The Road to Orientation.

For those of you who don’t know the DC area that well, the International airport is in no way convienently located near the city. It is an hour by car, and as I found out, two and a half hours away by public transportation.

I rolled out of bed at 4:45 in the morning. Which was quite a feat in it’s own right, and made my way to the metro station. I took the metro to a buss depot, where I rode a freeway flyer to a second buss depot. Once there I snagged the local buss for a twilight tour of urban sprawl. I looked through the rack of bus route maps on the bus, sadly the only one that was empathy was the route I was on. So I asked my bus driver if she could tell me when we reached the stop that the transit authority’s website had directed me too.
She looked perplexed….
Which is not the look you want from the person in charge of getting you where you need to be.
She said she had never heard of the stop before.
Even worse

On the way pass another buss she asked an elderly gentlemen, whom I assume was her boss, about the stop. He conjectured that it was in fact some other stop. But the sound of the engine noise kept me from hearing the specifics

At this point I felt relived. It seemed that the critical piece of information had been transferred. But as we rode around the route I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. As we passed stop after stop and rapidly approached the time that my iteniray told me I should be getting off the bus I asked her.

Tragically she seemed to again be perplexed. I don’t think I fully communicated the situation and she said it might be around this stop. But we continued to another stop…. Convinced that I had just missed the stop I asked to get off as soon as possible so I could head back. She let me off, and I began to wander around in the twilight looking for an address that effectively made no sense in relation to all the addresses I saw around.

It was one of those great places where there are no sidewalks, as I walked back along the route the bus had come in I again wondered “How on earth am I going to find this place. It all looked so close on the map, but now it just didn’t make any sense. Passing a hotel I decide I would try to get some directions.

I entered the comfort inn with a cadre of what seemed to be Middle Eastern businessmen. When I asked the man at the front desk if he could give me directions or a map, he said he didn’t really know the area, but that a man in blue by the buffet knew it quite well. I expected that he was referencing another employee. Walking into the next room, which housed the buffet, I found a man in a blue jacket, clearly not an employee but still the only person in blue. I walked back to the desk to confirm that I was in fact to talk to the man in the blue jacket. He had a kind of trucker look to him. I was told ‘yes’ that was he.

As I asked the man in the blue jacket if he could tell me how to get to the office he gave me a “who the hell are you” Kind of look. Much better than a perplexed look I pressed forward. He told me to ask the man in the blue shirt who was upstairs. Why not, I still have half an hour to get to the office.

I walked up stairs to meet an older Middle Eastern man. I asked him if he knew how to get to the address I had for the office. Looking at my paper, perplexed…. He announced, “ I think I do, but it is too far to walk. Wait down stairs and I will drive you.”


Considering, What choice do I have but to hop in this mans car in hopes of getting to my orientation?

I head back downstairs to find the trucker looking gentleman, the one in the blue coat. He tells me that I could use the computer in the business center to find my way.

Overjoyed at the prospect of looking at a map, and finding the hard facts I plugged in the address I needed to get to and the address of the hotel, I printed the directions and decided to head out on my own to find the building. I printed them out and started out the front door.

As I headed out I started to remember my high school gym classes, particularly how long it took to go a mile. In tiptop shape I could run a mile in six minuets and some change. My directions called for me to travel some two and a half miles, in thirty minuets. I realized in the parking lot of that comfort inn that there was no way I was going to be even close to on time if I walked it. So I figured, why not take my chances with the Middle Eastern man’s car.

I found him, this time near the buffet; I showed him the map I had printed off, which he quickly dismissed as wrong. He said he knew where it was and that that was not it. Remember he had been somewhat perplexed by the address before, but for whatever reason looking at the map gave him all sorts of confidence that he knew and that the Internet was wrong. What the hell, what else do I have.

