The morning sun wakes me, as Tommy predicted, after not enough sleep. Dorm students are night cats, and I met several new friends including one from Delhi and one who is gay. While I know the biology of that, I got an explanation from Tommy of what it means culturally. I fire up my machine; Willie and Cathy have both checked in, and Tiger reports, just two hours ago, that her flight is about to leave O'Hare. I expect on arrival she will go directly to the university and will contact us from her dorm room.
It's time for me to get ready for the day. I haven't bought my mat yet so I put a towel on the floor and sit on that and stretch. My muscles aren't right: from stress, I suppose.
Ken: Glurmf, what's going on there? Is it morning?
Me: Good morning! Let's exercise and run!
Ken: You've got to be kidding; it's not even six AM!
Me: You don't have to if you don't want to. I'm sorry, I just assumed that everyone is like a lion person. In the future I'll exercise outside. Go back to sleep.
Ken: Aww, I'm awake now. I asked for diversity and I should at least find out what it is. You stretch like on the lion disc?
Me: Yes. I didn't know you had one.
Ken: My friend does and we kind of competed in the exercises.
Ken stretches and does the strength exercises quite creditably, sharing the floor space with me and wearing his special sleep outfit, floppy polka-dot pajamas. Chinups will have to wait until we can improvise a bar. He changes to his running outfit and shoes. Through the dew-covered green lawn I let him set the speed and duration, since I only want to get my blood circulating. I don't need, like last night, to burn out rage or frustration, yet, and I really don't feel up to a hard run anyway. I find one carob tree fairly near the dorm with a branch big enough to support our weight and near enough the ground for safety, and Ken and I do sets of chinups on it, interspersed with running. A proper bar would be a lot more convenient.
We really should sleep, but I can't go against my habit and Ken is jumpy about the coming job interviews. So am I, but I intend to keep steady no matter how it turns out. Ken practices with his new computer, and explores the Stanford web. I do a writing assignment on how yesterday I handled the trouble with Jan, and that keeps me busy until breakfast. Job selection is supposed to start at nine o'clock. To pass the time I work on a history lesson about the campaigns of Napoleon. Charlie wrote it himself, and while I can tell the difference from the professional product, Charlie did a pretty good job on it, I think.
About ten, my mail icon pops up. I click.
Me: Those bastards! They didn't even call me for an interview!
Ken: Which was that?
Me: The programmer job. I didn't put a lot of hope on it, but at least they should have interviewed me; I have the qualifications. So many wonderful applicants, they say; they make me puke.
Ken: If you didn't think you would get it, you didn't have to give them a chance to reject you.
Me: Then I wouldn't have any chance at all. I have to try, but I don't have to like how they handled it. I'm going to read about how Napoleon kicked the Germans' butts and I'm going to put up a mental image of the computer science department.
The next notice is for Ken, and it's a better one: he has an interview in half an hour for the plumbing job. And I get one right after that, for tree maintenance. It's hard to keep calm. We walk over to the maintenance yard together, fifteen minutes early. The crafts area is shaded by eucalyptus trees, with their long leaves and hard seed pods on the ground and their fragrant scent cleaning the air.
Ken: What do you do in a job interview?
Me: I've never done this before. I guess, answer their questions. They'll probably want us to do something, like obviously they'll want to see me climb. Don't get mad or call them stupid even if they are. Be charming. We lions practice being charming with difficult people. It's hard. With all the pipe racked outside this must be the plumbing shop, and I think I'm supposed to be down by those trucks. Good luck!
I approach three men in thick cotton shirts and blue jeans.
Worker: What in hell are you?
Me: I'm your new worker. I'm a lion person. My name is Simba Leones.
Worker: You're early.
Me: Yes, sir. I can wait until you're ready.
Worker: I'm ready now. I'm Modesto Nuņez. I'm the crew chief. You have any experience with trees?
Me: Yes, sir. Lion people are arboreal. We climb by instinct from birth. I'm in trees almost every day, for my exercise. I can recognize rotten branches and can take them off without damaging the tree.
Mr. Nuņez: The tree there, just outside the wall, what kind is it?
