A couple days before class started, all graduate students had to attend this orientation. One of the events was, several cops with silver hair and powerful mustaches talked to us about how the U is "an oasis" in the city, and euphemistically said the city has "the urban problems of an urban city." Referring, I assume, to the astonishing crime rates. They talked about "using your sixth sense" to detect a crime that was about to happen. They talked about "roving bands of juveniles," but since they couldn't say anything racially motivated, they distinguished these juveniles by saying they would be "wearing bandannas." They said, "they don't care who you are. They just want what you have."

So the U is an oasis, okay.

This is how I know I'm in graduate school. Tonight, walking home from a bar, I stopped in front on an apartment building to talk to Nick about particular novel-reading strategies -- how to compensate for the fact that one never has the time to do the work that is required -- while police officers and medical technicians wheeled an empty stretcher out of said apartment building into an ambulance, lights flashing. I don't know why the stretcher was empty. I have no answers. There were a couple of police cruisers, lights flashing, just hanging out.

Then, about a block later, I spotted a group of seven or so people. They were all huddled up together walking. It looked just like a rugby scrum. Then somebody across the street yelled, "Take her to the hospital!" One of the girls in the scrum yelled back, "What do you think we're doing? We're only like a block away!" This group of several was carrying a thoroughly unconscious girl. A cop walked towards them, saying into his shoulder rover, "We need an ambulance on Charles and Art Museum Drive right away." The girl, the ringleader, said, "We need a van here, like, right away." He yelled at them, "Is she breathing?" They said "Yes."

I kept walking.


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