My Adventures at Public University

 Today is the day I had been instructed to meet with my attorney and his brother, the good doctor, at the campus of the local university.
    Still shrouded in mystery, this was a meeting that was supposed to be instrumental in our legal battles, and our pending litigation against this esteemed seat of learning. I made my way through the bucolic grounds housing all the schools and colleges making up the university proper, and proceeded with not a small degree of trepidation, as my legal council had given me somewhat irregular instructions to meet just outside the front gates and not within the actual precinct of the schools, as I was given the unsettling news that the good doctor, who had received his doctorate and degree from this very institution, was forbidden by law and several restraining orders from setting foot on, or within 100 meters of, even, the grounds and property of any part of the colleges, schools, university, or maintenance outbuildings owned or related to the institute in question! So I enjoyed the pristine examples of mid-century "Brutalist" architecture, and made my way to just over 100 m distance from the back gate, and the locale our proscribed rendezvous.

Fine example of Brutalist Architecture

The Rear Gate

Our Meeting Place
 Here I found my lawyer, and the doctor, milling around nervously. Neither man looked as though he had slept, both wore the same clothes as yesterday (looking rather unkempt and disheveled) and the doctor in particular, smelled strongly of vodka and cigarettes. Medjuck, my attorney, spied me with blood-shot eyes, and quickly waved me over. Even in the bright sunshine of this beautiful morning he managed to appear as though he was hiding in shadows. "Get over here quick" he urged, his beady eyes darting around nervously. The doctor looked on distractedly, belched, lit another cigarette, then, just as sudden; eyed me with suspicion.

 I was told by my legal representative that it was up to me to go "under-cover" into the auspices of the university, and in covert fashion, I was to apply for admission to the colleges, under the assumption that I was pursuing a doctorate, sign up for several degree programs, and enter into the schools on an "information gathering" mission. He handed me I.D. and credit cards that said my name was Umbutu Kiwanuka, a Ugandan National, and instructed me to proceed to the admissions office and sign up for every neuro-psychology course offered by the university. He also gave me an attache case and warned me to never let it out of my sight. He then implored me to follow his instructions to the letter as my mission would be instrumental to the litigation he was bringing against the university on behalf of the doctor, and would finally avenge the damage done to his sterling reputation. The doctor smiled at me, nodding slowly, the slightest degree of nefarious pleasure crossing his face.

Medjuck's attache case
As per instructions, I entered into the administration building of the university to pursue admission to the schools, supposedly in pursuit of a degree, but I was not prepared for the dystopian nightmare that is common to the bureaucracy of all schools. I simply could not figure out where, or even how to apply. I wandered fruitlessly through countless offices and corridors, following vague instructions and chilly receptions at every turn. Finally, when I was nearly out of my mind with frustration, I spotted a tiny hand-written sign taped to a door. It read "Apply for admissions here" and had an arrow pointing to this desk...

Chilly Reception

When I approached and was about to speak, the woman behind the desk sternly raised her hand, signalling me to be silent. She was doing a "find-a-word" puzzle and needed absolute concentration. Minutes past as she poured over the rows of letters, one by one, until she finally found the word she was searching for, carefully and triumphantly circling it, then crossed it off the corresponding list. She looked at her work with a measure of pride, put down her pencil, then looked up at me returning to her original hateful demeanor. I began to state my case...

" I wish to gain admission to this university, in pursuit of my doctorate degree, and would like to..."

This is as far as I got because she was rolling her eyes so dramatically, and looking to the side with such a degree of disgusted sarcasm that I was simply intimidated mute. She informed me that she would not help me. She could help me, she admitted, but just didn't feel like it. I was told that there was a volunteer student liaison set up in the main rotunda of the university and it was their job to help prospective students navigate the admissions process. She sighed heavily, as though lowering herself to actually speak to me had burdened her so that she was completely worn out, through her torpor she glared momentarily, then shot a wizened, crooked finger straight past me and at the door, meaning I should leave. Now!

Some time later, when I had located the "rotunda", or open mall that connects the various schools and colleges that make up the university, I made my way to a small table manned by this fellow, a student-volunteer who was there to help people like me. Frankly I was relieved and excited at the promise of finally making some headway in my new academic career. I stepped right up and declared "I want to get my degree, I want to sign up for this university!" Alas, my optimism was not to last.

"Why would you want to do that?" He asked, grinning a smarmy grin. "This is one of the shittiest schools around, there's better colleges that advertise on matchbooks, man." Still grinning he was shaking his head and looking at me with unmasked derision.

