Why I Will Never Offer Don Box a Lift Again...

Rohit Khare (khare@pest.w3.org)
Fri, 2 Aug 96 20:27:42 -0400

So all this last week, we've been victim of this wickedly expensive and
clueful orientation class on the inner mysteries of Win32 and Common Object
Model. Our House Sorcerer for the week was Don Box, an ABD from UC Irvine CS.

Now, Don's a pretty sharp, classy, laid-back LA guy, which is basically proof
that the devil doth indeed assume a pleasing form... for he's a lovable,
unreconstructed, PRO-Microsoft guy. The kind of guy who appreciates
www.teamgates.com, if you know what I mean. And between him and my direct boss
and the last four days I spent in the lap of Bill's well-funded luxury, I
became a bit soft. I even offered to take Don out to dinner to a really nice
(spicy!) South Indian restaurant.

Neither my karma nor my kar ended up too happy about *this* little escapade...


After a hard day of alternately avoiding Don's course to firefight Public
Relations issues and sleeping through it, I finally made it back to the
classroom for the end of Day 1 on COM, the "CORBA Object Model"

<If you're not enough of a geek, trust me, that was very funny. Laugh. NOW!>

"So, Don, let me suck up a bit here. You really managed to drop *out* of a
PhD program, yet still keep yourself in Armani? What are they getting wrong
down in Irvine -- shouldn't they have beaten a vow of poverty into you by the
time you become an ABD?" Well, you can imagine how well that went, so by the
time he started reminiscing about being leered at by drunken homosexuals in
the Tokyo subway, I said, hey, let's spring for dinner. I grabbed an innocent
Indiana farmboy-cum-UROP and off we went.

Now Travis was a little groggy, from having hacked himself to the edge of
exhaustion like a good little UROP, and didn't realize he was being driven off
to dinner by the same madman who drove him around all of Downtown Boston at 2
AM last week in search of an IHOP, simply because we missed a *single* right
turn in what should have been a 7 minute drive... I thought with him around,
my luck could only get better...

But no, it was half past five in the afternoon, and Boston and Cambridge were
one giant parking lot. No problem, we'll just sit it out on Memorial drive
with a comfortable zero gallons of gas in the Bonny. Er, well, not really
zero, just pegged at E, you know. And there was a gas station just ahead...

In the midst of a conversation about Travis' experiences in the 4-H
Electronics club, I squeezed off to a Shell station and pulled confidently up
to an empty pump -- an empty full service pump, since every other one was
jammed. Well, come on, I know my baby like the back of my hand, and there's
another twenty miles yet in that 18-gallon belly, and that other X chromosome
was screaming, "all you have to do is get to the other side of the river!"

Don was like, hey, if it's taking this long, it must be a *really* nice
place. "Sure, it's worth it. Only about a mile of jammed traffic after the
next bridge, you'll see..." So off we went, into the wild asphalt yonder.. at
2 mph.

Between episodes of Don explaining how nice a trainer's life can be
satisfying the vaccum created by Microsoft "innovation", we wended our way
across the muddy Charles searching for Allston St in Brighton. We kept wending
for another half-hour... to my exponentially increasing embarrassment, we
were deflected only slightly from my planned route, which sent us waaay off
course in the chaotic disconnected graph of Boston Roads. I tried distracting
Don by observing that the odometer on my Bonny was higher than the annual
number on my W-2 from MIT. [Hint: my measly General Motors warranty hasn't
even expired yet] Once he got past his amazement that any of us here work for
numbers like that, he pointed out that thanks to hordes of confused MS
developers the world over, he cleared more than that in a month...

Buoyed by that clever conversational feint (and a quick betrayal of my gender
by glancing at the map), we finally reached the beginning of Allston Street,
almost 45 minutes after leaving MIT. We searched up the block, going higher,
higher, higher still into a *residential* neighborhood. Things were NOT
looking good at all. And you know, with my patented Rohit Luck, I noted, "Boy,
Don, we've been at E this whole time. I'm telling you, it's right up the next

Of course, here on FoRK, we all know The Entire Universe Exists Solely To
Mock Rohit Khare (the obvious corollary being, Rohit Exists to Mock Adam). So,
three seconds later, at the crest of Allston Street, the engine died.

I almost did, too.

Luckily, if I were a superhero, Gravity would be my special superpower. To
the vast amusement of Travis and Don, I made my way back down Commonwealth
Avenue with two or three restarts, inertia, and without power brakes. Luckily,
driving in a straight line without stopping, signalling, or slowing for
pedestrians is SOP in Beantown...

With all that, our gravity well ended up right in a deserted stretch of Comm
Ave right into a parking space in front of... a brand spanking new
microbrewery-and-grill. Thankfully, I could at least feed my guests while I
coped with getting a refill. I hopped out in my t-shirt, sweatpants, and
Tevas, and instructed D&T to make themselves at home on the enclosed patio. I
called Pontiac, and after ten or twelve minutes, finally got a tow truck with
some gas dispatched.

