Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Drs. Hobo, Hobo, and Hobo, how may we direct your call?

So, as many of you know, I stopped in NY on the way back from Vienna to defend the document I wrote in geekschool. This is a pretty big event in the life of a scientist; maybe the biggest, unless you are lucky enough to get tenure somewhere or win the Nobel Prize.

I have to say this defense process went very well for me. My committee had a really positive attitude and I had an audience full of friends. A couple of you were even kind enough to post an encouraging banner at the back of the auditorium. Perhaps you all could come with me when I start giving job talks?

I thought it would be fun to do something kind of glamorous to mark the occasion, so I rented a room in a boutique design hotel that had a glass pool with a swim up bar. This seemed like an excellent, low-key way to celebrate.

My brother and sister-in-law and I packed up our swimming suits, a change of clothes and headed to Times Square. But apparently glamour is not in my bloodline. The coveted pool was out of commission. So instead of frolicking in a chic hotel pool we were squatting on a stoop in midtown, holding our student-issue backpacks and pondering what to do next.

I said "how come I'm a doctor and Rachel, you are a doctor and Tim, you're almost a doctor and still, we're hobos." Some people know that I have a hobo complex. No matter how hard I try, I always end up in the same old hobo place. It's not a terrible thing to be. I mean, hobos aren't bums; they go places. See the world. By boxcar, carrying all of their possessions in their hobo bag. Remind you of anyone? Yeah, that's what I mean.

I mentioned to Tim and Rachel that I had a bottle of wine in my bag. "Well, did you bring a corkscrew?" "No, but the bottle's open already. Remember you opened it with a big hook last night. "Awesome."

So we sat for a while discussing the hobo ethic. "Hobos are smart, yo." "That's right, dude. A hobo wouldn't accept a high design hotel room without a pool and wet bar." "Hells yeah."

"So, anyone got an idea?" "Nope." "Anyone got a cup for this here wine." "I do." Rachel empties a cup she's holding full of M&Ms into Tim's hand. "Well, food AND drink. Nice job, Hobos."

"Let's go break into the Marriot's pool." "Okay." "What if they don't have a pool?" "Oh, come on, they'll have a pool."

We proceed to the Marriot. After waiting for a "pod" elevator for 10 minutes, we arrive at the reception. "Where's your pool?" I ask. "We don't have one." "WHAT?" "But we have a great gym." "Humph." I'm certainly not going to celebrate doctorhood by breaking into a hotel gym. We get in line to go down the pod elevator. "Man." "Let's go find the hobo train yard," "maybe it's almost dinner time and we can get some beans and boot stew from Cookie." "Yeah, remind me to store beans in my backpack." "Should we drink this wine now?" We conceded to meeting our friends at Under the Volcano, my favorite Earth Science-themed bar. It was a fun, albeit perfectly legal evening. We had beans for dinner, but they were Ethiopian.

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