I snacked on a muffin while he gathered his things and we hoped in one of those big hotel van things and went on our way. Strangely we headed back the exact way I had walked from the bus, we passed the stop that my driver had several hours earlier left me off at, the one after the one we thought it was, or at least I thought it was.

Apparently my bus driver had not been as perplexed as I had thought she was. As I drove past the bus stop I had been left off at, and headed about 600 feet to my final destination my mind wandered through events that brought me here, It felt like a full day, and I hadn’t even begun my 8 hr orientation.


Later in the week, I believe I had interviewed on Wednesday, Jesse emailed me a series of forms to complete for employment. Here it is worth interjecting that this is the second bath of forms I had to complete. I had filled out about 10 pages of paper work for ***** System’s. But that was nothing compared to the onslaught of the new paper work Jesse sent me. Nine Documents, totaling over sixty pages. Have you ever done drugs? When? Where? How much? Do you drink? When? Where? And how much? Do you have contact with any foreigners? Who, Why, Where, How much? List every place you have lived in the last seven years, and list someone who can vouch for you then, preferably not a family member and we need their phone number and address. Etc…

I had a day to fill out the paper work and believe me it took the better part of that day. Once the paper work was finished I needed to head back down to the down town office to be finger printed. Keep in mind that I have not been offered a job at this point. Instead I am doing this on my own time, really for my own enjoyment. So I head down to the office at the appointed time, go thought the rigmarole with the metal detector, and minor interrogation from the guards. This time I know whom I am seeing, so I assume smoother sailing. But then I should have remembered, this is the government, why on earthy would anything ever smothe out.
Jesse did not answer her phone. In fact she did not answer her phone for the next hour as I sat down on the bench and listened in on the security guards complaints about their union. After about two hours I gave up. Headed home, and counted it all for a loss. I emailed Jesse, she told me She was sorry, but she was running late. So we confirmed that we would try it again tomorrow.
The next day, after all the security whatnot, Jesse came down and we headed over to a different building, where I was finger printed. I turned in all of my paper work and went back home for the day.
A few days latter I received a frantic request from Jesse for me to sign and fax a predated ‘PDD’ form. It descried my duties and informed me of my title of “acquisition associate”. Still I have not been confirmed for the job. I haven’t heard from Ryan for a few days. Later that day he called me, and told me that an offer letter would reach me by the end of the day. It came at 6 at night, and offered me another stack of papers to fill out. I was also informed that I would need to be at orientation on Monday, at a different office out near the international airport.

The Interview

Early the next week I found myself again on the phone with Ryan. Briefly he told me that I would be interviewing downtown at one of the government buildings, He said I would meet with a woman named Jesse, a ***** System employee who would prep me for the interview with someone else. While I was still trying to piece together what exactly was going on I decide to get my interview gear together. First I gathered my newly bought interview suit, I took my laptop messenger bag to carry some paperwork in.
The next day I rode the metro downtown, and went to the building, where I was to a minor degree interrogated by the security folks, after they saw my drivers License, and I gave them my social security number I walked through the metal detector, they asked me who I was here to see. I reached in my pocket for the information I had printed out. I had directions to the location, Directions to the second location, where I would discuss benefits with Ryan, but for whatever reason I did not have Jesses last name or phone number. I was even fumbling to remember her name. Was it Jesse, or Jerry, or Sherry? I had no Idea.
In my attempt to grasp at last straws I called Marjee. “Could you look up my email and find the name of the woman I am supposed to meet down here?” I franticly asked. Marjee, who is by now as accustom as one can become to my frantic ‘I lost everything- please make it better’ calls said she would look it up in five minuets when she got to work.
As some of the slowest ten minuets of my life pass before my eyes I think ‘what am I doing here’ several times. As my phone rings, the ring tone associated with marjee’s phone, the thought passes and after poorly directing marjee around my cluttered email box I have her name, which will be able to get me her number from security. The guards now give me her number, and as I triumphantly call, no more than two minuets late…. I get her answering machine.


