College of William and Mary Interview | 05/26/04
I got less than an hour of sleep between the fact I wanted to over prepare and I was really nervous. I made eight large packets of information assuming I might need about four but I was going to play it safe. I made sure each was bound with tables of contents, section dividers on card-stock: the whole nine yards. I was successful in this attempt but I just could NOT fall asleep. I fell asleep around 4am and woke up at 5:30 to take Chompy out and to get ready. The morning itself was not too stressful since I was so thorough the night before (thanks insomnia!). Jamie waited with me at the airport while I blathered on with my nervous chatter. Between having really short hair and being scared of cicadas, I spent the first flight (to Atlanta) worrying if I shouldn't have traded in my afro from this close shave or if the cicadas could smell fear. The wait in Atlanta seemed to take a while so I decided just to curl up and take a nap. I miraculously woke up right as the flight was boarding. I had some great seats on the airlines and other than the fact the woman next to me bumped me in the eye with a crocheting needle, it was great. Getting the rental car was no problem and I tore down 64W to Williamsburg with my first good omen, the start of a Led Zeppelin block on the radio. The hotel, Hospitality Hotel, was very nice at $200 a night. There was no time for relaxing, though! I had managed to sleep some wrinkles into my suit so I spent the next half-hour ironing very carefully.
I arrived to the assigned meeting area a little early. GR was right on time (this man is PUNCTUAL!) and we walked over to his office. He briefed me on the jobs of the various liaisons and gave me a chart of what each of them do. I showed him my research on the departments that I was planning to give out during the last meeting. From there I got a tour of the incredibly nice campus and was told of the many traditions there. I countered with the ever-impressive tradition of throwing people into the fountain on their birthday (thanks for all the great traditions, FSU!). I was then sent on an IT Tour with the education, et.al liaison, ME. He seemed to know everyone and did an excellent job of managing the conversations tactfully to keep us on our way. I was asked the loaded questions PC/Mac/Other? question many times and although I thought of changing my answer to match the posters in each room I decided to stick with my honest one. Some people elected to flex their brain at me and I humbly waved some white flags while battling others. The atmosphere was very relaxed. Surprisingly relaxed. What scared me the most was the mention of the head of the Music Department, KP. Whenever someone said her name, the others in the room would wince. And this happened without exception. I met TL, as I said in the synopsis, a true Renaissance man. He struck me in the same way Dr. Jones does--no matter what the area of the question is, he can answer it. Also much like EJ, he is extremely nice. We went out to dinner at a seafood restaurant and, breaking interview rule #1, I didn't eat everything on my plate. I just couldn't do it. If nothing else, they at least know how I am: someone that doesn't eat all their food. I went home and was trying to see the score of the Cubs/Astros game but fell asleep, fully clothed.
I woke up to complete silence at 4:40 the next morning. Sweet, sweet silence; something that is unfamiliar to me in my current apartment. There was no bar noise, no street noise and no Chompy noise (not that Chompy makes much noise anyway). I threw on my jeans and a hooded sweatshirt and walked around the area before going to Dunkin Donuts for some stale marbled-frosted fried-fat and a couple chocolate milks. I went back to the hotel with a couple hours to spare. I took a long shower and reviewed my notes. My eye was still red from the previous day's poke but my glasses were not as sharp as I remember them once being so I went back to the contacts. The second day started with me meeting with one of the engineers and one of the other liaisons. I was able to answer "the most difficult IT question that would be asked", though that was about the only one I could answer with total completeness. The answer, by the way, is "make sure the Ethernet cable is plugged in". We went out to lunch with the head honcho and one of the other liaisons. She was very cool and, like the rest of the liaisons, very knowledgeable in a wide range of areas. After lunch I had my last meeting with the last liaison and the heads of two of the arts departments. The head of the Theatre, et.al departments was a really laid-back yet serious guy. He was undoubtedly an effective teacher if for no other reason than he had perfect control over every word that left his mouth. The music chair clearly knew she wanted things changed and had some good ideas on what to do--she was so prepared she didn't really leave anything for me to say. The warnings I received from just about everyone about her scared me a little bit, but she seemed very reasonable in our meeting. In fact, all of the things she had requested not only seemed feasible but readily accomplishable. We all said our goodbyes and I left for the airport, feeling pretty good.
For as good as my maps were for getting *to* Williamsburg, they were equally poor getting me back to Newport News. I did get horribly lost but eventually settled on just driving east and worrying about the rest later. Fortunately for me, it was late enough in the day to determine "east" and I drove that way until I hit a busy route 99. I followed that in the spry little Cavalier until I mercifully saw a 64E sign. Climbing onto that, I was home free. I listened to NPR the ride back to calm my nerves but the conversation was devoted to the war, surprise surprise, so I didn't really pay much attention. I bought myself some disgusting Burger King before boarding and knocked a couple chapters out of Bach, Escher, Gödel: An Eternal Golden Braid on the flight back. It's a weird book and although I read it for well over six hours, the fact I keep having to re-read sections for clarity makes it very time consuming. The arguments for reverse-logic are particularly interesting, though, and I'm eager to try them out on an unwitting suspect. The time has come, however, for the description of the worst part of the trip. It is so bad and vile, it must be contained within a subparagraph:
As I was boarding the flight, I noticed the vast, vast majority of my flight-mates were of the Army persuasion. They were all on leave for various destinations and their commanding officer was there, hoping to get on a flight via stand-by. They agreed to make a deal with him. They would draw straws to see who stayed for the next flight, on the condition he was not to reprimand anyone on the flight for ANYTHING. He, in his infinite wisdom, agreed. A small, Hispanic guy was the loser and went back to the terminal while we boarded. My seat was terrible: in the aisle and in the center of this corps of the nation's finest young-adults. Their first group activity was to drink. They took turns buying $32 rounds and each had no less than four beers. Under normal circumstances, this would fine. However, on an hour-long plane ride, this was no good. Our poor steward was a gay man in his late 40s and was teased mercilessly behind his back by the Pride of America. As if their collective stupidity and ignorance wasn't enough, it was time for their second favorite activity: The Wind Breaking Contest. Each member was awarded points for one of two categories: volume and stench. In a twist of good fortune, my seatmate was the champion. It wouldn't have been as bad (though still horrible) had they not had to play it in a single-elimination tournament. I tried to play down the ironic twists of them referring to their gas-passing as "genius" while I read a book about the isomorphic relationships between Bach and Escher. The only upside is that I wasn't going to be on the next flight with them, when they'd really be wasted.
The flight to Tallahassee was uneventful but left an hour late. Jamie picked me up on time and I went to bed and slept. All in all, I would love to work in that sort of atmosphere and I think I'd enjoy the fact that no two days would ever be the same. Oh! And no cicadas! That was my other good omen.