Me: It's a redwood. I've never seen redwoods before, but there are some planted outside my dorm and someone told me what they were called.
Mr. Nuņez: See the small dead branch about seven meters up? Take these, go up, and cut it off.
In the back of the truck is a leather belt with a collection of straps hanging off it: clearly for holding tools, and the long strap goes around the tree for safety. A small cutter has been provided. I get the belt on right side up, and figure out the buckle. There are also two cruel-looking spikes with straps.
Me: Are these, like, for claws, to dig into the tree if you slip? My claws are built in.
Snick! I display the claws on one foot. Modesto stands his ground but the other two men edge back.
Me: Don't worry, I know when to slash and when not to slash. We lion people are well trained in the use of weapons, particularly when not to use them.
Mr. Nuņez: We may have a problem here. Have you ever heard of Cal-OHSA?
Me: No, what is it?
Mr. Nuņez: A government agency that sends inspectors around to see if all our workers are following safety rules. One of the rules is safety shoes at all times on the job. That means a steel cover over the toe. Here, feel mine. You could hardly use your claws.
Me: Jeez, Mr. Ragland warned me about the shoe thing for the plumbing and electrical jobs, but I figured, well, at the Lion Foundation the human kids go up the trees with bare feet.
Mr. Nuņez: Kids do lots of things. You want to get some shoes?
Me: Human shoes don't fit my feet; see, the bones are shorter than yours. I don't know how I could get any shoe, much less a steel one. Ms. Donegal told us never break regulations; rather, go around them. Can you see an around path? Are there any exceptions?
Mr. Nuņez: None that I can see.
Me: I guess I couldn't do the job then. I was looking forward to it. I like trees and the exercise is good for me. Well, how about I just take off the branch the lion way, so you can see what you're missing.
Mr. Nuņez: OK. We're not actually seeing this.
I remove the belt, and they pop their eyes when I drop the cutter in my pocket. The concrete block wall is only two meters high, and I hop onto it easily, and from there to the tree. For me, having done this all my life, reaching the branch up the bare trunk is like walking on flat ground. Snip, it's off. The bark is solid and I don't even have to use my claws. I come down and return the cutter.
Me: I'm sorry this didn't work out, but thanks for giving me the interview. I'll say hi if I see you around campus working.
Mr. Nuņez: I'm sorry, too. We have trouble to get people who are competent in the trees. See you around.
Ken comes out of the plumbing shop, beaming.
Ken: I got the job! I told them how our sewer gets blocked up with roots so we rent a rotary rooter every year, and I use the hand snake on it between times. They hired me!
Me: Great! You deserve a hug. I wasn't so successful. There's a safety rule that you have to wear shoes, and lion people don't wear shoes.
Ken: Aww, that's too bad. Were they nasty?
Me: No, real nice guys, but there was no way to bend the regs. Let's see if anything else turned up for me.
Back at the room I find a summons for the emergency room job and, late in the afternoon, for the computer operator. The hospital is at the other end of the campus and I'm going to have to run, to give myself time to hunt for the room. I pop a needle and a vacuum tube into my pocket, and take off. Reaching the hospital I find that there are big signs pointing to the emergency room, and I figure that my destination will be either there or close by. I go through a waiting area, beige walls, white floor tiles and antiseptic stink, and ask the desk nurse for directions; she points me at a side office.
Me: Hi, I'm Simba Leones. I'm here for a job interview.
Doctor: I'm Dr. Salomon; I'm the chief resident in this section. I've never met a lion person before. Are you interested in medicine as a career?
Me: I haven't made any firm decisions but I think engineering suits me best. But lion people have to be their own doctors; we're not likely to find anyone in the community experienced in lion medicine. And in physiology and anatomy lions and humans have a lot in common, despite the obvious differences.
Dr. Salomon: You understand you're signing up to be an assistant, not a doctor, right?
Me: Bringing supplies, mopping blood off the floor, I assumed that would be the kinds of things you needed done. But basic medical knowledge certainly can't hurt.
