Facebook – Week 6

Posted on 23rd March 2014

Scott had mentioned in my meeting with him last week that from here on my internship would keep passing faster and faster. He was definitely right. At this point I started to feel like I was getting into a rhythm with work and just nearing the standard I needed to attain. However at the same time, the end of my internship was fast approaching, leaving me less time to hit it. I endeavored to work hard to meet standard but wanted to make sure I was taking care of myself as well.

Monday’s rehearsal wasn’t my favorite music, and I would be missing the performance of it on Friday to fly to Philly, however the company was much appreciated and the boost it injected was always worthwhile. Lunch today with Jason was had in a bit of a rush, as I decided I needed to be eking out a few more hours at work to try and reach my goals. However I was finding that as I increased my productivity, my tolerance for longer hours was decreasing.

The rest of the week I ploughed on, noting the very real deadline ahead of me. My main internship project was coming along very well however I needed to be executing at a slightly higher level, achieving stretch goals and the like, to really be there. Thankfully, until Thursday there were fewer distractions and I managed to get things done.

On the side of all of this work, I was preparing materials for the course I was hoping to tutor back home and this was taking a good chunk of my time at home, but was very fulfilling.

Thursday was far too short. I packed my bags before leaving in the morning and set off to Facebook HQ for the morning. Our weekly meeting arrived far too soon, interrupting work that I had wanted to get done so when it was over I had to madly rush to complete it. I grabbed a very quick lunch, popped in to wish the acapella group good luck and then set off for the airport.

I made it through security very quickly, however soon realized that I had a few too many accouterments with me and a bag that was both too small and too heavy, requiring a lot of wrangling on my behalf.  Additionally my flight was delayed, leaving me sitting around not doing a whole lot and I wasn’t’ able to get a steady enough wifi connection to keep working.

The flight itself was pretty good. For the first two hours I watched a movie called “After Time”, a cute British flick about a boy who discovers that the paternal line in his family have the ability to travel back to points in their own life. It was sentimental and yet unpredictable making it quite worth the time. Following that I purchased the in flight wifi and got back to work, dealing with requests from other engineers for help regarding the system I was working on.

At about midnight, my flight made it into Philly and I caught a taxi to University City with a bunch of other techies heading out to Penn. I checked into my hotel and yet couldn’t get to sleep, given the time difference. I set my alarm for 8AM and finally closed my eyes at around 3AM. This was the start of a long weekend without much repose.

The next morning, after a quick breakfast I headed to Platt Performing Arts Center where I soon realized that I had left my Glee Club blazer on the plane along with my delayed luggage. After singing a few quick Barbershop Valentines over the phone for people who had purchased them for charity from the Glee Club, I caught a taxi back to pick up both items and raced back to catch the afternoon shift of singing. After a few more hours of running around with the club singing in classes and on the street, I set off for engineering, to meet with a few professors. It felt a little like returning home, seeing so many familiar faces and being back with all the people I had developed relationships with. I met briefly with Mike Felker and found out that I was eligible to attend the PhD open day in a further two weeks time. This made me pretty excited as I’d get to spend more time than expected with both my professors and friends. After such a full day, I chilled in Starbucks for a little while with Charu Jangid, a close friend of mine from the CS department who I’d greatly been missing. She was as usual working and I could only distract her for so long.

That evening I attended shul with the OCP where Valentines Day cards with various sexual biblical verses were posted outside on the wall with peoples’ names attached to them. I was amused and a little delighted to see that I had been included in the display.  Following the service I sat down for dinner with the same crew as I had been having dinner with the prior year: Aviva, Ariella and Louis. Michal was unfortunately seated elsewhere. Louis’ Hebrew was becoming far improved and his knowledge of things growing at an exponential rate. I guess that’s a product of him joining a Jewish acapella group.

After schmoozing for a little I set off for PennApps, to sit at the Facebook table and answer peoples’ questions about our API and what it’s like to work there. At least for Friday night there were plenty of us representatives around so the traffic to me was pretty light. Some of the other Penn grads (Amalya, Lu, Zach, Jim, Hunter) and I ended up playing ‘Avalon’ till about 3AM while managing questions on the side. I slept only for a few hours before it was time to man the table again.

I was visibly exhausted having not obtained quite enough rest, so took leave to nap for an hour, before having lunch at Doniel’s apartment with more of the OCP crew (I won’t try listing the names as I’ll just forget someone). I greatly appreciated hanging out with people I hadn’t seen in already six months, though I received a lot of pressure to come back to Penn for grad school.

After lunch it was back to PennApps for a few more hours before the GCGC (Glee Club Graduate Club) reception. This involved a little dessert, more schmoozing, and thankfully plenty of singing. Our song was fairly vibrant and most of the notes were there too (I’d only forgotten a bar or two across all the pieces). It really felt like a family.

With that out of the way, I manned the desk again for a number more hours before I raced off to the Zellerbach Auditorium for ‘Under A Rest’, the Glee Club Spring show. I sat with the other glee alums, and next to Molly Hutt, my old roommate. The show was superb and featured a number of fantastically put together dance numbers. The tap finale was a little wonky as per usual but it was more than made up for by the glorious rendition of ‘cell block tango’ and a Jersey Boys Medley that made Scott, the former president, green with envy.