I leave her a message; tell her I am in the lobby. And return to the bench in the lobby, waiting. After about half an hour, I ask one of the guards for her number again, to leave a second message. As I tell him her name he says. “Oh, She is right there” A woman had just come around the corner and announced “Oh, Hi you must be Trevor. Come with me, these guys know me this is all ok.” I followed her outside. After introducing herself to me she told me I would be meeting with Sandy, who would interview me. Sandy apparently is in charge of the division I will work for. She is not a ***** System’s employee, she works for the government. Jesse apologizes for being late; she has apparently just gotten there. She informs me that Sandy is also running late, and will not be there for half an hour. So we wait for her to come in.

Eventually Sandy shows up, and we get to the interview. I regale them with my finely crafted “I got a bad grade on a paper and then I got a good one” story, and a few other yarns and they seem to like me. The interview wraps up and Sandy has to get back to work. Jesse tells me that I will most likely have an offer very soon, and thanks me for coming down.

As I left the office and walked over to the **** systems office I found myself wondering at how bizarre and convoluted it all seemed. I thought ‘well that other job is probably about to come through, so this is just a back up, I can handle that.” But alas I never heard from the other job and after a compelling discussion of their benefits package I started to think this could be a good deal after all.

The Call

I had worked my job search life into a regular pattern. I would wake up around 9 and often work out. Watch some cartoons while I surfed the net for job openings, check my world of warcraft auctions and then dive back into scouring the Internet for jobs. Part of every day was spent reading some of the books I had picked up on job searching and resume writing.
After working out one day, toward the end of my shower I heard my cell phone ringing. While my job books all told me not to answer calls, to let my voicemail get it and return the call later, I was waiting to hear about a job interview at PBS and thus wanted to know. I jumped out of the shower, grabbed a towel and proceeded to be interviewed for a position for a company I had never heard of. The call went something like this.

“Hi Trevor, this is Ryan, ***** Systems, are you at all familiar with our company”
Searching for a way to say no with out saying no I responded.
“A little bit, but I would like to hear how you describe it”
“We are a government defense contractor, working in a variety of capacities for different governmental projects. We have a position opening and I wanted to see what you are interested in, Could you tell me briefly what kind of work you are looking for”?
In an attempt to keep the conversation going I throw out that “I am looking for a entry level position, one with opportunities for growth”
He seemed to like this, He told me “ This position is really a gofer position, nothing to complicated, but it would get your foot in the door in a great company. I will call you later next week to set up a formal interview. Talk to you then.”
With that, the conversation was over. There I was, still wet wearing a towel in our bedroom, wondering at how absurd it would be if I started to work for a major military contractor. I really did not think anything would come of it. I figured it was the last I would hear of Ryan. But it turned out I was quite wrong.

A few weeks back

At the moment I am flying over Indiana, on my way with marjee to Chicago. We have had a surreal few weeks, no; I guess it is more like months. The job hunt has been a rollercoaster ride, but a weird one, where one moment I find my self sitting around playing video games and then next fielding random calls about jobs. I am speaking about the job hunt in the past tense because it appears that I have found one, one that sure beats boarders. After all of my tireless applications, something in the neighborhood of 10-30 a week, I have been hired by a company I have never heard to work for a government agency I was barely aware existed.

Last week I received a phone call from Ryan, a representative from a major military contractor. After jumping out of the shower, to grab the phone, wet, wearing nothing but a towel I found myself in an interview for a job I had never applied for. The conversation went something like this.

“Hi this is Ryan from (Insert Military Contractor). I came across your resume and wondered if what kind of work you are interested in.”

Rolf coptor’s from the job search

From today’s job listings.

“degree in Secretarial Science or related field, preferred.”

!!!, Now they tell me about Secretarial Science!!, This would have totaly been my undergraduate major If I knew about it.

Just imagine, The science of it, new thesis idea,
The history of Secretarial Science.