Dr. Salomon: No, it doesn't. Now a big problem we have with student workers is fainting at the sight of blood. What kind of experiences have you had, dealing with blood and bleeding?
I take out the needle and blood tube, surprising him, and stick the needle in my arm, surprising him even more. It misses the vein. With minimum motion, so the error is not obvious, I steer to where the vein most likely is, and am rewarded with a drop of blood. I attach the vacuum tube one-handed, and it fills. I give it to Dr. Salomon.
Me: Lion blood, a souvenir. I have to mail a tube of blood to the Lion Foundation every month. If you look at the needle, see the gold color, that's a coating of titanium nitride. The needles are made specially for us. Our skin plates take the edge right off steel needles and scalpels. Even these needles hurt quite a bit. I got so tired of having people do things to me with needles that I learned to do it myself.
Dr. Salomon: Very impressive. Now here's a puzzle for you: suppose we have a car crash; those are pretty frequent around here. One guy comes in with a crushed skull. Another has a broken arm and leg and is visibly bleeding. And another has a face full of glass and is yelling his head off because there's glass in his eye. What do you do?
Me: As the floor mopper? A crushed skull sounds pretty bad, like the guy would already be dead. He's your problem anyway. You would stop the bleeding first, on the middle one. I should head for the one with the glass, to keep him off your backs. I don't know how much you want me to play doctor, but I would start by telling him to keep his hands off his eyes. I'd pull his eyelid open and pour salt solution in it to try to get the chips out. That's what we did at the Lion Foundation when we got bark chips in our eyes. Finally I'd take off any glass chips from his skin that I could see. He should brush his fur carefully to remove chips, and take off his clothes; they should go in a trash bag. Then I sweep up any chips on the floor, and mop the blood from the other patient.
Dr. Salomon: You have the priorities right, although in reality we most likely would have enough medical people that one could attend to the eye. I think you have promise. I'd like you to speak with the section chief, Dr. White. Come with me, he's just down the hall. Sit here in the hall; it will just be a moment.
I can't hear every word but I'm pleased to hear the phrases ``steady as a rock'' and ``has a brain, unlike some''. This is what lions are trained to do. However, the discussion takes longer than a moment. Apparently Dr. White has some objection. Dr. Salomon is not a happy camper. Now his phrase is, ``you should know that better than any of us''. The vigorous discussion takes quite a while but then goes quiescent. After some time, two suits appear and go into the office, giving me a very curious look. I appear charming. After a few minutes of low-toned discussion, Dr. Salomon calls me in. This time Dr. White is asking the questions.
Dr. White: First question: can you wear shoe covers?
He takes two shapeless green things from a box in his desk drawer. They are like shoes but made of paperlike plastic with elastic around the top. I saw some of the personnel outside wearing them. I slip them over my feet.
Me: Yes, they stay on.
Dr. White: Good, son. Now, how do people react to you?
Me: Most people are surprised, having never seen a lion person before, but after that they are interested to look at me. When appropriate, like in the dorm, I try to get to know them. I expect that a few will be bothered by me. One person in the dorm, she has nightmares and I looked a little like the thing she fears, but with the help of the resident fellow and with my cooperation, she got it worked out and we're getting to be pretty close friends. Does that answer your question?
Dr. White: Unfortunately, not completely. Suppose we have an emergency case brought in, and he or she regains consciousness and the first thing she sees is fur and those teeth. I worry what our patient's reaction will be, or how bad the reaction will be.
Me: I think I see your point. But look at my face as I talk to you. I think my teeth are quite tasteful, not threatening. My designers went to considerable trouble so I could get my mouth closed and the points covered, for just the reason you mentioned. It's true that a much more terrifying view is available instantly if needed for a threat display, but I hope you can trust me to use that, as well as my claws, responsibly. We have considerable training in the proper use of weapons, including threat displays.
Dr. White: Our rule is, above all, do no harm.
Me: Harm as in scaring patients? On my neighbor in the dorm, I think I had a very calming effect, particularly when she realized I wasn't the thing in her dreams. Also, I bring to the job skill and toughness, which I understand are hard to get. Having someone with a cool head to replenish supplies during a big crisis could help your patients.
