There and Back Again – Days 1/2/3

Posted on 26th December 2013

DISCLAIMER: This post is being written while I lie in bed with some serious jetlag.

And I was off again! This time to intern at Facebook on the Security and Site Integrity Team. I was to start on the 6th of January and decided to book a flight early on Christmas Day, so as to have a little holiday beforehand. Though my internship was to be in Silicon Valley, California, I booked my flight to New York City to catch up with friends from Penn first.

My first two flights were relatively uneventful, UA840 from MEL – SYD and then from SYD – LAX. Average all around. No personal screens, not much room and little else. I tried to keep the staff in good cheer by bringing some chocolates for those stuck working on Christmas Day and this had a positive effect on their moods. When I arrived in LAX I had to clear customs and immigration, taking around an hour and a half. Not much fun. Then to my dislike I noted that my connecting flight was LAX – SFO and then SFO – JFK and also not leaving for four hours. Thus after collecting my bags I headed to the ticketing desk to ask about alternative direct flights. Nothing was left on the next flight out, the one I wanted, but for $75 they could put me on a later direct flight and also include me on the standby list for the earlier one.

I accepted the offer and went to wait at the gate. Later, as passengers boarded, a bit of chaos erupted. Many passengers arrived very late holding up the flight, and one went missing. I was top of the standby list but things weren’t looking so good. One minute before the flight was due to leave I approached the desk and overheard that their computer listed one empty seat. They soon called my name but after printing my boarding pass, the computer refused to board me listing the seat as already taken. I was escorted to the door of the aircraft and told to wait while staff looked for the free seat. As it so happened, the seat wasn’t in economy, as per their system, but in business class. They ushered me in and I had just sat down when the head of staff told me to grab my bags, get up and move back to economy where they were freeing a seat by upgrading a passenger more valuable to them. However said passenger put up a fight, wanting to be with her husband. This caused such a fuss that I was directed to return to the business class seat for the rest of the flight.

Flying business class was a great experience. I slept on a flat bed, drank and ate my way through the flight, and even had a personal widescreen tv! Though I wouldn’t pay for the experience again it was a lot of fun and I thanked the staff profusely. They seemed a little amused at the way I was taking the experience but were glad to have a passenger enjoying himself so much. The lady in the seat next to me on this flight was a political lobbyist on matters of foreign policy (middle eastern) and though we only got talking late in the flight, proved to have a fair amount in common with me.

On landing in NYC, I was forced to disassemble my phone to remove and replace my stubborn Australian SIM card and frustrated myself attempting to repair a somewhat broken suitcase. No carry handle would soon prove to be most irritating. I texted Dovi ‘Barry’ Rosenberg, a friend from Penn, to inform him of my arrival and set off on the Skytrain and Subway to reach his apartment.

I reached the apartment to find a number of other Penn grads and students present, notably Kevin Beckoff, Michelle Kaplan and Rina Krevat. After a good chat, I crashed on their couch to enjoy a little rest, for an early wake up at 6AM the next morning.

I awoke with a bit of a headache, knowing I definitely needed more rest. However, I was really excited to meet with Dan Pincus who was letting me use his apartment for a number of days over the break. Over breakfast we discussed international politics and activism, alongside a regular catch up. However the highlight of this visit was seeing the ‘Gamelatron’ with my own eyes! More on that to follow.

From there I headed back to Dovi’s apartment before catching the Subway and Long Island Railroad to Huntington, Long Island, where I met Molly Hutt, my roommate from the prior semester. The afternoon was largely spent eating, mostly cheese and bread. By around three pm waves of exhaustion were washing over me, and I struggled to stay awake till the end of dinner. I was most grateful to make it to a comfy bed and to sleep before another early rise.


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