Monthly Archives: March 2011


My Hectic Day Today

Let me tell you about my lovely commute and day this morning. It started snowing here overnight and I had an 8:30 meeting in the morning. I initially thought about waking up at 4:30 to watch the Pakistani QF game but I was just too tired and slept again after my alarm went off. I also didn’t take my usual 7:10 train (which gets in at 7:45) but went for 7:30 (8:15) to give myself extra time to clean the car. I leave the house 20 mins early even though it is a 5 minute drive but the road was crazy slick. I tried to stop at a red light but my car decided it didn’t want to and I definitely skidded through the red light and just kept going. A couple of lights later, there were two accidents and a public bus was stuck in the snow, making a 3-lane road into a single lane. So after going roughly 20 KPH the entire time, i get into the station and there are no parking spots left… and on top of that, the train starts to arrive! I parked where no spot existed since everything was covered in snow anyway and no body checks on days like these, sprinted in my work shoes down the stairs, across the tunnel and up the stairs to the platform and just got on as the door closed.

I got into work about 5 mins before the meeting which started promptly at 8:30 went through lunch and ended at 4:00. Non. Stop. I even had my lunch at my seat in the conference room, only left the room once to go to the bathroom in between. It was an awesome demo and discuss though, talking about Strategic Asset Allocation and the likes with some people head and shoulders smarter than me in the room. I wouldn’t mind working with them some day in New York.

Then on my way home, it took me some time to even walk to my car since none of the roads were cleaned at the station, then another 10 minutes to clean my car and then drove like a slowpoke in the snow because I did not want a repeat of the morning. This time I saw a three car accident turning that same 3 lane road into a single lane again.

I made it home safe though and I know you were worried so I figured you should get a heads up.


Today You, Tomorrow Me. 2

There aren’t many times I end up posting an entire comment from a site that I regularly visit but I read this when it was first posted a few months back and then again when the NY Times decided to publish his story but this is something that just needs to be read by everyone.

Just about every time I see someone I stop. I kind of got out of the habit in the last couple of years, moved to a big city and all that. Then some shit happened to me that changed me and I am back to offering rides habitually. If you would indulge me, it is long story and has almost nothing to do with hitch hiking other than happening on a road.

This past year I have had 3 instances of car trouble. A blow out on a freeway, a bunch of blown fuses and an out of gas situation. All of them were while driving other people’s cars which, for some reason, makes it worse on an emotional level. It makes it worse on a practical level as well, what with the fact that I carry things like a jack and extra fuses in my car, and know enough not to park, facing downhill, on a steep incline with less than a gallon of fuel.

Anyway, each of these times this shit happened I was DISGUSTED with how people would not bother to help me. I spent hours on the side of the freeway waiting, watching roadside assistance vehicles blow past me, for AAA to show. The 4 gas stations I asked for a gas can at told me that they couldn’t loan them out “for my safety” but I could buy a really shitty 1-gallon one with no cap for $15. It was enough, each time, to make you say shit like “this country is going to hell in a handbasket.”

But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke a lick of the language. But one of those dudes had a profound affect on me.

He was the guy that stopped to help me with a blow out with his whole family of 6 in tow. I was on the side of the road for close to 4 hours. Big jeep, blown rear tire, had a spare but no jack. I had signs in the windows of the car, big signs that said NEED A JACK and offered money. No dice. Right as I am about to give up and just hitch out there a van pulls over and dude bounds out. He sizes the situation up and calls for his youngest daughter who speaks english. He conveys through her that he has a jack but it is too small for the Jeep so we will need to brace it. He produces a saw from the van and cuts a log out of a downed tree on the side of the road. We rolled it over, put his jack on top, and bam, in business. I start taking the wheel off and, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones and I wasn’t careful and I snapped the head I needed clean off. Fuck.

No worries, he runs to the van, gives it to his wife and she is gone in a flash, down the road to buy a tire iron. She is back in 15 minutes, we finish the job with a little sweat and cussing (stupid log was starting to give), and I am a very happy man. We are both filthy and sweaty. The wife produces a large water jug for us to wash our hands in. I tried to put a 20 in the man’s hand but he wouldn’t take it so I instead gave it to his wife as quietly as I could. I thanked them up one side and down the other. I asked the little girl where they lived, thinking maybe I could send them a gift for being so awesome. She says they live in Mexico. They are here so mommy and daddy can pick peaches for the next few weeks. After that they are going to pick cherries then go back home. She asks if I have had lunch and when I told her no she gave me a tamale from their cooler, the best fucking tamale I have ever had.

So, to clarify, a family that is undoubtedly poorer than you, me, and just about everyone else on that stretch of road, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took an hour or two out of their day to help some strange dude on the side of the road when people in tow trucks were just passing me by. Wow…

But we aren’t done yet. I thank them again and walk back to my car and open the foil on the tamale cause I am starving at this point and what do I find inside? My fucking $20 bill! I whirl around and run up to the van and the guy rolls his window down. He sees the $20 in my hand and just shaking his head no like he won’t take it. All I can think to say is “Por Favor, Por Favor, Por Favor” with my hands out. Dude just smiles, shakes his head and, with what looked like great concentration, tried his hardest to speak to me in English:

“Today you…. tomorrow me.”

Rolled up his window, drove away, his daughter waving to me in the rear view. I sat in my car eating the best fucking tamale of all time and I just cried. Like a little girl. It has been a rough year and nothing has broke my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn’t deal.

In the 5 months since I have changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and, once, went 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won’t accept money. Every time I tell them the same thing when we are through:

“Today you…. tomorrow me.”


Talking With High School Kids 2

Last year, I was contacted by my high school to gauge interest if I would be interested in coming back and speaking to the current students about my transition from high school to university and eventually to professional life. My limited flexibility in my schedule due to just starting a new job didn’t allow me to make the trip last year but I was finally able to do it earlier last week when my scheduled trip home fit both of our schedules.

Let me explain my high school first. The Middlesex County Academy for Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies was established in 2000 and I was part of the 2nd class to enter the institution. Each year, the school only accepts 40 students from the entire county and stops replacing them if they leave after sophomore year. I ended up graduating with only 32 students but just from that select group alone we have people working internationally, have had some enrolled in Ivy League schools, a couple going for their PHDs and not to mention the various types of fields in the industry we have managed to penetrate. Let me also say I was fortunate to have Christine volunteer to come speak with me as well as it provided an excellent balance for two people who started in the same place and have gone on to take completely opposite routes since and still be enjoying what they do professionally.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the talk as I didn’t know too many of them beforehand since we have been out of that building for almost 6 years now but it continued to be more productive as the day progressed. The seniors seemed far more reserved compared to the barrage of questions and feedback we received from the juniors afterwards but they did come back with requests to talk to alums who had taken certain paths and to the best of our abilities, we have put all in touch with someone within a matter of days.

Since the talk, we have started to take the first concrete steps towards founding an Academy Alumni Foundation which I think will go a long way in connecting not only the alumni with each other but also serve as a strong foundation for the current students looking to take the next step in their educational or professional careers. I have already heard from excited alumni who are asking about how they can help and hopefully this type of activity still exists once the association is up and running – which shouldn’t be too far into the future (barring any setbacks).

For those that went to my high school and have not yet filled out the Alumni information form, please do so here. In under a week now, we have been able to get nearly 50% of all graduates already spanning over six years and hopefully that trend continues so we can officially launch in the near future.