Sunday, March 11, 2007

And Crusade Part II

(Revenge of the Crusade)

You know how sometimes you get yourself all psyched for some big, superhero, music-swelling, no-holds-barred sort of conflict and then everything ends up working out so nicely that you just feel silly, like having the door opened just as you come charging with your battering ram?

I was afraid that was going to happen with my crusade- that is, that after all that sound and fury and build-up, it would end up being a simple question of beaurocracy, easily solved by some secretary. So the adventures of the morning were not untinged with relief. Adventures as follows. Omitted, but important to note is that every step of this process is carried out in terror and unidentified guilt and wobbling knees and so forth. G-d did not give me the backbone of a revolutionary (although it would doubtless make a lovely conversation piece):

I am directed from bored secretary to bored secretary to the secretariat of the law faculty, who already knows me terribly well because I pop in there every couple of days with one problem or another, most of them relating to my having changed ID number mid-semester and the issues that spring therefrom. Visiting the secreteriat is always a bit daunting of an experience; they are calm and confident and give swift instructions in Hebrew, and they know all of your grades and like to make oblique references to them. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey, I'm having a bit of a problem with my Mishpat Ivri class. See, I want to switch into a higher level-
Law Department Secretary: Oh, yes, we've heard. You're in the middle level. That's the highest level you can get into.
Me: But...I'd like to switch up.
LDS: You can't.
Me: Because I'm a girl?
LDS: It's not a question of being a girl. It's the department rules- it's all based on your previous education.
Me: I know, but see, I've done a year of post high-school learning. There are boys in that level who only-
LDS: It's not a possibility.
Me: I there somebody I can talk to?
LDS: No. It's over. There's nothing you can do.
Me: But...
LDS: But nothing. No girl has ever been in the highest level and none ever will be.
Me: Okay...but it doesn't really seem fair...
LDS: That's the way it is. Those are the rules.
Me: But the class is really not on my level...
LDS: So you'll get an easy A. You're getting good grades, Tobie, that's what's really important.
Me: Um....thanks [leaves office highly flumoxed, on verge of tears, having no clue what to do next]

So then I go downstairs and out of the building, a little shell-shocked by the burst of utterly confident finality. But it seems too quick, so I go back upstairs to attempt to appeal to the Dean. While standing outside of the Dean's secretary's office, waiting for her to finish chatting with another secretary, a nice lady, passing by, asks me what I would like, hears my situation, and, with limited sympathy for my cause but a lot of niceness, tells me that the thing to do is to write a letter to some committee or other and give it in at the law faculty's secretariat. It probably won't work, she tells me, but I'll feel better if I've done everything I could. (Yes, that is really the way that things work in this country. Most of human knowledge, and all of it that relates to beaurocracy is attained through random nice ladies in hallways. They are the Israeli equivalent of gurus on mountaintops.)

So I go home and write a nice little letter and then print it out and give it in, full of terror and so forth because the letter is being given to the same LDS who earlier told me the whole "no girl has ever gotten that class" line, which, by the by, sounds like I'm making it up for the purposes of making my crusade more crusade-y, which is just what I thought when she said it. But she is sweet and friendly and the terror is wholly unjustified.

Then I go back home and start making plans about what I should do when and until my request is rejected. Together with my dream team of advisors (my roommate, a sympathetic boy from Law, the random people he consulted, the random other people I consulted), the general consensus is that I should turn to the vice-dean, one of my first semester professors and all-around nice guy. He is out of his office in the morning, so I settle into my room, full of schemes and worry and a general sense of despair at ever having this ridiculous thing sorted out.

Which is why the 2:30 phone call came as such an utter and complete shock. It was the LDS, calling to tell me that the committee had decided to approve my request, giving me the number to call to change my registration, and congratulating me on my success. I know- battering ram\door thing at its best, but in a good way. I could not shake off the nagging feeling that the whole thing was some odd sort of prank- is there really a committee that works within three hours from submission? they actually let me in without any letters of recommendation or even transcripts? no impassioned arguments, debates, anything? It's all a little too good to be true. But nonetheless, my registration is changed, my official schedule marks the class, and I guess I am good to go. (Yay!)