I returned to the Facebook desk for the rest of the night, departing only at 3:30AM when the other reps went to get some sleep. However I wasn’t quite ready to go to bed, as the Glee Club after-party and ‘roast’ was occurring. I stayed for the full length I could manage, all of about twenty minutes, before racing back to my room and crashing for three hours before it was time to attend the expo and judging ceremony for PennApps.

By the time PennApps concluded it was about 4PM and I needed at least a small nap so Melody, who I ran into, walked me back to my apartment (probably needed to ensure I didn’t fall over) before I passed out for an hour on the bed.

At 6PM I met at Starbucks with Shilpa Kannan, a former student of mine, in between her meetings and resolved to catch up further in two weeks on my (hopeful) return. From there I hung out a Hillel for a little with Adam and Izzy, discussing various geeky topics such as Bitcoin and Tor, before heading to Harrison to catch two seconds of Shadia.

Shadia Al-Shafei was a dear friend of mine to whom I was ‘betrothed’ for the purposes of passport swaps, and we both had far too many citizenships to keep to ourselves.  She brought with her a number of other friends from CIS and I was delighted to see them all. Though she’d promised me only five minutes, I ended up with an hour of time with them, having to leave in the end to catch up with Steph.

Stephanie Li was quite a special friend and someone who I always made time for. We previously had a regular time on Mondays after choir together and had met by chance at a karaoke party in Rodin. No time with her was enough, but after a long chat by the fire, we both had to go get some sleep.

However, I didn’t quite follow my own plans and ended up in Rodin with Ariella again for a while before a quick visit to Sarah Morrisey and then finally a walk back to my hotel. I packed my bags, set my alarm for 4AM and shut off the lights.

At 4AM I woke up with a bit of a headache but nevertheless gathered my belongings and checked out of the hotel before taxiing to the Mega Bus stop. My bus to D.C was over half an hour late, leaving me and the other passengers out in the freezing cold for a good deal too long. The ride wasn’t exactly pleasant but I managed to catch at least an hour of sleep, before arriving at Union Station in D.C.

My flight wasn’t for another twelve hours and my friend Laura wasn’t due in till midday so I hung around the terminal trying to find a place to nap. I was way too zonked to consider going sightseeing. I was soon woken by a man asking for some change for coffee but I knew that I was pretty much out of cash. He hung around disappointed for a while and we ended up chatting. His name was Mike and his whole life he’d been working hard at minimum wage jobs until he was recently fired, leaving him with no way to pay his rent. He described to me how everyday he’d leave the shelter, volunteering where he could to try and get enough attention to be offered a job. Every day when that failed, he had no choice but to try panhandling and, as today was a public holiday things were pretty glum. I decided to use my card to buy him breakfast and a coffee as it sounded like things had been pretty rough for him, and I was in the opposite position.

We sat and talked for a while till I became hungry myself and went off to find something to eat. Along the way I ran into more homeless people and things went much the same way. Eventually I sat down outside a Starbucks and was reading the paper when another man came up to me and asked me if I write. When I asked what he meant he pointed to my camera and asked if I was a reporter. I said no, and so he asked why I had sat down to listen to other people. After hearing my motives he requested that I sit down and listen to him too.

Derek (real name redacted) had been born in a tough neighborhood and lived without a mother from a young age, and with an abusive father. He had ended up on the streets as a young teenager and had become addicted to speed, stealing to pay for his fix. Eventually at age sixteen he was caught during an armed robbery and sentenced as an adult to thirty years in the federal prison system. After serving his time with early release for good behavior, he was determined to build a new life. He spent the next half-decade marrying a woman, building a family and a home and getting his life back.

However, just six years after his release disaster struck and his home burnt down in a house fire, killing his four year old daughter. He and his wife split up from the emotional turmoil and he ended up back on the street, eventually falling into the same pattern of drugs again. He had been clean for a week to the day he told me the story and had tears in his eyes. He was incredibly depressed and didn’t want to stay homeless and addicted but was having trouble getting himself off the ground.

I did what I could to help him out, assisting in arranging for him to get to a clinic service provided in the area, and myself a little shaken, caught the train on to Crystal City, VA, where I would be meeting Laura.

Thankfully the rest of my day was a little less intense. Laura took me to visit her school, and then to the mall, where I accompanied her to Kate Spade and a number of other stores where she purchased a few ‘vital supplies’ and we had a good chance to catch up on the time since we’d last seen each other.

At 5PM I headed to Dulles Airport for my 8PM flight. My taxi driver was Ethiopian and somewhat racist, but very unapologetic about it. He let me know that he normally didn’t talk to passengers because of this but was willing to talk to me because I ‘was Christian enough’. My flight was delayed a little but I didn’t mind particularly as I managed to take a nap on the seats, being thoroughly drained from the intensity of the weekend. My flight was uneventful; I met two nice twenty somethings on the flight but unfortunately lost their numbers once leaving the airport. My taxi ride home was awfully strange, another taxi driver with too much confidence in his beliefs. This time, my driver was convinced that he was ‘in tune with the universe’ and able to connect to it and that my expensive fare was a result of ‘the laws of quantum nature’. He explained to me that he was previously an engineer but was now driving taxis because the universe had called to him, and proceeded to explain a lot of pseudoscience to me. I stay respectful but tried to correct a few of his misunderstandings about physics. Especially about the size of the universe and the nature of QM. Unfortunately for me, this taxi drive also ended up being highly expensive and very long, as the driver became lost after a little while.

Finally back at ‘home’, I crashed, setting my alarm a little later to allow time for a sleep in.

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