Saturday, May 31, 2008

The People of State College Part Four: Movie Ticket seller

The only theater near downtown State College is independant. It shows foreign films.

So anyway, about a week ago I was in the mood for a movie. The independant theater wouldn't do because as much as I enjoy feeling sophisticated and superior, at the time I wanted to be entertained. I looked at a map online and discovered that there was a movie theater within 2.3 miles of my apartment. This was a walkable distance(since I don't have a car, it had to be). I wanted to go see Baby Mama, the new Tina Fey movie. The movie started at seven. I left my apartment at 5:40 pm. On the way I tried to take several shortcuts. This was a mistake as Central Pennsylvanians are very fond of dead ends. I backtracked and decided to stick to College Avenue. There were no sidewalks but it was not a dead end.

I know I can walk a mile in about 20-25 minutes. By the time an hour passed and I did not seem like I was close to Carmike Cinema 6 I started to get nervous. I passed several grumpy looking people but I finally found somebody who looked friendly enough to ask for directions. I asked for directions. I actually did this several times. Everyone told me the theater was not far. They all seemed to think I had a car... which made sense inside convenient stores connected to gas stations but did not make sense when I asked people on the street. They may have been blind? I'm not sure that excuse is legit. I think more likely they were so unused to the idea of some one going to a movie theater without a car that they assumed I had one that was invisible.

Forty minutes later I arrived at a movie theater (not Carmike Cinema 6). The road signs heading back toward my apartment said "State College: 4 miles". I was very tired and it was getting late and there were no sidewalks on the way back and Pennsylvania drivers are crazy. But I had come this far so I bought a ticket. The cashier sold me a ticket to the new Indiana Jones movie. The ticket itself was a very flimsy strip of paper about a centimeter wide and two and a half centimeters long. I said to the cashier "really, this is a ticket" He told me "Yeah, so hold onto that, be careful with it" He said it like I was a child and then turned back to his friend. He also sold me a student ticket but never checked my ID. And nobody ever looked at that flimsy strip of a ticket anyways. So even though I heeded that guys warning and was extra careful with the ticket, it never did any good.

The People of State College Part Three: Postal Guy Number Two

After my first visit to the post office I was dying to go back.  As luck would have it shortly thereafter I had another package to send.  I headed on down there expecting to have another run in with Postal Guy Number One.  Instead I had my first meeting with postal guy number two.

My friend Taruna had recently given me a Vans t-shirt and a Yankees t-shirt.  On that day I was wearing the yankees t-shirt.   I walked up to the booth and explained to the guy that I needed to send a package but I hadn't wrapped it yet because I wanted to put the receipt inside.  He told me "I'm sorry sir, the yankee line is two booths down."  However, he was the only clerk in the place and there were no other booths.  He said some other jokes too which were funny but which I don't remember.

So anyway, I sent the package.  Apparently these two postal clerks work as a team and are really cracker jacks.  My conservative labmate told me that if you go in during the school year when the post office is busy and there's a line those guys will hold up a sign that says something quirky like "nice shoes".  He also told me that the US Post Office was going to shut down that branch and there was a big student protest.  The students position was that they relieved their stress by going to the post office...  and please don't take it away from them.  I'm not sure if that's true or not because I think my conservative labmate often makes stuff up.

The People of State College Part Two: Friendly Janitor

On the second day I got to State College I met my building's janitor.  She is a very interesting person.  She talks to me often.  She told me her janitor cart is her desk and that if anybody wanted anything on it they should come to  her and not take it.  This makes sense to me.  However, she snagged me as I was walking in the hallway to tell me this and she spent fifteen minutes to say it.  Before I had never looked at her cart or considered stealing from it, but now I am always tempted.  

She told me about the upcoming arts festival in state college.  She said one time she saw some well crafted dolls that she mistook for people at it.  She thought they were in line at a booth so she didn't go up to that booth.  

She has worked here many years and was almost certainly here when my research advisor in New York used to be in this department.  She does not provide for as many funny stories as some of the other people I've met here but she is still cool.  I prefer her to the janitors at Columbia.  She's friendly  to the students.  She doesn't sit hiding in an empty classroom for half the morning either.