As far as I am concerned, we are in a big crisis. This Dr. White, ludicrously named opposite his coloration, is fixated on my alien nature. How can I shake him loose? But then:
Suit: I'm Brian McConnell, the hospital personnel director. Suppose we have him work a shift and see how the patients react?
Dr. White: When? We have to make a decision.
Mr. McConnell: When's your next interview? How many do you have, anyway?
Dr. White: One, tomorrow morning. Well... From what I've heard, you're Florence Nightingale in fur. Could you work for, say, the next two hours? And we'll let the patients decide.
Me: Sure, that's fair. But I've read about Florence Nightingale. I have basic medical training; all lion people do. But I'm not trained as a nurse. I hope you're not disappointed by a good job.
Dr. White: Don't worry, I'm not taking the metaphor literally.
Me: Thank you. Is there a computer nearby? I should notify people where I am, and block out interview requests.
I'm handed off to a junior staff member named Mike and I find out where the supplies and the mop are, and how waste water is properly disposed of here. I quietly dig for information on procedures and types of cases. I'm aware that Dr. White has his door open and can see and hear everything. The work shift is pretty boring; nothing happens for about half an hour. It is, after all, Saturday afternoon and people have better things to do than get sick. Then someone appears at the big door. I go over to greet him.
Me: Good afternoon, sir. Come right this way and Nurse Stevenson will get you checked in. What happened, did you get your finger caught in something? You were right to put ice on it. Mike, do I have to do anything when X-rays are taken?
Mike: Just show him into the room and Pam will take it from there.
The X-ray reveals that the finger is badly bruised but not broken. Mike tapes two wooden sticks around it to protect it, and we send a happy customer on his way, minus his co-payment. The wait for the next customer is not long. A cop car slides up to the loading area and the officers hustle a man out of the back seat. He is limping badly and there is blood on his pants. I roll a wheelchair out the door and around in back of him, and he collapses into it. His feet are dragging on the ground, and I am not sure what to do, but one of the officers turns down a foot plate, so I do the same on the other side and lift his foot onto it. With one cop in the lead and the other behind, I roll the person up to Nurse Stevenson. There is a trail of blood.
Me: Here we are. Nurse Stevenson will get you checked in, and we'll get your leg patched up good as new. Mike, should I stick with him, or should I start mopping the floor?
Mike: The floor, I think. We don't want people tracking it all over.
So I fill up a bucket and get busy with the mop. We cleaned our own rooms at the Lion Foundation, including the bathroom, so I know what to do with a mop. The person's route is very evident, with a pool in front of the nurse's station. Mike and Dr. Salomon have him on a table and are working on him. I retrieve the wheelchair, which is a mess; I clean that up too, and return it.
Me: Anything more I can do?
Robber: Come over here where I can see you. Ouch! This isn't my lucky day.
Me: Is that a gunshot wound? I've never seen one. I'm sorry you got shot, but not too sorry, if you catch my meaning.
Robber: Yeah. I hear you lion people are pretty smart.
Me: We work hard at it, and we have good lessons. Do you have a lion disc?
Robber: What's that? Ouch, take it easy, will you!
Me: A computer disc with all our lessons on it. They work just as well for humans. If you wanted to change jobs, lion training could be helpful.
Robber: What a joke! It was a race to see whether I'd blow off school, or they'd kick me out first.
Me: In the lion lessons newsgroup some people say they don't get along in regular schools, but from the questions they ask I'd judge that they're making progress.
Robber: Maybe they'll let me do it in jail. Yuk, yuk.
Me: I answered a question from a prisoner once, and I've seen postings from several different ones. It wouldn't hurt to try it.
Robber: Well, maybe I'll give it a try, but don't count on much. Nice talking to you. I hope we don't meet professionally. Yuk.
Me: I'll look forward to meeting you in your new job. Mike, do you need any supplies?
Mike: Yes, bottom right drawer, the paper pants. We had to cut his off him and they're ruined.
Me: Got it. Officer, would you like some wet paper towels or a sponge and bucket to clean out your car? It must be a mess in there.