Halfnutcase said...

G-d did not give me the backbone of a revolutionary (although it would doubtless make a lovely conversation piece):


they do make medical models y'know.

and wow that was anticlimactic. So what, did you give a whole hadran or something?

Irina Tsukerman said...

Congratulations! I'm so glad to hear it worked out for you... So now they won't ever be able to say that "no girl has ever been there" before. And, by the way, that was a logically fallacious argument to begin with. : )

Richard said...

very good, very good, bucking the system as usual.

e-kvetcher said...

I hope someone is buying you a beer... :)

Larry Lennhoff said...

Be ready for some last minute snafu.

Miri said...

viva la revolution!

(sorry, I just like saying that.)

arora said...

I'm a former BY girl who chanced upon your blog through another blog. This makes me so happy. I second Miri: Viva la Revolution!

Tobie said...

hnc- I'm so glad that somebody got that random throw-away line- I was afraid it was a little too random, even for me

Irina- thanks!

Richard- that's right, I'm just a born rebel...a never-ending streak of revolutions trailing in my wake...

E-kvetcher- my roommate gave me cookies, does that count? ;)

larry- always. After all, I know my school.

miri- is revolution even how you say in French?

arora- Beis Yaakov rebels of the world, unite!

Chana said...

Tobie, your commenting name does not take me to your blog, and I can't figure out why not.

BUT I like that little nice ladies are the equivalent of gurus. We approve. :D

Miri said...

you say it with a French accent. it might be spelled differently, but I'm not sure how and I was too lazy to look it up. but I think it sounds somehting like "rrrrevolyushyohn!" or something. I don't know, I'm not French!
yeah, that was a good description. and so very very apt.

Halfnutcase said...

miri and toby, it's spanish, not french (i'm pretty sure).

vie is closer to the french word for life or live, and as far as I remember you can't conjugate it to get "viva" following french's rigid rules for that.

However spanish is another matter entirely. It is most certainly a spanish word, and if I'm not mistaken comes from a spanish revolt.

and that wasn't random at all.

e-kvetcher said...

Ah, finally a chance to get pedantic!

Miri combined two languages into one (omitting the accent marks) and thereby confusing the general blog readership here.

1) In French the expression is "Vive la Révolution", of course made popular by the French Revolution.

2) In Spanish the expression is "Viva La Revolución", made popular by the Cuban Revolution, and still visible on those hip Ché Guevarra t-shirts.

Both phrases of course meaning, "The revolution lives".

e-kvetcher said...

E-kvetcher- my roommate gave me cookies, does that count? ;)

I won't speculate on the content of those cookies, given the winking smiley. ;)

Actually, I don't think it counts. Here is why. In the first place, someone needs to buy something for you explicitly to make it count.

Secondly, there is a certain amount of fellowship in having two people drinking an alcoholic beverage together. There is something ritualistic, ancient, cross-cultural about it. Like breaking bread...

Tobie said...

Gosh, I had no idea I was opening up such a Pandora's box of language squabbling. Not that I wouldn't have done it.

E-Kvetcher- I'm afraid to say that I can't stand the taste of anything alcohalic and I have no idea were one would go to get that sort of stuff in this neighborhood, which is weird because it's a college campus, but then again, it's not a dorming one, since that's not Israel culture, and...what was I saying? Oh, cross-cultural bonding for me, alas.

e-kvetcher said...

Well, the alcohol thing was purely תיאורטי

Halfnutcase said...

g-d help us all of tobie were to ever drink.

the monkeys would be the least of "our" worries.

e-kvetcher said...

what monkeys? (I sound like I'm on LSD)