Another university professor here, albeit one at a large, relatively high-ranked school. I absolutely love my job. Right after undergrad I went into management consulting and DETESTED it - horrible people, horrible hours, utterly pointless assignments, and upwards of six months spent in some of the most depressing shitholes in America (including Huntsville, Texas, home to Prisoner Execution Central). Living out of a motel five days a week with people routinely being put to death down the street is unsettling, to put it mildly.
Finally I said fuck it, accepted that I was only doing the job out of some perverse "duty" I felt I owed my parents to be financially successful in my career, and went back to school for my MA and Ph.D. I won't say in what field, because it's a small enough niche that you bitches could identify me, but I got a full-ride scholarship at the top university in the field for my entire graduate studies. Subsequently I managed to land a job at my top choice of universities, and I was granted tenure earlier this year.
I agree with R21 about the entitlement issues undergraduates in particular have these days, but luckily I mostly teach small classes for grad students and upperclassmen. That said, I'm generally stuck teaching one large freshman seminar every other year, and many of those students HATE me. Among other things, I ended up banning laptops in my large lecture classes because so many students were using them to fuck around on Facebook and Gchat, and I routinely dismiss students who text in class.
Overall, though, I can't complain. I'm actually making less *now* than I was in management consulting 15 years ago, but I certainly make enough to pay my mortgage and all my other bills, and still stash a decent amount in my 401(k). The university has given me a wide berth in terms of research vs. teaching; I prefer the former and have always been granted a semester-long "sabbatical" from teaching if I'm working on an important paper. I've won several grants in the past couple of years for research studies on given topics, and also several prestigious awards for my work, one of which landed me a comped ticket to Stockholm for the ceremony.
OP, if you dislike teaching middle school but still think you like academia in general, I'd seriously consider going back to grad school. Trust me that teaching in a college setting is an entirely different animal than public grade school! (and not just due to tenure - there's bureaucracy, sure, but the hiring standards are much higher across the board) Also, you're pretty much guaranteed a full grad-school ride *somewhere*, even if you can't get it at your first-choice school; in my case I earned it by working for two years at a think tank of sorts in my field, prior to applying to grad school. (Well, technically I took a few classes at a local university before transferring to my final graduate program.)