Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rocking the Passive Voice XVI

A while back I flagged the way the word "unable" gets used in PFOs. As in, "we regret that we are unable to blah blah blah." But the PFO I was talking about was for a piece of writing, not a job application, and at the time I couldn't remember having seen any "unable" PFOs in my thick, thick stack of PFOs for jobs.

Well, seek and ye shall find! There are so many fucking PFOs in my collection, I'm sure I've got at least one of every kind. So here's some sweet "unable" action:

Many thanks for your interest in the advertised tenure-track position in the Department of [Blah, Blah, Blah]. Our search process is now complete, and we are unable to offer you a position at this time. We are grateful for the opportunity to consider your credentials, and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Best wishes,

[Blah, Blah, Blah].

First, it's always nice to see the effort they've put into personalizing the form e-mail. "Hello." Last time I checked, that wasn't my fucking name. And this comes from a department with a pretty serious reputation for various kinds of formal philosophy. You'd think there'd be someone around who could figure out the mail merge. I guess not, though. Apparently, they're all still learning how to do e-mails.

But of course here's the real action: "Our search process is now complete, and we are unable to offer you a position at this time." I suppose in some sense they would be unable to offer me a position if they've finished their search process and hired someone. It's not like their deans are likely to let them hire me on top of whoever else they got. But then again, they don't actually say they've hired anyone. Is the search now complete because it was unsuccessful and called off? We might never know.

But suppose they did hire someone. Then really, that little "unable" claim is complete and total bullshit. (I know. I'm as shocked as you are.) There wasn't any unstoppable power keeping them from hiring me instead of whoever else they hired. So in fact, the the truth is the exact opposite of what they say: they we perfectly able to give me a job. They just chose not to. Why not just fucking say that? Is it so hard to own up to?

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