Thursday, February 14, 2008

amherst encounters of the third kind

2/12/08 - 8:00am - Valentine Hall

my friend Willy is taking an upper level history class this semester to fulfill his major requirement. unfortunately for Willy, it meets at 8:30am every tuesday and thursday morning. Willy doesn't usually eat breakfast before early-morning classes, but he happened to wake up early this tuesday, and headed to our dining hall to get some breakfast. there wasn't really anyone at the dining hall and willy was planning on reading something for class, so he sat at a section an article in our student newspaper referred to as "the black hole" this past year in a risque mean girls-esque article on the social dynamics/composition of the dining hall (the writer also accurately noted where the "nerds" and "athletes/cool kids" sit.

so Willy is sitting there, reading, and this black student (probably a freshman) chooses to sit directly across from him at a vacant table, ie, this kid could have sat at ANY other table. Willy was at first startled by this strange social behavior didn't even acknowledge this poor kids presence. the kid was visibly uncomfortable and nervously sipped his drink.

after twenty silent minutes of Willy being graced with the presence of a new peculiar sort friend, the fellow student got up to go to class. it was unspoken
that the would meet again. same time. same place.

2/14/08 - 4:00am - my friends room

i had this idea to write a bi-weekly article in the arts&leisure section of our newspaper called "the neophile's junk pile". the article would basically be a list of five really new and edgy things. i wanted it to be set up to have a picture and a blurb.

so the newspaper has been undergoing several shifts among its staff members and editors, and i kept getting emails saying that "so-and-so had my article now" and that "it was really cool" and "all set". so i get this email, finally, after two weeks of it not coming up in the newspaper saying that the new editor (second new editor i've dealt with) has decided to cut my article up into a couple of separate articles. he wanted to assign them to other staff members.

Hi, I'm writing to let you know that your "neophile" piece will run in tommorow's paper. However, we've made some substantial changes to it. For one thing, we had to cut a number of items for space concerns. Also, we wanted some more cohesion among the items selected (we were concerned that a list which contained such items as video games, an alumnus TV appearance and a New Jersey music festival would be too random). Consequently, we've taken Wii Fit and E-paper along with another item and spun it into a sort of tech piece. Thanks for your contribution, and let us know if you have any questions. Regards, -Andy

i spent so long searching for these cutting-edge gems and now, after having the article for two weeks, they're telling me that they're changing it all?? are you serious?? i asked my friend to verify that i wasn't being irrational before i responded and he said i wasn't. so i'm pissed and respond;

In the future i'd like to know these things in advanced. considering the amount of work it took me to find all these items, the fact that i spoke to three editors about the "theme" of my article, and that i submitted my article two and a half weeks ago. I am not pleased with the way this situation has been handled. I would not like my piece or anything relating to my piece to be published and will be angry if it is. please contact me if you have any questions. thanks.

little did i know (because i was reading the email from my blackberry) that i had another email waiting in my inbox from him reading;

Hi, You can forget the last email. I think we're going to change things and include more items for your list, for a probable total of five. It depends on how space considerations work out (one of our features just dropped out); I'll keep you posted. -Andy

so i respond;

i'd like to discuss this over the phone. please call me at .....

i talked to him on the phone and told him my concerns with the newspaper. why were they cutting something down that a student wants to write while forcing their sports writers to churn out 800 words each week on their respective sports? i was a sport writer, as was my friend John, and Warren, and others. its the biggest pain in the ass EVER. its space filler. i may have sounded a little bit bitchy when i told him this over the phone, but i thought I was talking to the editor-in-chief because i had spoken to so many different people.

he tells me to come into the layout room. i make my friend come with me. we walk into a quiet room filled with students at computers. so i awkwardly ask for Andy*

Andy tells me that everything will be fine and that it looks great and asks me if i can cut my list of eight items down to five. which is fine. then i leave. this was last night.

the newspaper came out today and i had a really busy day of classes (three mondays and wednesdays, two of which are five-college courses that require me to commute to other campuses). the weather in the northeast was difficult to say the least. excessive snowfall last night glossed over by slushy rain all day (here comes the soy sauce!) . it was miserable and i'm not one to complain about the weather. so i wasn't on campus to SEE the article until just now. let me tell you, its quite embaressing. my article takes up an entire 1/2 a page of the newspaper! also, notice how my byline is the only byline not in type-12-times, and is even bigger than a lot of the article titles.

so i can't decide whether i made an ass of myself yesterday and they were trying to "get back at me" or whether they thought this was "cool". considering the quality of our newspaper, its hard to tell. regardless, I'm still a bit embarrassed. perhaps my initial response was a bit emotional, but his email to me was pretty absurd, too. loyal readers, what do you think?

note* it turns out to be the "Andy" i feared it may be. its this reserved and perhaps dorky kid that graduated a year ahead of me in high school. he's the only 1 of 7 students who graduated from my highschool that i don't REALLY know enough to say hi to. i even blocked out the fact that i saw him last night. but recently facebooked him to verify that he did, in fact, go to my high school.this really exacerbated the uncomfortable situation.


William said...

Madamelamb, regarding "Amherst Encounters of the third kind," I believe you omitted a key component to the experience, which is that Willy, after the initial shock, fully relished, and, in fact, reveled in the awesome awkwardness of this unique situation.


Kate said...

I think that by giving you a half page of flashy, attention-grabbing picture and font changes, they thought they were making it up to you after the initial miscommunication. The article is SOO big which is kind of funny, but it looks good and I believe they think it's "cool."

On another note, why is it weird that the kid sat near Willy? Maybe he wanted to make a new friend or felt a kindred bond because they were both up so early (?) maybe you're's a little awkward

William said...

Kate, I assure you it was marvelously awkward

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