Should be large enough to hold a twelve-year-old laptop, a cubic foot of ungraded freshman comp papers, and the four yogurt cups that will be your only form of sustenance during the fifteen hours you will spend on campus today. Bonus points if the backpack is soft enough to double as a pillow, punching bag, or non-judgmental sleeping companion when you pass out on your twin size futon every night.


Always handy if you get a case of the sniffles, or if you need to weep in the hallway in front of your students and colleagues after receiving yet another tenure-track job rejection. Can also be bartered for additional yogurt cups.

Pencil case

Try to find something spacious, so you can stock it with fun supplies like pencil crayons and plastic scissors, and also so nobody will notice when you start filling it with the turkey wraps you’re stealing from a departmental reception you weren’t invited to. If anybody does catch you in the act, try bribing them with one of your yogurt cups. If they refuse your bribe, threaten them with a sharpened pencil crayon as you slowly back out of the room. You may experience a rush of adrenaline as you commit this minor criminal transgression. This is good. Chase that feeling.

Ballpoint pens

These have several uses:

  • Grading
  • Taking attendance
  • Writing your name on your yogurt cups
  • A makeshift weapon to be brandished if another adjunct tries to steal one of your yogurt cups, as once again the forbidden thrill of criminal behavior sets your soul on fire

New clothes

You’ve spent all your money on yogurt cups and pencil crayons, so a flashy new outfit is clearly out of the question. Maybe try repurposing some of your old clothes instead? Use your plastic scissors to cut eye and mouth holes in an old sweatpant leg and — voila! — you’ve got a brand new mask. Now put on the mask and walk to the nearest bank.


You used to pass notes to your friends all the time in high school, so why not try it again? Rip out a sheet of crisp, lined paper and write a brief note explaining that you’ve got a bomb in your backpack and that the bank teller should give you $500,000 in unmarked, non-consecutive bills. Make sure to include one of those fun Y/N checkboxes so the teller can answer you in secret!


There are so many cool designs to choose from, but you’ll be fine with any lunch box that can comfortably hold at least 12 lbs worth of $100 U.S. banknotes.

Bus pass

You’ll need this pass to commute between the three campuses where you teach for less than minimum wage. It will also come in handy when you need to disappear from a busy city street, highjack a bus full of passengers, and get to the airport before the SWAT team can be mobilized.


These are always useful, but never more so than when you’re holed up in a private jet with twenty hostages who all think you have a bomb in your backpack. There’s no easier way to send a quick message to the FBI negotiators on the runway, or to the pilot, who you order to fly you to an undisclosed Central American location or you will threaten to detonate what are, in fact, several dozen midterms that your students failed to collect during your office hours.

Oceanside villa

This is really more of a “nice to have” instead of a “need to have,” but you’ve worked hard, paid your dues, landed on INTERPOL’s Most Wanted List, and you deserve a treat. You recline in your hammock, watching the Pacific waves crash against the sandy shore, and open one of your favorite yogurt cups. The yogurt reminds you of your teaching days, but you tell yourself that you can never go back to that life, not least because you will be sent to a Supermax prison the second you set foot on U.S. soil. No adjunct professorship is worth that. But you do have a plastic surgeon and a human smuggler on speed dial just in case your former school is ever hiring a tenure-track professor. Pulling off the crime of the century is one thing, but landing a tenure-track job in the same department where you worked as an adjunct would be an actual miracle.