There’s nothing quite like living in someone else’s shadow. In my case, my husband is the Chancellor of UC San Diego, so he gets all the attention–plus a special parking placard and a title: Chancellor. Everyone from parking valets to students to staff addresses him as “Chancellor.”
Then there I am. I have a parking placard, but I can only use it for official business, and it does not work everywhere on campus so sometimes I can’t park. People address me as Thespine, as in “Welcome Chancellor and Thespine!” or “This is The Chancellor…and Thespine.” Sometimes it is “Here is The Chancellor and his wife.”
UC San Diego has several hospitals in its domain. Once, I was a patient when the hospital was full. They had run out of adult-length beds so I got a short bed and nurses who adjusted the pillows every hour. But when my husband came to visit, the nurses dragged a comfortable recliner into the room so he could sit comfortably for his 10-minute visit.
Last week I went to get a standard blood test. I signed in and sat in the waiting room. I was 10 minutes early. After 30 minutes, I asked how much longer the wait would be. The receptionist looked up my name on her computer and told me there were still three people ahead of me. Her coworker double checked.
“That’s the Chancellor’s wife!” hissed the coworker. They both looked at me, then looked around the waiting room. “He’s not here,” said the receptionist, and I continued to wait.
Such things happen daily. But tonight I got some revenge: A salesman came to our door. Above the doorbell is a sign that tells visitors they are at the Audrey Geisel University House, so named because Dr. Seuss’ wife donated the funds to rehabilitate the building.
“Are you Audrey Geisel?” he asked.
“No,” I said, “Audrey is a little older than I am. Then he started his sales pitch, telling me that he is selling good art and would like to show it to me.
“I’m sorry,” I said, “I can’t let you in.”
He looked puzzled, but asked, “what is this place?” as he peered past me to Dr. Seuss’ Cat in a Colorful Coat hanging in the entry.
“The University House for UCSD. The Chancellor’s family lives here,” I answered.
“OHHHH…I don’t want to disturb them. But can I have your e-mail in case you want to buy some good art for this place?”
“Sure,” I said. So I gave him the e-mail address—for the Chancellor of UCSD.