Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Bad

With two interviews under my belt, I felt confident that I was ready for most anything as I sat on the Long Island Railroad journeying to Stony Brook School of Medicine.

We spent the night in the darling town of Port Jefferson on the Long Island Sound. It’s a coastal town with a building code that all buildings have to have a certain level of cuteness. They all match and I’ll admit I’m kind of a sucker for that kind of thing.

Since my interview isn’t until 10am, we have plenty of time to walk through town and find some breakfast before catching a cab to the medical center. Good, freaking thing. I open the door and it is pouring. Seriously, it looks like a movie set with sheets of water blown around by gale-force winds. And, I dried my hair already. Wrapped in three coats we waddle around the corner and find breakfast at a deli owned by what I imagine to be the classic Long Islander. He’s very friendly, a little loud, and seriously thinks Starbucks should rot in hell.

I find it a little ironic that the cab driver who is rattling off a litany of injuries sustained in a car accident is driving us through the storm not wearing her seatbelt. But, I am grateful to arrive at the Admission office in one, wet piece on time.

This interviewee crowd is more diverse and friendly than the last one. I immediately notice the two Hasidic Jews wearing yarmulkes, the Asian valley girl and the large boy with red, curly hair. Once again, I break the ice, but this time the crowd is really receptive. Each person is so surprised and relieved to hear that everyone else is nervous too. Those of us who have had a few interviews assure the first-timers that it’s not that bad. So far, so good.

We receive folders with the names of our interviewers. I have a second year student and Dr. Y.

The student ushers me into a small conference room and immediately explains that he likes happy, confident people. I smile and tell him, “I’m so glad to be here. I don’t see this so much as an interview as a conversation to learn more about this school.” He beams and says he thinks I’m a great fit for Stony Brook. He spends the next thirty minutes talking while I respond to each question with a grin and, “that’s a great question.” He seems quite pleased to have spent the last half hour hearing his own voice. Whatever works.

During lunch I compare notes with the Asian valley girl who explains, “Oh my gosh, I just, you know, was interviewed by that like, Dr. Y, you know? He was totally like bizarre. The receptionist said he’s like kind of crazy and I have seriously no idea how I did.” Good to know.

I am called by Mr. Allegedly-Crazy and determined to roll with it. It can’t be any worse than Mr. Tuttle. He has spiky grey hair, an off-kilter grin and is dressed casually. On the way up the elevator we make conversation about Portland where he has relatives and the large bookstore called Powells. It becomes apparent that he has a dry sense of humor and I laugh at all the jokes I catch. The conversation is comfortable and he seems to enjoy my lack of intimidated-ness.

“Let’s just skip all this crap. You seem like a great person, you’ve got good grades, you’ve been successful in the business world. Why in the world do you want to live in New York?”

The truth – because there are law schools here Ron wants to attend. What I say, “I’m excited to spend my four years of medical school in a diverse city. We’ll probably settle back in the Northwest, but no reason to pass up the opportunity of a four year adventure to live somewhere new.”

“Where else are you applying and interviewing? I’m not going to judge you, I’m just curious.”

Awkward question! It’s like asking your date, “Who else are you seeing and how do they measure up to me?”

I explain, “I’ve interviewed at Einstein in the Bronx, NY Med in Valhalla, I’m here today, then Boston Univ next week and Loma Linda in California the week after.”

He says, “Let’s see. Einstein, that’s a good school. Kind of a sketchy area, I mean, who would choose to live in the Bronx? New York Med is a bunch of snobby pricks whose parents bought their way into medical school. You don’t want to go there, they’d all hate you for being smarter than them. Boston’s a great school, but really expensive. Whatever you do, don’t go to Loma Linda. They are freaks. There’s some kind of religious cult supporting the whole thing and I’m telling you they’re just complete weirdos.”

Because you’re striking me as so completely sane right now. Nevermind that I chose to apply and am flying across the country to interview because I like the school.

“What about Stony Brook? Why did you choose to be here? Why is it great?”

“Oh It’s fine. I like the area, it’s a comfortable job. The students are great. I can tweak with them.”

Really selling me.

“Tell me about traveling.”

“It’s been great. I’ve seen a huge variety of cultures, learned a lot and enjoyed spending time with my husband.”

“How many pairs of underwear do you bring on a year long trip? You have just like one backpack, right?”

“It’s so funny you ask. We found this great quick-dry underwear you can wash in the sink and it’s dry the next day. It’s amazing. Just three pairs of that have been more than enough.”

“I guess you probably don’t need a lot of sexy underwear, huh? Just lots of condoms.”

Whoa! Boundaries. Strange middle-aged man needs some company.

“Oh, I almost forgot, you’re married. You have to be sure that all your social events aren’t with other medical students and you can’t constantly talk about science and leave her out and work long hours and ignore all the things she does around the house because one day you’ll lean into kiss her and she’ll push you away saying, ‘I don’t love you anymore’ and you’ll realize you hardly know each other any more and it’s no use to get counseling and its all over.”

Ok, wow, too much information. He continues,

“Is your husband here today? I really want to meet him. I just want to give him some advice. Seriously, before you leave campus, bring him up to my office.”

Yeah, Ron’s gonna love this.

I successfully navigate the conversation away from relational and clothing topics and ask about the patient population. He makes a joke about patients thinking doctors are a little crazy. Where would they ever get that idea?

We leave with a smile, a handshake and his insisting that I bring Ron up to meet him.

I find Ron and quickly brief him. He accompanies me back up the elevator and Crazy Man is thrilled and surprised that I actually followed through. His (second, I assume) wife has stopped by his office and he introduces me , “This is Trina. She was conceived in the stacks of Powells Books.”

Ron and I laugh uncomfortably and within a few minutes Dr. Y has imparted his precious jewels of wisdom to Ron. He assures me, “I sure hope you choose to come here. The choice will be yours.”

Well, that’s encouraging. And, completely independent of anything to do with who I am or what would make me a good doctor. But, I’ll take it!

At the end of the day, I found it to be an innovative, relatively young medical school (1970’s) with a diverse student body and a very strange Dr. Y.

1 comment:

Krista said...

Oh my gosh, what a hilarious interview! Thanks for sharing!!! ;)
And if you like towns with building codes that make them all look cute... you should come visit us sometime. My parents still live in Leavenworth (we're half an hour away) and it fits the bill!