Wise-Ass Volunteer

"That doesn't matter!" I insisted, "I want to get my doctorate, and this is the university for me! I've already looked at a lot of schools, and none of the colleges have what this university has to offer!" I hoped he wouldn't question me about the specifics of my bold statement, because I had no idea of what I was talking about, but I got lucky, he had already given up on me and pawned me off by directing me to booth #437 in the auditorium, where I would find what I was looking for. They were having an "admissions fair" and I could proceed from there.

Unfortunately, when I finally located booth #437, it seemed as though I had been given bad information. I found that it was the admissions counter for one of the colleges distance learning degree schools of business run out of India, and no one there could even speak English! This didn't stop them from handing me brochures written in Urdu, offering me complimentary barfi, and enticing me to sign my name to a contract on a clipboard, with the offer of a free long distance phone card as a reward for enrollment. I had to physically shoo them away like flies, and make for my escape through a nearby fire exit.

Foreign Delegation
 Upon exiting the auditorium, I found myself, by fluke, to be at the only helpful admin. office I had visited all day and in the entirety of the university itself. Here, hidden behind a furnace room were some truly dedicated individuals, ready and eager to help me on my way. Finally!

At least someone's got their shit together

 I was given a detailed map and instructions to one of the colleges of the university where admissions into my specifically chosen doctorate degree programs were to attend, and I was to make haste because there was an alumni association presentation and luncheon in progress and if I hurried I could catch most of it. Great news! I wasted no time in making my way to this well appointed building complex...

More "Brutalism"

I really was in luck! I entered and found many vibrant faces, students hungry for knowledge, teachers passionate about molding young minds, and esteemed graduates of the Alma Mater, all seated in a large conference room, waiting for the presentation to start. I found a place at a table with some other members of the student body and watched eagerly as the proceedings were about to begin.

Hungry for Knowledge
An "In-Depth" Seminar
Professional Presentations
This part got sort of long winded
More presenters
Awards were given, Speeches made
  The whole thing went on for hours. Literally. It was so mind-numbingly boring, I could not follow a word, and kept nodding off to sleep, but just as I had been lulled into a complete trance, I was awoken with the news that the presentations were done, and now we would be treated to a buffet lunch, completely free, and entirely on the university 's tab. Fill yer boots!

Who says there's no free lunch?
delectable comestibles
"Hey buddy, leave some for the rest of us!!!"
2nds, 3rds, 4ths, and 5ths
  I had worked up such an appetite, running all around the colleges and schools of the university, trying desperately to gain admission and pursue my doctorate degree, that frankly, I wound up making quite a pig of myself at the buffet. I filled several plates with mystery meat and other unidentifiable free foodstuffs, eating every morsel, and only stopping when the kitchen staff carted away the hot-tables and the janitorial staff began vacuuming around me. I can take a hint, even if I was the very last to leave.

While I was making my way out of the schools campus, mission accomplished for today, I noticed that there was some sort of a commotion going on around one of the colleges. Police cars were everywhere, parked willy-nilly in the road, campus security, cops and ERT rushing all about urgently. It is a good thing that there was all this confusion and distraction going on because I had eaten so much spicy (and kinda unsanitary) greasy food, that I was rudely struck with an immediate need to go to the bathroom, and since there was no toilet nearby, I could discretely do my business behind one of the many cop cars parked in the way, and hopefully evade immediate detection by using the chaos of this security situation as distraction from my ablutions.

Immediate Evacuation in Effect
 Relieved, I continued on my way, seeing the police in action, trying to figure out what they were responding to, and as I watched this scene unfolding in an adjacent field, I couldn't help feeling that I had forgotten something...

Cops in action
It wasn't until I was safely at home and watching the six o'clock news that I found out that terrorists had left a weapons-grade multi-megaton stink-bomb in an attache case in the main rotunda of the university. It had exploded and permeated the whole campus with such a horrible rotten egg/fart smell that industrial strength fans and a tanker-truck of Lysol had to be employed to diminish the pong. Until they could get the smell to go away and find the culprits, the university would remain evacuated, and be closed indefinitely. "What luck!" I thought, "My first day of school, and already a holiday!" It doesn't get better than this. Then, when I saw the security footage from the university, broadcast on the news, I suddenly realized where I had left the attache case that my lawyer had given me..."Oops!"

My mom always said I'd be on TV one day

No comments:

Post a Comment