Cop: I think it's going to take the bucket. Thanks.
When they finish taping up the wound I roll the customer out to the cop car and help him get back in it. I mop up the procedure room and clean the table where the blood had soaked through the paper cover. After that, Mike and I chat about police cases he had seen.
I am a bit surprised to see another police car, followed immediately by a private car, park in the reserved spaces across from our door. A woman carries a child, female, crying, accompanied by a cop, also female. I open the door for them.
Me: Come right this way and Nurse Stevenson will check you in. You're the one that needs help, right? You can sit right here while your supervisor gives the information. What happened? It looks like you were in a fight and lost. I don't like when that happens to me. And what's your name; I'm Simba.
Kid: I'm Debra. It was horrible! That horrible man!
I notice an odor that I've smelled before, but I can't quite place what it is.
Debra: He grabbed me and tore my clothes. It's awful; I don't have any underpants any more. I just want it to go away!
It comes back to me: when Willie and I practiced mating at the same time. That's the smell of human semen.
Me: This was forced mating? With a child? That's horrible! I'm sorry you lost the fight. Sometimes you do your best and still lose. I really don't like that when it happens and I'm sure you don't either. Mike and Dr. Salomon, I'm thinking back to when I was little and got injured falling out of a tree, and how scared I was. I think Debra might feel better if we talked first about what kind of help she needs, out here, and then went into the procedure room and did it. What do you think?
Dr. Salomon: I think that's a real good idea. Now first, the officer will need a semen sample. When they catch the man that did this, it will prove that he did it.
Debra: What's a semen sample? Does it hurt?
Dr. Salomon hesitates. He actually looks shy.
Me: It comes out of a male's penis when he mates. It's supposed to join with the female's egg to make a baby. Some is on you, probably around your vagina; I can smell it.
Debra: The icky slimy stuff! I wanted to wash it off but the officer said not to. It's gross!
Me: Yes, semen is gross. I don't like when it gets in my fur. What would we do, Dr. Salomon, just kind of scrape it off and put it in a bottle? And after that she could wash off what was left.
Dr. Salomon: Exactly. We'll take off as much as we can; that won't hurt. We have a bathroom where you could wash the rest. Then I'd like to examine you.
Debra: What's that? Will it hurt? Simba tell me.
Me: I'm not trained in how to do that, but an adult's penis is kind of large compared to a child's vagina, and yours should be looked at, to see if it's injured. If so, the inspection will probably hurt, but not a lot. I think it would be better to find out any problems and fix them, even if it hurts a little, then to not be examined and possibly get a more painful infection that you could have avoided. You understand?
Debra: Like taking a splinter out. It's scary and it hurts, but if you don't take it out, I had one that I didn't tell my mother about. I'd like Simba to examine me.
Me: Sorry, Debra, but I haven't been trained how to do that. Would you like Dr. Salomon to do it instead?
Debra: I suppose. Do I have to take my clothes off? He was trying to get my clothes off and I don't want to show my sights to everyone. But these are torn and slimy; I don't know what to do! Mama, I told you I should have changed!
Me: I don't want to tell a human what to do about clothes, but could I tell you what the kids did at the Lion Foundation?
Debra: About clothes? OK. Are you wearing clothes, or are you like a dog or cat?
Me: Like a cat. Lion people don't get along with dogs. The human kids often imitated us, not wearing clothes and chasing through the forest. We felt it wasn't important as long as the weather was warm enough. The adults had a rule though: if an adult was on business, like doing a lesson with a lion, and the kid was just there, the adult didn't care about clothes. But if the kid was also working with the adult, like the kid and the lion were doing the lesson together, then the kid had to put on clothes. Now here, we need to look at your vagina, and if the semen is on your clothes you wouldn't want to wear them until they're washed and mended. So I suggest that you do as the lions do, and don't care who sees your vagina area.
Debra: Mama would spank me.
Mama: No, I wouldn't. Do as Simba says, honey.
Debra: OK, I guess. Is there more?
Dr. Salomon: We've been talking to you about what happened. It can be very upsetting, and Simba and I would like to talk to you a little to help you feel better, to be less upset.
