Matt Carberry (kingpin248) wrote,
Matt Carberry

Tales from the Land of Lincoln

I took away a lot of positive impressions from my trip out to Illinois last week. Both the testing and the interview seemed to go well. It'll be a couple of weeks before a decision comes back to me. Even so, I've got a couple of things from the trip worth sharing.

For the first night, I stayed at a Candlewood Suites, an extended stay chain. Thus, my room was equipped with a kitchen. In the microwave of said kitchen was a bag of Act II popcorn...a most welcome development. It was a nice snack to have while I watched the premiere of The Celebrity Apprentice. What was a less welcome development was seeing, after I had finished eating the popcorn, the words "Best By Jun 2011." I made sure to mention this to the front desk staff at check-out. That wasn't the only thing the Candlewood did wrong; despite having explicit instructions to directly bill the company for the room, it ended up on my personal Visa.

My rental car was a Chevy Malibu. When I drove it off the lot, it took me a minute to realize that it had automatic headlights. The general feel of the car took a little getting used to; the response of both the steering wheel and the gas pedal were a little more sluggish than I'm used to with my Focus. But the real fun started on Tuesday afternoon, only a few miles out from returning to Midway Airport, as I refilled the gas tank. I went to open the gas cap cover, and found it to be flush with the rest of the body of the car. Unlike my car, the cover didn't have a raised notch under which the operator could slip his finger. Nor was I able to get my fingers underneath the cover. No big deal...there must be a release latch somewhere on the driver's side of the cabin. I then proceeded to spend nearly ten minutes rooting around the inside of the car trying to find such a latch, to no avail. Finally, I gave up, and slipped the key between the cover and the body...and the cover popped right open. I'd call that a design flaw. (Insert here the requisite joke about the taxpayers' bailout money being burned, flushed down the toilet, what have you).

I was cursing the weather throughout the day on Monday. That morning, I stayed less than a mile away from the place where I took my tests, and the sky was clear as could be. By contrast, the following morning, I was staying twenty-one miles from the site of the interview, and it was nasty and gray, with the possibility of rain and maybe even snow. Luckily for me, the back end of the precipitation was just pushing out as I was making that drive on Tuesday morning. Between the possibility of nasty weather and my lack of familiarity with the site, I left plenty of time ahead of the interview. Not only was there no rain or snow, there were multiple signs pointing to the building where the interview would take place - so many, in fact, that I joked that if I had gotten lost, I would have to re-evaluate whether I'm qualified to work there.

At the hotel on that second night, two attempts at using both of my assigned key cards failed to gain me entry into my room. The problem was easily identified as dead batteries in the card reader/locking mechanism, and quickly corrected. I had to smirk to myself, because while I worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, one of the random tasks I was assigned was to check and/or change out the batteries in the locking mechanisms of every guest room on the grounds, ahead of meeting season. Those were fun times.

Finally, I have to tip the cap to Southwest Airlines. This was the first time I flew via Long Island/MacArthur, which was an excellent added convenience. All three flights departed on time and landed early, and the service was excellent. Each of the flights offered tasty peanuts for snacks. And the bag that flew free in the cargo hold was handled properly and wasn't lost in the transfer on the way home. The next time I fly, whenever that is, I'll look to do so on Southwest.

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