Fellowships Are Like Hurdles.

The deadline for the Keasbey Scholarship, an award for up to two full years of postgraduate study in England, passed at 12 noon today. Well, that’s not entirely true. The deadline to be nominated to make the real deadline was today at 12 noon. Having gracefully and fully prepared my application essay and activities list last night, I had only to print, collate, and — oh, right — beg the kind people behind the desk at the registrar’s office to release a copy of my transcripts.

Friday afternoon I called to see if was already too late to order transcripts in time for the Monday. Indeed it was. But the rules of physics, I’ve been told, are only an approximation of the truth. Without going into too much detail about Platonist theory and human nature, suffice it to say that I woke up as early as I could — exactly fifteen minutes later than I had intended — showered (I had to wait a while for Anthony, and I didn’t dare use the girls’ shower.), dressed, checked the website to make sure that it would be as difficult as possible for me to get my grades in time. And as luck would have it, the it was just that difficult. Sorry folks, you can’t termbill or charge the three dollar fee. The registrar only likes checks or cash money.

So, it was time to go to the dining hall and grovel before my friends and acquaintances. Christie Padron gave the poor, old beggar the two dollars she had on her. Stephen Koren, after a little banter, agreed to give up one of his dollars, of which he had upwards of three, perhaps more.

Then I ventured out to 20 Garden Street find to face that voice on the phone. The trick is to remain sheepish, respectful, and, above all, to smile and nod always.

“Good morning,” I started. I had rehearsed this part in my mind before I got there. Always start off strong they say. “I called on Friday, and the person on the phone told me that if I ordered a copy of transcripts then that they would be ready by Tuesday the earliest. But my fellowships tutor told me that if I came here early this morning and asked really nicely and told you that I have a fellowship application due today at OCS that you’d understand.” I this may’ve been a lie. But I’ve also been told that if you can’t tell it’s a lie, then it’s not — at least in the world of fellowships. And she couldn’t tell.

“It’s due today?” There was some urgency in her voice. Remember to keep smiling. “I’m going to have to ask my supervisor.”

“Yes, thank you.” Things were going surprisingly well. They might even press the print button in front of me. And after I explained that I didn’t need a seal; no signature was required; hell, I don’t even need an envelope; she agreed to expedite my request.

The lady behind the desk turned to me. She was helpful, but a constant underlying peevishness showed through. When did I need the transcript by? Noon, I told her. To which she asked, and now she wasn’t hiding her discontent, “[After?]Noon; what’s that mean, one, two?”

Smile. It’s important to smile. You’ve got to reasonable. I was understandably vague. Look apologetic. Smile. “Uh, twelve noon.”

“Oh, okay.” And the crisis narrowly averted and that counts for everything.

By the time I got back to Leverett to assemble my packets, my printer had effectively quit on me. Should you connect your printer to a laptop via a USB hub, know that Windows XP installs a new copy of the driver each time you plug in the hub. You’ll need to send the job to the most recently installed copy else it won’t print at all. There, I just saved you twenty minutes which may’ve cut my lifespan a few hours short.

The copy machine at the Super’s didn’t work. I only tried to fix it four times before giving up only to storm the House Office. JoAnn was on the phone, so I was able to sneak by. Maura caught me and gracious offered up her working copy machine. Eda had already fetched for paper clips for me while I kicked the machine in the library and cried. Catherine came out to see what all the hulabaloo was about as I talked very loudly to myself. “Cover letter, activities. No transcript yet. Essay, page one. Page two. Oh, I should mark one of these original. Maura do you have a post-it note?”

After thanking Maura and Catherine both, and telling Maura that I was not suprised that he was doing very well in the fourth grade, I jogged in flip-flops a half mile to see how things were back at the registrar.

My envelope was ready. The transcript is only one page long; there may be a watermark on it, but I couldn’t tell you. My concentrated my efforts solely on finding another, working photocopier. The nice ladies behind another desk pointed me to a dark corner. There another nice lady stopped her copy job to copy my transcripts. I told her that she may’ve saved my life and ran back towards the Office of Career Services still wearing flip-flops.

When I arrived, the secretary at the main desk greeted me, “Oh, you poor man”, and then directed me to the rest room. Apparently it’s good form to towel-off before submitting your application.

On my way out, I remarked to the secretary that I had no idea that fellowships were so hard on your feet. When it’s time to turn in the Harvard-Cambridge, I’ll remember to wear better shoes.

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