Me: Yes, that's very important. My friend in the dorm had something like forced mating, and she never talked to anyone about it, and she has scary dreams about it. Our resident fellow suggested that she talk to a mind doctor who could maybe help her get rid of the dreams. I know that when I'm scared or feeling rotten, talking to my supervisor helps a lot. If you get bad feelings or bad dreams about this fight, do ask for help. Will you?
Debra: OK. I don't like bad dreams and I tell my mom when I have them.
Me: Good for you! Now there's another thing. That man didn't mate the right way. I hope you'll learn the right way to do it, and practice right, and when you're the right age, you'll find a mate and have a nice family. Don't let this forced mating make you think that all mating is terrible, OK? My mate is very important to me, and I'm thankful my supervisor taught me the right way to practice, so that when the time came I could join with her successfully. You won't let today's bad event mess up your future success, will you?
Debra: No, I promise. When you say your mate, is that like your wife?
Me: Yes. The way lions are, husband and wife aren't quite the right words, and we call ourselves mates.
Debra: Can we start taking off the semen? I don't like it on me.
Dr. Salomon: Sure, Debra. Come on over to this room and hop up on the table. Let's get your dress off. Yes, it's icky. Simba, lower left drawer, the big zip-top bags, yes, that one. I'll just put the dress in it, and here you are, officer. And if you'll let me get at the area, icky, icky into the bottle. That should be enough evidence to convict him. Good hunting, officer.
Debra: Now can I wash? Simba help me. Mama, you can come too.
Mike: Inside, upper cabinet, are washcloths and towels.
So we get Debra washed up, the supervisor doing most of the work. Debra comes back to the procedure room for the examination. She is very cooperative, and I think Dr. Salomon makes a good choice to have her stick the child-sized viewing tube into her own vagina, rather than stuffing it in himself. The area is bruised and she complains that it hurts, but she gets the job done. I mention that I don't like people sticking me with needles, so I learned to do it to myself. Dr. Salomon prescribes an antibiotic, one which I recognize as fatal in lions, in case there were germs on the man's penis or in his semen, and he also gives Debra a booster immunization against AIDS, which she tolerates with only modest complaints. The supervisor, level-headed, has brought a set of clean clothes from home, and Debra is once again ready to face the world.
Mama: Thank you so much, Simba. And Dr. Salomon too. This was really traumatic for Debra and you were so kind to her.
Debra: Thank you, Simba. I wish I were a lion person. I'd use my claws on that man. Can I see your claws? Please?
Me: One slash and that man's problem would be solved very permanently. I'm sorry that humans can't get lion bodies, but you can be as strong, tough and smart as we are. Would you like that?
Debra: Yes, yes! How?
Me: It takes a lot of work; I have to work very hard at it. But I think what I got from the lessons was worth the effort. Can you work hard?
Debra: Sure, if I can be like a lion.
Me: Do you have a computer at home? Good. Do you have a lion disc, the computer disc with our lessons on it? Your supervisor could buy one; it's not too expensive. And you and she could learn it together. The students' store on campus has them for sale. And I've got another suggestion. Do you like stuffed animals?
Me: They also have lion person stuffed animals.
Debra: Mama, mama, could we get the lion disc? Please? I want to learn to be strong as a lion. And maybe we could get the stuffed animal too. Thank you, Simba, you're nice.
And we send another satisfied customer on her way. And Dr. White issues from his cave. The judgment. I am nervous, but hide it.
Dr. White: Simba and I would like to give you a little counseling. That's laying it on thick, isn't it, Sal? But Simba, your performance was very impressive. How would you like a job with us?
Me: Yes, sir! Very much, sir!
Dr. White: OK, you're hired. Sal, see to the paperwork later. Did you have some kind of clinical psych training, Simba?
Me: We did psychodrama a lot, practicing situations with humans. We have to live with you people and there's going to be trouble eventually, and we need to know how to come out of it as better neighbors, rather than dead.
Dr. White: That's good planning. Now, I think we've kept you through lunch and I'd feel guilty sending you back hungry after putting you through all that. There's a Chinese place across the road in town. You like Chinese?
