Tuesday, November 29, 2011

They don't like paper here

Google saved my a-- today. My friend J and I, researching for the course we'll teach this coming semester on the history of The New School, were interviewing a past president of the school. He agreed to meet us at the alumni club of the famous old university where he'd done his PhD. When I checked online to make sure I had the address right, Google, which often guesses what it thinks you're about to write, suggested "Y--- Club Dress Code." Curious, I followed that link, and learned - 20 minutes before we were supposed to head up to meet the man - that I would have been turned away at the door for wearing the unpardonable:

jeans! Discovering this just in time I raced to a nearby store, bought the first pair of dark khakis I could find (thankfully on sale), zoomed back to my office, Clark Kented in a flash, and got to the club 10 minutes early, not a half hour before our distinguished interlocutor appeared. He led us up to a vast high-ceilinged room with clusters of comfortable chairs at discreet distances from each other. When we sat down and pulled out pads for taking notes, he let us know "They don't like paper here" - though we might take the occasional note if we kept our pads out of view. We went on to have a friendly and informative interview (without notes), but boy did those hallowed halls rub me the wrong way. Spend too long at a place like Eugene Lang and you forget how old boys work.

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