Remember Steven Salaita, the former professor who had a job offer rescinded after a series of antisemitic tweets attracted public attention? He subsequently accepted an offer at the American University of Beirut, but his position was not renewed due to “procedural irregularities”. Whatever that even means.
It turns out he now works as a bus driver.
An Honest Living
What is it like to go from a tenured professorship to an hourly wage driving buses? This piece tries to make sense of an unusual transition.
Becoming a school bus driver wasn’t random. I used to be a professor—I rushed my way into academe, in fact, landing on the tenure-track (at a public regional university) straight out of grad school. I put in a good effort to make it happen, but the career felt manifest. My father taught physics at an HBCU in southern West Virginia and my earliest memories involve following him to work, chalk dust and textbooks intoxicating my emergent senses.
“Prof,” he called me with booming approval, his breath warm with pistachio and nicotine. I earned the moniker by disappearing into my room for hours and validated it by becoming my father’s unqualified research assistant. At some point during my childhood, the nickname became a decree. I went to college at seventeen knowing I would never leave.
21 years later I got fired. Now I can’t return.
Reminds me of Norman Finkelstein.
Now don’t get me wrong. Bus driver is a totally respectable job. I just find it ironic he went from someone who was outspoken in his support for those who blow up buses to driving one.