Give me a moment, and I can turn something practical, into something unpractical

Settling in

So, as of yesterday, I have been a NOVA for a week, and so far it seems rather nice. My mom and my Todd, trekked out with me on the joyful 14 hour drive last Saturday. I thought it would be a pain in the neck, but it was really kind of neat. (Note: Pennsylvania looks like a nice place) Mom and Todd stayed out here for a week, it was a slightly surreal experience. Spending half the day packing and half the day as a tourist with them. We toured the Washington monument, the supreme court, and the capitol. We visited Arlington national cemetery, saw the home of General Lee, and saw the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown solider. We toured National Public Radio, and got a tour of Marjee’s work at PBS, and we spent some time walking around Georgetown. As you can see from the list it was a busy week. I had a blast, and I think mom and Todd enjoyed it.

QTF Advising: Or WWWTYT (Whats Wrong With The Youth Today)

I had mentioned that I should post on some of the highlights of my career as an academic advisor, and I will. But first I should mention a few things about this job.

In general I know what I like, and I know quick. When I worked as a landscape day laborer for an intense Buddhist man I knew with in two weeks that I wanted nothing to do with the job. (That story requires its own post) There comes a point with all of my jobs where after work I begin dreading the next day of work. It is a really terrible feeling.

However with this job that never happened. Possibly it’s the hash browns I eat while working in the morning, but I have not gotten sick of this job, perhaps it’s a calling… or something relatively close to a calling… that knows. Nonetheless there have been some fascinating academic altars to come through. I shall share a few QTF moments

Girl interested in Fashion Journalism:
(For annanimity I shall call her Brittany, and we shall call the advisor Ryan)
After Brittany made clear her interest in fashion journalism Ryan had to break the news to her. Politely he mentions that Journalism majors do not take any journalism courses their first semester, and if they could its closed. Brittany scrunches her face in a way that only incoming freshmen can, and looks down at her papers. Ryan goes into advising mode, “ There are a lot of great courses which are still open, lets find some things that your interested in.”
For Ryan’s first attempt he suggests the African Story Teller, in this course you read a wide variety of African stories, many of which the professor has himself compiled on walking trips around western South Africa. What’s not to like? Right? As soon as Ryan starts to explain the course Brittany’s face scrunches up again.

QFT “I don’t like Africa”

(It is worth pausing at this moment to consider the ramifications of this single phrase, I see two key elements, in one fell swoop of a statement our advise has dismissed a ENTIRE CONTINENT. Clearly we can deduce that in her mind there is really no difference between Egypt, Ghana, The Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. Second point of note, She didn’t say that she is not interested in Africa, she didn’t say that she doesn’t find African history intriguing, she said she didn’t LIKE Africa. What on earth does that mean. Is this a moral judgment on the continent, or is she saying she doesn’t enjoy the continent, WTF, a True QTF moment.) But back to the story.

Ryan, trying to wrap his head around Brittany’s truly profound comment tries another tactic. “What do you think about Comparative Government, You study” (Face initiates scrunching) “how world governments are similar and different? Second QTF moment ensues.

QTF “I’m not interested in other countries.”

(Again an aside, while I do give her credit from switching from the word “like” to “interested” we have still said a mouthful. To state her phrase in another way, as a positive we could say. “I am only interested in America”. WOW, if only she could have opened with that one when Ryan mentioned Africa, save us the time of considering any country other than the US of A…. Possibly she just needed to underline her dislike of Africa.)

Meanwhile, Ryan attempts to salvage the pieces, knowing full well that the university offers very few courses that deal strictly with America he tries to throw out some ideas, “How about a western Civ Class where you study Ancient (Scrunch) art and literature.” He goes on in an attempt to salvage her scrunching face. “You read the epic of Gilgimish and look at Mesopotamian pottery, then you read the tragedies and study Greek sculpture, finally you read Dante’s Inferno and explore the world of renaissance painting.” His efforts were however, in vain, for the phrase “Ancient” and already initiated the final QTF moment.