The People of State College Part One: Postal Guy Number One

So I went to the Post office the other day.  There was only one person in front of me in line.  He left and I went up to the postal clerk and said "I need to mail this package to New York City".  He said "I can help you with that buddy... just stay calm, we're going to get through this."  I thought this was an odd thing to say, because I am a very calm person.  Him saying that made me self conscious about my calmness and in the act of trying to appear more calm I became a little less calm.  He then said "I need you to tape this package up, but do so carefully".  He directed me to some tape lying on the countertop.  I was slightly flustered at this point but determined to tape the package well.  I walked over to the tape and began.  

While I was taping other customers came and left.  I heard the postal clerk tell one guy "Connecticut huh...  So you are actually allowed to drive."  This was after checking his driver license for ID.  He made a good point: Should people from Connecticut be allowed to drive? 

 After I had finished, I realized I had actually used more tape than was necessary.  "You did a good job there buddy."  He said, "We're going to get through this."  He also told me that I would not need to take his remedial taping class and that he was very surprised I had done so well because he had not expected it.  The compliments put me at ease.  He entered the address I was sending the package to in the computer and told me that it would cost five dollars.  "But are there not options for how fast I want to send it," I asked,  "because I need to send it overnight."  He said, "you don't want to do that buddy.  We'll just send it regular priority."  He then continued getting the package sent as he wished it to be sent.  

This was a problem for me because I needed overnight on orders from the post doc who was in charge of me.  After some debate, I was able to convince him to allow me to send it overnight.  This was after I told him that I would get reimbursed for the extra cost.  "I'll send if for you," he said.  "There not going to reimburse you buddy.  They never do, but if it really has to be overnight then I'll send it overnight for you."  This ended up adding slightly more than fifteen dollars to the cost.  Then I left.  I had made it through my first State College postal visit.  

P.S.  I will make it known whether I get reimbursed or not.  So far it is a no go, but these things take time.


I have never had a blog before. However, I have also never had anything published and I don't have anything meaningful to say... so I am clearly qualified to blog. I intend to devote large sections of this blog to people that I meet who are far more interesting than myself (but not as interesting as the readers of this blog). Since this is a blog, a fair portion of it will also be devoted to random ramblings.  Finally, an occasional book or movie review will be thrown in. But first I must briefly introduce myself:


I am a graduate student studying at Penn State for the Summer. My (more) permanent home is  New York City. I have brown hair. And green eyes with brown specks. I was raised a west coast kid. I'm very progressive. I am studying chemistry.  Based on my incoming class of graduate students there is a 25% chance I am female and a 75% chance I am male.

I didn't bring my camera from New York City but I think I can take a picture off facebook if any one is interested (conveniently all of those pictures are from before my face became horribly disfigured in a chemical accident). That last sentence was a joke and I just realized that some reader's face may have been disfigured in a chemical accident. If that is the case, sorry for being insensitive.

Human decency is okay I guess. I prefer a pretense of decency and kindness for about six months followed by unimaginable cruelty.

I am 24 years old. I am above average height but not as tall as I could be. I am below average weight but not as skinny as I could be. I am above average nerdy but not as nerdy as I could be. I have zero piercings although I am not opposed to them. I do often accidentally cut myself though. I have above average intelligence(notice how few spelling errors I made in this post). I'm a slightly above average gay person (where average is Ellen Degenerous, Andrew Sullivan is way below average, and Rosie O'Donnell is way above average).

Based on the above numbers I have assigned myself a point value of 1000 points. Keep in mind this was a tricky calculation because most of the above numbers are not actual numbers but rather vague references to made up averages. However, since 1000 points is quite a high number of points, readers would be well advised to avoid questioning my methods.

I like to make my friends laugh but I wouldn't do anything for them. I'd need to know what I was getting in return first. I often make fun of anybody that I become friends with so as to build my self esteem. But I'm good at convincing people that my constant insults are only jokes and therefore no one usually takes offense.

I tend to watch comedies more than dramas; for example The Office and 30 Rock. I did see some episodes of Weeds though, and they were interesting. I like to play tennis. I am not super artistic but I like crafts or other projects that involve time and concentration. I like things that involve laughing. I am carless and I prefer to do things that involve walking places.

I am below average weight for Pennsylvania... but probably not for New York City. Also, if you read the boring filler and were bored by it I cannot take responsibility. Things can only be made so clear.