作为中心学院计算机科学专业的十名学生之一，在毕业前几个月，我做了一件很自然的事：申请了计算机专业喷气机程序在日本教英语。五个月后在early August I arrived alarmed and alone inKamioka-cho, Hida-shi, Gifu-ken, Japan，但我最喜欢的关于喷气机项目的故事实际上是《序曲：我在亚特兰大的最后一轮面试》。
Centre College is in, wait for it, the center of Kentucky, which makes the drive to Atlanta about six hours of communing with I-75. The day before my interview I drove down. This was the era of flip phones and printed directions, which I followed faithfully enough to reach my hotel and check in early that evening.
Atlanta was hot. My car was hot. Arriving felt good.
Maybe this is a good moment to mention that for a long time I had fairly intense anxiety around the idea of doing anything new. I can remember one evening in high school that I spent dreading having to submit a paper form—a form that I’d already completed—to the headmaster’s secretary the next day. The task itself, going to an office twenty feet from one of my classrooms and dropping off a piece of paper, couldn’t have been simpler, but I remember feeling incapacitated.
So for many folks, I suspect that driving to Atlanta and checking into a hotel wouldn’t have been too extraordinary an accomplishment, and by any useful ruler it really wasn’t very impressive for me either, but I was pretty pleased with myself. Pleased, but also self-aware enough to be terrified of driving and parking in downtown Atlanta the next day for the interview, which meant that the following morning I decided to walk.
前一天晚上，我用笔记本电脑检查了步行需要多长时间，而且我走得很快，所以第二天早上我就准时出发了。在我的面试预定开始的十分钟前，要想不承认我完全迷失了方向，已经变得非常困难。领事馆的地址是这个typical Atlanta address: somewhere on one of the Peachtrees, and the websites instructions weren’t much more helpful, along the lines of “it’s the thirty story glass windowed building.”
In desperation, I convinced myself that maybe the closest building was the one I was looking for–and at worst they’d be able to give directions–so I walked in and asked at the front desk if the Japanese consulate was here. The attendant got a thoughtful expression, and started listing a variety of other consulates thatwerein that building, which unfortunately didn’t include the one I was supposed to be interviewing at a few minutes later.
Then he asked me an unexpected question, did I know Billy Peebles, the previous headmaster of my boarding school? I did. More surprisingly, although following somewhat naturally from his question, the building attendant did as well. He’d moved to Atlanta to found a new boarding school, but the funding had fallen apart, and now he was working in this building instead.
Then this man, who I’d never met and would never meet again, drove me to the right building five minutes away. As he dropped me off at the正确的thirty-story glass building somewhere on Peachtree, I thanked him hurriedly and jumped out. Rushing into the lobby and exasperated ̉at the elevator’s methodical counting of the passing floors, I made it into the Japanese consulate five minutes late.
As I walked back to my hotel and got in my car, I put in a cd I’d burned in preparation for the trip, largely composed of songs from Music for Robots, a music blog that my roommate had introduced me to that year; merging onto I-75 heading north, I felt deeply and utterly alive.
I grew up in the Unitarian Universalist church, which I’d describe as having the best trappings of religion—community, acceptance, and occasionally even forgiveness—but with little to no codified dogma. There have been vanishingly few moments in my life where I’ve felt incomprehensible blessed, but music blaring and driving northward, that moment I was drowned in gratitude for the man who’d driven me to my interview, the process running six minutes behind, and everything, somehow, coming together.
Benefiting from privilege can be invisible to the participant, and it certainly was to me at the time. Over a lifetime, enough small favors and weighted odds shift the scales so pervasively that it’s surprisingly easy to convince yourself it isn’t even happening.