QTF “I don’t like old stuff”

(Aside: We have slipped back to the word like…. We are now using the word “stuff” and in one motion of the lips and the larynx we have dismissed all of history, classics, anthropology, and countless other fields. WOW…)

Left speechless, one of the fantastic academic deans jumped to Ryan’s defense. In the end she left happy, the Dean had convinced her that knowing Italian would be a crucial skill for the fashion world. Dean, you know who you are, and all the advisors out there owe you a debt of gratitude.

Stepping back we should consider all of the QTF moments as a mathematical equation.

QTF “I’m not interested in other countries”
+QTF “I don’t like old Stuff
= Only America Now….
(We wonder why our nation has problems in the World)

Oh and I forgot, When we multiply “Only America Now” by “I don’t like Africa” we get a tangy mixture of a total jack ass with a minor slightly racist after taste…

With all that said, I really do like my job, in part because I like stories. Other moments of note, Letters of recommendation for college applications written in comic sans with no header, the letter just starts, and is not on any kind of letterhead, or even nice paper. Also, Personal statements about how Sport X made you triumph over adversity… I have read this one a thousand times. Finally, everyone’s favorite, letters of rec riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, not on letter head, and addressed to the wrong college. Welcome to the world of Highly Selective Colleges my friends…..

Born of the mundane

Everyone has a birthday, the day that set your self in motion on this earth. But there are certain choices we make, specific actions we take, that were set in motion during a specific moment. For instance, when I held a nervous little quail in my hands for a physiology lab, ready to induce the poor thing with diabetes, my vegetarian self was born. Watching my mother be a laborer for a huge company, my non-profit self was born.
It is interesting for me to consider those very mundane moments which mark the birthday of a part of yourself that is now monumental. The idea that events come to be indelible marks on your identity is by no means novel — it’s very Freudian (and I don’t like Freud). But I was used to thinking of these self-changing events as being enormous; day-time talk show worthy. But they aren’t. Sometimes it’s just the fact that you have shrugged your shoulders in indifference 7 times that hour and realized, “this isn’t how it should be.” Sometimes someone has been talking for 20 minutes straight and you have thought “whatever” for the 14th time. And meant it. Whatever.
This morning as I stood in the Virginia sun-shine of my south-facing window in a high-rise overlooking the world, I walked across my large bedroom and remembered that I was here because of disappointment. This me was born through a series of small, yawn inducing disappointments. A series of boring meetings that go no where can launch you 800 miles away and 15 stories in the air. For months, I saw that people I admired were not all that admirable. I saw that a system I was trying so hard to be a part of was kind of lame. I saw indecision, lack of interest, insecurity, uncertainty. I saw a lack of curiosity. I saw that maybe I didn’t belong.

The indolence of others can expedite revolution in their brothers.

And so I revolted, grabbed Trevor’s hand and asked if he thought there was something happening somewhere else, and would he come with me to look? I’m so glad he did. I think comfort is what you shoot for when your vision is gone and your hips are bad. In the mean time, make changes. If you don’t, life will make them for you anyway.


Well Marjee has been off in Dc for a two weeks. She should post about that. I on the other hand am living in limbo. Typing on a computer on my floor, and sleeping on a futon, also on the floor, waiting out my job. Needless to say I will be excited to be out in Arlington. Of course I will miss mad town, but it’s like my life has already moved to DC with my girl friend and all of our belongings. I am just waiting out in this shell of a home, perpetually saying good-bye to our friends. Rereading this it all sounds a bit more glum than I would have intended. I really do enjoy this kind of long see you soon (I don’t really do Good byes) Well I should get to sleep. Two more days as a Academic Advisor. (Which reminds me I should post on some of the hilarious moments while their still fresh… It just might not be as hard to get into Madison as we all thought…)

Signing off
Teh ReVor