Posted By Caulimovirus on March 12, 2009
“What A Good Place To Be”
.: Last December I applied to three graduate schools: Baylor, Purdue, and Rutgers. There were more, but I never completed their applications. Since then, Baylor accepted me, Purdue rejected me, and Rutgers invited me for an interview. Now, Baylor’s offer is nigh unbeatable: nice stipend, wonderful work environment, and a sweet program that aligns exactly with my interests. Nevertheless my professor, swell guy that he is, urged me to visit Rutgers anyway, saying that I deserve to fully realize my options. All of this explains why I woke up at 4:45 am this morning to catch a flight to Newark.
.: My otherwise event-free episode at the airport was punctuated by a loud fatherly type who announced to those who cared to receive the news that he could not find his “got damn cellphone” (the Lord’s name surely altered so as to avoid offense). Later, when he and the rest of his tribe were removing their coats and shoes, I glanced at the youngest boy as he tried with no mind for haste to finish his root beer. “Marley” — it could have been Marvin or Martin — “what are you doing? Throw that away!”
.: Poor Marley. His bag was already on the conveyor, and the nearest trash can was three meters backwards. What’s more, he still hadn’t removed his shoes! Marley’s
trivial mistake exceedingly poor judgment prompted his father to decry, “Got damnit Marley! Hurry on! You’re keeping everyone waiting! You do this every time!” Unable to dispose of his root beer, remove his shoes, and accept his father’s destructive criticism all at once, Marley froze, and for a moment the creeping line crept slightly slower.
.: Marley — if you’re reading this — I know your father only from the few words he wished to share with all of us, but you have my assurance that you need not listen to anything he has to say, ever.
.: After I sneaked through security theater with my 3.5 ounces of colloidal emulsion, I waited nervously at gate for somebody I didn’t know to not arrive. The flight was overbooked by one and I was first on the list for standby. Though it is wrong to celebrate the misfortune of others, I do wish to thank whoever didn’t show up for their first class seat. Never in my life have I eaten a fancier bowl of honey nut cheerios.
.: During the flight I had planned to read a few articles by the two professors I was schedule to meet tomorrow, but there are few items read at 6:25 in the morning that won’t trigger swirling migraines or other unsettling thoughts. As intriguing as “Baculovirus expression of the 11 mycoreovirus-1 genome segments and identification of the guanylyltransferase-encoding segment” sounds as I write this now, 18 hours earlier it was as if someone had asked me to read Hindi scripture.
.: Our flight arrived 15 minutes earlier than expected, but fate would have none of this good fortune and intervened to wrong our right, making us wait 15 minutes before the gate opened. I was the second passenger off the plane, following a no-nonsense businessman with an important briefcase. An airport employee urgently instructed us to wait for her to pass us. The businessman and I were equally confused, but we acted on our confusion in different ways: I stopped and he plowed ahead.
“Sir, I need to open the door so the alarm won’t go off!”
.: I wish instructions were informative at the start rather than merely authoritarian. “You doing action X will cause consequence Y” seems to me far more effective at controlling behavior than “Don’t do action X.” At any rate, once the employee opened the first door, the businessman continued his march towards the exit, oblivious that second door would need authorization as well.
.: Gesturing towards me as he spoke, another man said, “You can tell he’s not from around here: he listened to you.”
.: I met with my step-father — the man who did his best to make this trip possible, and to whom I am thoroughly grateful — and he imparted to me all I would need to know to survive in the city as well as the key to the hotel room.
.: I had time to spare, so I decided to scout the campus to learn exactly where I had to be tomorrow morning and how long it would take to get there. My only previous experience with mass transit was in Europe where I simply entrusted my itinerary to my friend Oscar, so I was somewhat bewildered by the New Jersey Transit. As I studied the time tables, a red-coated assistant inquired about my destination. I said, “Um, erm, I, uh, New Brunswick, to…” and with several deft jabs to the kiosk she purchased my ticket for me. (“Slide your card in the slot right there. No, the udder side. There ya go.”) She then announced, with professional concern, that my train would be departing right now so I should hurry. As she spoke, the man in the booth announced the same. Trying my best to accommodate both of their attention, I stumbled through the turnstiles (which I just learned are also appropriately called “baffle gates”) and sprinted down the stairs, catching the train just in time.
.: Forty minutes later I found myself at the New Brunswick train station, overlooking the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers just across the street. Nice, I thought, forty minutes shouldn’t take long at all. Fate, still irked by our 15 minute early arrival before, saw to it that the buildings of my appointments tomorrow should be on the Cook Campus — a 30 minute walk south of the train station.
.: But I fear it’s getting too late, and I have an interview tomorrow!