Chairs, deans, and provosts all know that 5% of the faculty consume 95% of their time. Now, at long last, there is an early warning system for identifying this annoying subgroup, enabling busy administrators to take measures to avoid interacting with them.
Behold the Dipwad Dowser, a divining rod developed by the manufacturer of John Deere agricultural machinery (Deere & Company) in collaboration with the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.
Just as a traditional dowser can pinpoint underground sources of water, the Dipwad Dowser can indicate whether a person you’ve just met is likely to be a dipwad. It is 96% effective in identifying the 5 types of dipwad most frequently encountered in higher education:
— Pestilents: The core competency of Pestilents is recognizing, and incessantly complaining about, the negative aspects (real and imagined) of everything on campus (“The new furniture they put in my office smells funny.”). After declaring that the glass is half-empty, they stomp on the glass with both feet and use the shards to inflict despair on everyone in the vicinity. In their opinion, happy faculty are deluded faculty. Pestilents consider Debbie Downers to be Pollyannas.
Ingratiators: Leeches envy the ability of these individuals to suck up to superiors. (“Your comments yesterday at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the unisex water fountain in the cafeteria changed my life!”) Interacting with them is like drinking maple syrup from a fire hose. After a few minutes you’re drenched in sweet slime and on the verge of barfing.
— Pistachios: Remove the shell and find the nut inside. Pistachios specialize in offering detailed, wildly unrealistic proposals that they want you to fund. (“Here’s the prospectus I’ve been working on for a Luncheon Meat Research Center to be housed in the English Department.”)
— Termites: These folks wanted somebody else to be hired for the job you have, and they will work diligently, often behind your back, to undermine the foundations of your leadership. Termites have an uncanny knack for spreading rumors that grossly misrepresent what you’ve said. (“She told the Search Committee that she would never approve the hiring of a Puerto Rican!”)
— Litigators: For them, there is no campus grievance that is too small to be the subject of legal action: classrooms that are excessively hot or cold; faculty parking lots that are too far away from faculty offices; paper cuts; smelly dry-erase markers; scratchy toilet paper; required office hours; and, of course, vaccine (and even hygiene) mandates. (“How I smell is my business!”) Their lawyers typically operate out of vans parked at turnpike service plazas.
The Dipwad Dowser is remarkably easy to use. Just point the device at a faculty member you’re meeting for the first time, and let the magic happen. The dowser will sharply angle downward if the person is a dipwad, and identify on its digital display the type of dipwad that has been discovered.
Available in a variety of colors from the Hammacher Schlemmer website, the Dipwad Dowser (standard model) retails for $499.95.
Can you afford not to have one?