Monday, January 25, 2010

new career options #3

I suppose an obvious new career option for anyone with a PhD in the humanities is to turn to crime.

I have some skills and relevant experience as a criminal. I can be very deceptive and sneaky (viz., PhD in humanities). I learned at a very young age how to move about the house without being heard or seen, at any hour I chose. Beginning in junior high, I taught myself how to palm things, hide them wherever I could, and how to use a credit card to break into doors or windows. [Incidentally, that's a skill I recommend to anyone. People forget their keys.]

Most of my criminal experience came during college - which I suppose is true for most college-educated people, of my generation at least. [College life has changed, and colleges have changed, and now there's far more surveillance and discipline going on for most students to get the full benefit of the opportunities campuses afford them.] A friend of mine and I started hanging around our campus late on Sunday nights during our freshman year. We spent a lot of time in the Art building, which was always open, legitimately or not, so some painter or sculptor or musician, or a pair of them, could get in to work or to meet for a tryst, or possibly both. It took a handful of Sundays hanging around there before we struck on the idea that other academic buildings could also be open - or made to be open.

We spent the next month of Sundays on nighttime prowls of the campus, checking every door to every building, seeing where we could go, what we could get into, mainly for the sheer hell of it. There were odd doors in odd buildings that people would prop open or forget to lock, and that gave us access to almost every building on campus over the time period of our crawls. We were experimenting on how far into any building we could get, and in the process learned a bit about what people were studying and researching.

In addition to our usual B&E activities, we would do whatever petty looting or stealing we could arrange easily. Because we had no money, we used to hunt under vending machines for lost change. One night my friend found a six-pack of generic orange soda behind a machine. We figured that meant the vending machine service people sometimes left surplus just lying on the floor, so that became a major target. Plus, he thought he knew how to use a wire hanger to yank stuff out of vending machines from the little doors at the bottom.

We took door signs from every building we could get into, as a kind of trophy. We glued them on the walls of our dorm: "Rm 218," "WOMEN," "Dr. Shepard," "NO SMOKING" and so forth.

One night we broke into a weird maze-like building on campus, and got completely lost in the hallways. We couldn't find our way out again. Eventually we found a stairway down, and tried to take that back to the ground floor. Instead, we ended up underground, in a series of catacombs under the campus. They seemed to lead in a spider web throughout the place - one thread stretching the quarter-mile to the quad, another 500 feet to the library, one locked and padlocked and locked again leading to the administration building. But one catacomb was open, and it led, we believed, in the direction of the student union. We followed that, trying doors and gates as we reached them, hoping to find our way back up to the ground to escape. Finally a door opened, to a small room with a mini fridge, microwave oven, another door leading somewhere else, and a table and chairs. Some kind of break room. My friend looked in the fridge (there was the foraging operation to think of, after all), found a can of Beanie-Weanie, and handed it to me just as we heard voices and footsteps beyond the other door in the room. We retreated rapidly.

I don't remember too clearly what happened next. Several blind turns and stairways doors later, we were back on the bricked sidewalks crossing the campus, on a part of the long sidewalk crossing the campus that we didn't realize we had been anywhere near. Instinctively, we walked away from where we'd been, doubled back, and then started back toward our dorm - which meant walking back past the scene of the crime. There were a handful of campus police roaming about near where we had entered the catacombs, through the unexpectedly open door.

We concluded we'd broken into the cops' break room, and consequently, stolen one of these cops' lunch for tonight's graveyard shift. "WHERE'S MY BEANIE-WEANIE?!!" he would roar, as we recounted the story to ourselves years later.

There's no way this kind of stuff will keep us afloat now in 2010, but I think I might be able to put a resume together - you know, puff this up into Professional Experience. Maybe I can track down that cop and ask him for a recommendation.

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