Drink a Highball so I’ll be prepared to sing at the parade, but then I start noticing she kept repeating words like “eminent this” and “eminent that.” “Pre-eminent” slipped in. “Renowned” almost sounded second rate.

Apparently, if you want to hang around Penn you better have some big ideas, some big words, and a surefire way to impact someone, something, sometime. (My paper on Joyce’s overuse of excrement probably wouldn’t cut it.)

After this address, I wasn’t feeling too eminent. I kept wondering what the word for not-eminent was (ineminent? Uneminent?) But they sound like something you might do before the GI appointment. I mean, hey, I graduated from this place. I got a good job. Raised a family. But what have I done to change anything or make an impact?

All I could think of was my blog. Maybe this blog could do all the things El Presidente wants from her students and faculty. Provide access to everyone, collaboration among everyone, break down walls to foster understanding, and ultimately impact change in the community and world (or at least the airport).

Here’s how we’ll know: Male corporate travelers will relinquish at least some of the arm rest and they will appreciate that whatever extra room you have in your seat does not belong to them and their encroaching legs.

Write and tell me if you’re feeling eminent and if you’ve made grand achievements that change the world. I’m all ears.

1 Comment
  • minor character
    May 23, 2014

    who is this Joyce woman? Yeeeeuch.

    Lovely dissection of depressingly pervasive management-speak. If even our seats of learning are infected what hope for less … erm … noble institutions.

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