I’m very attached to my money, you see. I always have been.
Nevertheless, I make one major exception, in the case of my undergraduate alma mater. Unlike my graduate school, I remain quite fond of Reed College. I believe my experience there shaped the person I became, and some of my fondest memories come from my time there. I had never before been, and will probably never again be, among people that were so awesomely bright, and so enthused about learning.
Like many colleges, Reed employs students to call up alumni and beg for money. I don’t mind, though, because I feel a strong sense of fraternity with Reedies. They seem to enjoy talking to alumni, and I get a little kick out of talking to current students, for whom I now represent “Old Reed”.
Unfortunately, when I got a call last week for the Alumni Fund, I was suffering from laryngitis resulting from a cold I was suffering. As it happened, the young lady who called me (in addition to asking for my money) was very interested in a career in intellectual property, and was hoping I could give her some pointers to getting some real-world experience in a firm before going to graduate school. She mentioned having met some folks from my firm, and in fact went on our firm rafting trip last summer.
I croaked out my willingness to help her out, and indicated that if she sent me her resume, I’d be happy to get it in front of the appropriate person. I apologized for being nearly inaudible, and told her that if she wanted to get together for lunch sometime, I’d be happy to discuss patent practice with her. She seemed really very enthusiastic about the possibility (hey, some people LIKE patent law) and promised she would send me an email.
I received her email this morning, with two photos attached from the rafting trip. She indicated that she was in the second photo — “I’m the one with the yellow lifejacket and the red paddle”. So I opened the photo.
Holy Crap. “The one with the yellow lifejacket and red paddle” was, as the cool kids say, HAWT. In fact, she was a shapely little blonde with a pixie grin, and a teeny-tiny scrap of a black bikini.
Well, I am male, and so my brain spun for a few seconds like a hard drive looking for a deleted file. It was only when the spinning stopped that I noticed a few other things. Like, I didn’t recognize anyone in the picture. So I opened the other picture. And I didn’t recognize anyone in that picture either. Then I realized that our firm has NEVER gone rafting on the Deschutes.
My little Reedie believes that I am employed at another IP firm entirely. Which is pretty funny. And a bit awkward, at least for her.
When I reply to her email, I will explain the situation, and encourage her to send me her resume and meet me for lunch anyway. If she is worth anything at all, she won’t let this initial misstep trip her up. She should certainly have the ability to recover from it, and she ought to see the value in talking to someone else in the business.
But she has provided me with a significant tactical advantage. Instead of being a fat middle-aged married man, acutely self-conscious in the presence of Some Pretty Young Thing, I get to start from the metaphorical high ground. She screwed up, and screwed up pretty big. I know it, and she knows it. I can afford to be gracious.
And it validates something else. I am in fact both older and wiser than she is. By the time she finishes both graduate school AND law school, by the time she has the work experience I have accumulated, she certainly won’t look that good in a black bikini anymore.
It’s good to have perspective.