When I was in high school, I worked as a gopher at my dad’s engineering firm. My job was basically to ferry around documents so I met most people in the firms offices. I haven’t worked there for three years, but today the company threw an open house in its new office in Oklahoma City. My dad convinced me to come with promises of free food and beer.

The only thing in greater supply than beer and BBQ was awkwardness. Engineers aren’t known for their social skills. Their “relatability” problem is exacerbated when they’re chatting with some one 25 years their younger with no knowledge of, for example, appropriate anti-erosion mechanisms for various soil densities. The small talk was agonizing. I’m used to being quizzed about college, my major, and my post-graduation plans, but tonight the questions never stopped coming. I wish I had a business card: “Nick Robinson; Willamette University in Salem, Oregon; class of 2009; B.A. in Politics, wants to work as a policy adviser in government.

Things might have gone better if I hadn’t been exhausted and grumpy. I stayed up most of last night writing baller disads and then woke up early. I wasn’t in the mood for forced conversation, and was even less in the mood for a lecture on the importance of waste water management. A couple of beers loosened me up a bit. It’s always fun to drink in the presence of people who knew you when you were 12.

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