In a Taxi to One Western…

My One Western-bound cabbie couldn’t understand it. Impossible! Inconceivable! Nor did he shut up about it for the entire ride back from Sleep-A-Rama with my freshmanesque futon jutting out of his trunk.

Didn’t Harvard have, how you call it – wealth? Why it not get, how you say – architect? He not, as they say, professional designer, he just drive cab, but even he know – windows should be, ehh… straight!

But it’s not the b-school’s fault. The real proof that the B-school wouldn’t touch jurisdiction over One Western with a ten-foot pole came as August 16 – moving day – approached. Specifically, I learned on the 14th that the Housing Office, AKA “Source of My Keys,” was to close at 1pm on that Saturday. Now this must have made perfect sense to the folks at 1350 Mass Ave. After all, why expend precious resources to staff an office on the Saturday afternoon before the week during which all first years were required to have arrived? Surely the few who would deign to choose a Saturday move day would be coming from all those countless metropolises under three hours from Boston. (Admittedly, I learned 24 hours before departing, the roommate could be appointed as my Key Retriever upon appeal to the Supreme Court for power of attorney, which would reassure the skeptics over at Housing that the person with whom I’d chosen to share my dwelling could be trusted with a set of keys identical to the one already in her possession.)

That One Western was, in the eloquent words of Vladimir the cabbie, “ugly”, was certainly not news. I’d clicked on the perversely proud, yet ultimately well-concealed website photos – I was up to speed. So as I drove along Storrow with my set of Bad Back/Tennis Elbow/We Hope You Realize We Can’t Lift Anything Heavy parents, I was on high alert for Tower With Misaligned Windows And Random Bridge Not Really On Water As Promised Due to Highway. We rounded a bend, and oy – poor Boston – there it was in the distance, a part of the skyline.

Ugly, definitely. But truly bothersome? No way, declared the Coke-Is-Always-Half-Full I – this was temporary housing after all, and my 1853 had, go figure, produced a two-bedroom, TWO bathroom in a brand new building with FREE utilities (read: ex-Manhattanite eager to exploit the “Go Wild With The Dishwasher Everyday Just Because I Can” Loophole). So what if the exterior didn’t resemble Hampton Court – I’d already done refugee-style living undergrad, and frankly I’d take tacky and new over gothic and dingy any day.

Besides, it was rather amusing to observe the fruits of a university’s labor. First, there’s the maximum security penitentiary system of getting in: (1) Swipe Front Door (2) Enter (3) Swipe Elevator (4) Watch Guy at Elevator Generously Open Door For Stranger (5) Enter Elevator With Two Strangers. (Note that the execution of this procedure also assumes that one has mastered the capriciousness of one’s swipe card, which has been programmed so as to introduce a degree of uncertainty into the “Will I End Up Standing Here Like An Idiot Till Someone Opens The Door For Me” equation.) Upon emerging from the fire blanket-decorated elevator, one is then hit with the blast of Arctic air in the hallway. (Who knew it could get colder than a New York office building? Women, it is time we conquered this final frontier of our liberation and seized control of the thermostat!) Not to be outdone by the hallway, the apartment itself possesses numerous endearing qualities. These include bedroom-sized bathrooms with medicine cabinets built for people whose implied use for toiletries begs the question of whether they wouldn’t be more at home using the port-a-toilets outside, living room A/Cs controlled from one but not both bedrooms, crannies where nooks should be, and nooks where futons are trying to be. And oh yes: to my neighbors whose frigid showers are not the result of the DD-cup blonde’s assertion that she’d love to check out your new Ikea couch, but oops – her boyfriend’s due any minute, mea culpa: building plumbing is apparently a zero-sum game and I have the third-degree burns on my scalp to prove it.

Oh to dream to have One Western run by the business school. I close my eyes and my fingers ache to click on an imaginary link. Perhaps this is all the b-school’s cruel way of reminding us of that world outside Allston, where the sole purpose of polls is to interrupt your Shrimp with Spicy Szechuan Sauce, and greeting cards have no glitter.