Monday, October 23, 2006

Some days in the life of an admissions counselor on the road

Sunday, October 15

5 a.m. - I'm up. I didn't sleep last night because I was too excited, or maybe because I had coffee after noon.

5:30 a.m. - I've forgotten to call a cab to take me to the airport. I call directory assistance. They give me the number of a local company. I call. They're not picking up.

5:45 a.m. - I give up and walk out to the bus stop. It's chilly and I can see my breath, but for some reason I'm not feeling cold. Still excited, I guess.

5:50 a.m. - I'm eyeing the Mexican bakery across the street, which, unlike a certain cab company, is open.

5:55 a.m. - I walk down to a coffee shop. They're not open.

5:57 a.m. - I'm back at the bus stop in front of the Mexican bakery. They are open. It's so warm in there, the windows are steamed up. I'm beginning to feel the cold.

5:58 a.m. - The bus comes. I'm saved, but not from my stomach.

6:10 a.m. - I transfer to the blue line, on my way to O'Hare.

6:40 a.m. - Hundreds of other travelers and I get off the train at the same time, creating a bottleneck at the one escalator. The music in the transit area is really great -- an electric violin. After a moment or two, I realize it's an actual person playing.

7:00 a.m. - I'm checked in. I love those kiosks. I go to leave my bag at the scanner. There are hundreds of other bags waiting to be scanned. (Warning: foreshadowing!)

7:30 a.m. - I'm sitting at Wolfgang Puck's for a four-cheese omelet. Honestly, the food at Midway is much, much better than that at O'Hare. It's also much closer to campus, so I usually recommend that people fly into Midway. However, the two places I have go to all the time -- the West Coast (where I recruit) and Virginia (where I'm from) aren't well-served at Midway, which is a much smaller airport.

7:45 a.m. - Not that impressed with my breakfast, I head off to my gate.

8:20 a.m. - We board, and I promptly fall asleep. That's good, because I haven't brought much reading materials. I'm actually at a point in my life where I've read all the books I own, and pretty much all the books sold in airports (though it took 23 years).

Around nonn, west coast time - I arrive at San Jose airport. We go down to the baggage claim. The carousel is going around, but there are no bags. We wait long enough to make someone ask what's going on. Oh, by the way, none of your bags made it onto the flight. What?! How can a plane take off without anybody's luggage on it? Then I remember back to the sea of bags at O'Hare...

I call my mother, who I'm going to be having dinner with (plus Grammy and cousin Paul), and tell her the news. I pick up my rental car. They say our bags are coming in on the next flight, so I give them the address of the hotel. I drive up to mom's house, directionless, without my business attire, without my information cards, without anything to hand out. Also without the list of schools I'm visiting, and when. But my bags will be there at 5 p.m., right?

9 p.m. - Dinner is over, and I call the hotel to make sure my bags are there. No. I call the airline. The guy clickety-clacks at a computer. He says something about a flight coming from Los Angeles. When? 10 p.m. Okay.

9:30 p.m. - I drive down to the hotel and check in. I wait.

10:20 p.m. - I call the airline. They still think the bag came in at 5 p.m. They call the airport. The airport is closed, but will re-open at 5 the next morning. I finish watching What Not to Wear and fall asleep.

Monday, October 16

5:05 a.m. - I'm up and calling. The man calls the airport, and says they will call back.

6:20 a.m. - They haven't called back. I'm freaking out. I call again, and speak with a very sympathetic woman. She, of course, doesn't know, but assures that they will deliver the bag as soon as it gets to San Jose, which may be sometime in the next few years.

7:00 a.m. - I call the admissions office in Chicago. I ask Carol, our receptionist and Director of First Impressions, to read me the schools I'm visiting, and the times. Directions to these schools? Who needs directions?

7:40 a.m. - Visit number one in San Jose. I show up in jeans and a sweater. To my astonishment, no one really notices. I pass around a pad of paper and a pen I got from the hotel, and students sign their names. Good enough, I guess. We have a nice conversation about Chicago. One of the counselors gives me great directions to my next school.

8:55 a.m. - Visit number two.

10 a.m. - Visit number three. My cell phone has died, so no more pestering the airline, and I can't call ahead to my next school for directions. Luckily, the counselors are letting me print out Google maps wherever I go. In my day, schools didn't have the internet...

11:15 a.m. - Visit number four.

12:25 p.m. - Visit number five. Over thirty students show up. Maybe I don't need a suit or promotional materials after all... we should re-think this whole recruiting thing.

1:25 p.m. - I have a little time before my next visit, so I use the school's phone to call the hotel. It's there! I make my way over -- no map, remember, and not much working knowledge of San Jose, aside from its high schools.

1:45 p.m. - I have my bag. I change immediately and go to my last school in style.

2:30 p.m. - I'm up at a school in Palo Alto that couldn't have me during my normal Palo Alto day. Of course, I forget my information cards for the students to fill out. Otherwise, it goes really well. I drive to mom's house afterward. She has my box of materials that I shipped last week.

5:30 p.m. - I drive back down to Palo Alto for a college fair. I don't really know when I'm supposed to be there...

6 p.m. - I make it into the gym with my banner and heavy box of materials. They can't find my name on the list, though. I get a makeshift table in the corner. I was pretty sure I had registered... They serve a great dinner, though. A slow-to-medium trickle of students comes by through most of the night. A dad keeps coming by and saying "These students just don't know how good this school is!" I think that all the time. A few GSB alums come by to share their excitement about the GSB being ranked #1 the week before.

9 p.m. - I drive down to Saratoga and check into my hotel, and get ready to start this dance again tomorrow.