I only had one more call to make, one last mission, before settling in a
defeated man, a shell of my Angeleno, automobile self. All I need now was a
dime... which, since we got there significantly later than I ever would have
liked but several hours earlier than the college kids who keep this venture
afloat, not even the cashier could provide. She had 90 cents of change for my

Pride in pocket, I bummed a dime, betrayed whatever was left of my male
pride, and called 411. Rangoli, it turns out, isn't on Allston St. in
Brighton. It's on Brighton St. in Allston.

[Please consult the aforementioned theorem at this point]

To add insult to injury (a continuing theme this evening), it was two blocks
away. I could even see the neighboring Boston Chicken from our table...

While Don and Travis whiled away the beers by needling me like a voodoo doll,
I asked, "C'mon, how can it possibly get any worse? See, the pizza's here!".
At this point, it started raining on our veranda table.

[Please consult the aforementioned theorem at this point]

After half an hour and another call to Pontiac, the tow arrived, a laconic
fellow who had only one thing to say, besides "Sign Here". Namely, "What is it
with you guys? Trust me, E means Empty. Women never make this mistake..."

[Please consult the aforementioned theorem at this point].

Soaking wet, I marched back into the restaurant to finish my pizza. The owner
walked over, somewhat troubled. I calmed his fears by regaling him with the
tales we'd heard about his establishment, our joy upon locating it, and
general praise for its comestibles. Then we let him know the real reason...
luckily, as the proprietor of a month-old restaurant, he knew to appreciate
every customer.

In return, Don and I grilled him on beer inventory control and ther relative
merits of the various competing custom point-of-sale control systems (micros,
Squirrel, etc). We then grilled each other on the parameters of "filthy rich",
a category defined as "a level of wealth *neither* of us aspires to", which
is mighty high. We compared notes on New York, Goldbook, United PassPlus' $1M
offer of lifetime First Class ( http://www.sirius.com/~eps/UA/UA/passplus/ ),
Armani, and SoCal real estate.

Satisfied and geeked-out, we staggered back to the car in the rain. I figured
there are nearly 250,000 gas stations in the USA, and ONE of them should be
available within a mile, but no, there was one, it was packed, and in an
attempt to mock Fate twice, I turned back with a single goal of delivering Don
back to his hotel in one piece. Ha!

We made it back past Rangoli, over the Charles, up Memorial, back down
Binney.. BOOM! Yep, just within sight of Don's hotel, we rolled to a stop
since I had... well, I had blown *TWO* tires on a sharp granite curb cutting a
left turn.

[Please consult the aforementioned theorem at this point]

I for one, couldn't stop laughing. In between bursts of hysterical amusement,
I told Travis to take Don back to the Marriott. I told Don to just go away,
just to go away... whatever sin I committed in a past life, it was not to be
redeemed in a single night, was it?

Well, Fate tried. By the time I staggered into the posh cono lobby across the
street drenched and covered in grime, Don and Travis had gotten lost down a
dead-end street in the industrial wilds of East Cambridge. When I came back
out to my car, I found a Cambridge police car backed against my Bonny...
writing me a parking ticket!! I ran back over and explained, no, miss, I
*CAN'T* move my car. Not willing to put the donuts aside, go out in the rain,
and take a look, apparently.

Well, all I had to look forward to at this point was another 45 minutes in
the rain, winds, and unseasonably chilly weather (see previous threads on the
suckitude of Boston's weather. Where else would it be 50 F at the end of
July?!). I was walking down the median, being mocked even by passing cars in
the opposite lane... Though it turned out, the honker was Sally Khudairi, our
Webmaster! Still grinning hysterically, I tried explaining the whole pathetic
tale and convincing her to go on home. She was quite worried, though, about
what kind of schmuck could be so reckless as to be pulled over in the fast

Well, eventually, I got it towed back to the Goodyear at MIT, the same one
where I got the tires replaced in November after a blowout on Rt. 2 at 3 AM
one Sunday (I had to wait until 5:00 AM for a passing bus driver, since *not*
one car passed that exit from a major state highway... no call boxes like CA,
either). The next morning, the manager already had my dossier out when I
walked in, salivating over an additional two top-of-the-line tire sales...

The final insult to injury {besides having to repeat the tale the next day at
work...) was taking Don to dinner again the next night... within walking
distance, of course! I called the mechanic, who said the tires were completely
ship-shape and ready to pick up. Jim dropped me off in the wilds of
industrial Cambridgeport at 5:55 PM, where I was greeted by the sight of my
Bonny, four wheels and four tires... and four feet in the air, on a jig with
all of the oil drained out and the mechanics gone for the day.

Finally defeated, I walked back to Central for dinner.

One day in the life of the Mocked One for your amusement,
Rohit Khare

PS. $380.66. This is going to take padding a whole LOT of expense accounts to
ever write off... but cheap, as stories go.

Don's epilogue epigram: "This must have been the worst evening of your life,
right?" "At least without involving a woman!", said I...

Rohit Khare -- World Wide Web Consortium -- Technical Staff
w: 617/253-5884  --   f: 617/258-5999   --  h: 617/491-5030
NE43-354,  MIT LCS,  545 Tech Square,  Cambridge,  MA 02139