Me: Sure. Mrs. Ragland makes Chinese dishes for us sometimes and I enjoy them. And you're right, the cafeteria will be closed by now. Thank you.
So we walk into the town and find the restaurant. We're going to each order a dish. He chooses beef with green peppers, and I try something called Buddha's feast.
Dr. White: This whole business bothers me, personally and professionally. Do you know who those people were that I got in to help me decide?
Me: One said who he was: Mr. McConnell, the personnel director. The other didn't say.
Dr. White: The hospital director. I felt, and we all felt, that it would be like racism to deny you the job just because you are a lion person. But what if our patients react badly to a lion person? We couldn't agree which issue was most important. I assume you know about racism?
Me: I talked with Willie and Mr. and Mrs. Ragland. They're black. Willie intends to ignore it. He's strong, tough and smart as a lion, and he doesn't need to pay attention to what other people think about his race. His supervisors have been working on the lessons too, and it's hard at their age, particularly since they have their regular work to do, but they're making progress and everyone helps them if they need questions answered. From what they've told me, some people pay a lot of attention to race. I think it does nobody any good. That's their opinion and I agree with them. I hope humans can take the same attitude about lion people, and for those who can't stand us, I intend to simply leave them alone, and I hope they'll do the same for me.
Dr. White: I'm glad Brian, the bureaucrat, came up with a scientific solution, and we got our fears put to rest. I still wonder how many people are going to be scared of you, but as you said, I think, having seen you in action, that the good you bring to the job outweighs the bad.
Me: Thank you, sir. Is this our food coming?
Both dishes are very good to my taste, and I finish up all the rice, to Dr. White's amusement. We walk back, chatting about emergency medicine and how tough medical school is, and lion training too. At the emergency room I sign a bunch of papers which Dr. Salomon has ready, and I set up a tentative work schedule. Dr. Salomon says that for the first week of classes the schedule is always chaotic, and to not be shy about renegotiating it.
It's been a stressful morning, and most of afternoon, and my lunch has had time to settle, so I decide to run back. I run past the physical sciences buildings, and I cut through the Ellipse where students are throwing Frisbees. Lions never have a problem when Frisbees get stuck in trees. I turn into the main quad. Faintly, there is an odd sound, music. I stop. It's coming from the big old church that dominates the back of the quad. I've never been in a church, and I'm curious to track down the sound. I enter. The sound comes from the very walls, it seems. Beautiful! As is the interior of the church. But the music stops, and high up I can hear, and see, someone packing up her books. I call out, trying to be discreet yet heard.
Me: Were you making the music?
Organist: Yes, but my practice period is over.
Me: Oh. I liked it.
Organist: Are you a lion person?
Me: Yes, my name is Simba.
Organist: Come up here and I'll show you the organ. Stairs are in the corner.
So I go up, and traverse a narrow passage to a door labeled ``Organ Loft''.
Organist: Hi, I'm Faresha. This is the console.
Me: It looks kind of complicated. I've read about organs but never seen one. It looks like a bunch of synths stacked up, and do you use your feet on the lower things?
Faresha: Exactly. Do you play keyboard?
Me: I'm let's say adequate on synth.
Faresha: Try it. I'll turn it back on.
I play Bach's ``Sheep may Safely Graze'' on one keyboard, figuring that the selection is appropriate for a church.
Faresha: Not bad at all! Here, let me punch in a decent registration for that piece. Now play the right hand on the top manual, and the left hand on the third, but the middle section, shift to the second and fourth manuals for that.
I play it again, and it sounds spectacular, particularly when I shift in the middle section.
Faresha: That's nice! Would you like to learn organ?
Faresha: There's a beginning class. I'm a senior in the music department, and my advisor teaches the beginning class too.
Me: Does it satisfy the fine arts requirement?
Faresha: Yes, it does. Organ is a blast. Sign up for it; you'll like it.
Me: Gee, thanks! I'm looking for a fine arts class to take. Maybe I'll see you practicing.
So today has turned out pretty well despite a tough start. I'll have a lot to tell Ken and Tiger.