Sunday, December 25, 2011

"So, Are You Still an RA?"

Every Christmas holiday, I prepare myself for the onslaught of personal questions asked by my relatives: How are classes going? When do you graduate? Are you still an RA? And, every Christmas holiday I repeat the same phrases: I’m NOT in class anymore. I graduated awhile ago. I’m NOT an RA. Despite my attempts to explain what I do, no one in my family really understands what a Hall Director does.

Tonight was no different. As I hungrily dug into my mashed potatoes, Uncle Harold inquired as to when I was going to “stop fooling around in college and get a real job”. Without putting down my fork (I was starving after all), I told him I don’t go to college, I work for the college, and I don’t live in my residence hall, I own it. Before I got myself in trouble with an even snarkier comment, I quickly shoved by oversized bite into my mouth. The only response I got from Uncle Harold was a smirk and a “humpf”—he didn’t get it.

Additionally, after all gifts were unwrapped and the living room looked like Santa’s Workshop exploded, I gathered up the candles and hot plate my parents bought for me and prepared to ship them to less fortunate twenty-somethings without a proper collection of scented votives. However, my mother intervened and demanded to know why I wasn’t bringing them home with me. With a heavy sigh, I explained (again!) that I live in a residence hall and candles are not permitted according to the student handbook, which I am required to follow. I even quoted the specific paragraph and cited the exact passage number. She just glared at me with a hand on her hip as I made my usual piles, items I can take home and items relegated to the realm of regifting.

One of these days, one of two things will happen: my family will finally understand what I do for a living and take it seriously, rather than assume I am a lost college student-wannabe who can’t give up the life of residence halls. Or, I will find another job that pays terribly, offers no free apartment, and requires me to commute. In their eyes, this would qualify as a “real job”, and they would stop harassing me about whether or not “I’m still an RA”.


  1. Well said! There needs to be a script written for Hall Directors, especially in dealing with family members who don't get it.

  2. Let's be honest though, you know that you can easily get away with candles and hotplates. Hell, I did as an RA.....:X


  3. Agreed! I usually have candles in my apartment and it's no problem. Does your institution allow pets? Mine recently started banning live-in staff from having them.

  4. If you heat up the wax on a candle warmer and pull out the wick, it isn't a candle anymore...

    At least that's the rule we follow. Still smells pretty.

    Though a candle burner is essentially a little hot plate, so I'm not sure how that flies...

  5. oh fuck it, my apt is full of candles, hot plates, toasters, and ash trays.

  6. This is a great video to show family members.

  7. I have a pet AND burn candles (and occasionally incense)! When residents (and RAs) ask how I get away with this, my answer is simple: "I didn't sign a housing contract."