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Next stop: the law building

Saturday night I received a phone call from a very excited Chris Baker. “Dude.”

“Dude,” I replied, as is my fashion.

“I just found a way into Sieg II.” Sieg II is the new computer science building, currently undergoing the final stage of its construction. Its real name is the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, but we already have an Allen Library on campus, and the name Sieg II has the added bonus of paying homage to our wonderfully dilapidated home. We love it in spite all its imperfections. “I was in there looking around. It’s so rad! Do you want to come explore?” The level of emotional arousal in my voice as I responded that yes, yes I did bordered on obscene.

Chris picked me up, and we discussed our plan of attack. The entrance he discovered is a basement door that doesn’t have a handle or lock at the moment, and a construction road leads right to it. By Chris’s reasoning, the fact that he didn’t have to jump any fences, pick any locks, or tunnel under any concrete walls to gain entrance made the excursion quasi-illegal at worst. Still, we knew that what we had in mind had to be against the rules – it was too much fun not to be. For this reason, Chris turned his t-shirt inside out to hide the easily identifiable silk-screened logo on the front, and I donned my running shoes. That way, in the unlikely event we had to run from the cops, our chances of escape were marginally better.

As we approached the doorway, obscured under heavy shadow, I began to have second thoughts. My run-ins with the UWPD in the past have been minor to say the least; there was the time during my first quarter at UW when I was caught using a bush bordering the quad as a urinal at 3am, and of course getting kicked out of the fountain last month. They wrote my name down both times, and I started thinking to myself, what if those torn-off pieces of spiral notebook paper are archived in a vast warehouse somewhere, attended by a full-time staff of hunched-over men bearing spectacles and clipboards? What if there’s some sort of unstated three-strike rule, and I’m about to become its latest statistic? It was easy to imagine security guards lurking just past where the feeble light reached, clutching Maglite flashlights like baseball bats in anticipation of kicking some hippy ass. But Chris was with me, and we were both too afraid of showing fear to pull back.

All that changed when we stepped out of the stairwell into the foyer. A figure just like the ones haunting my fevered brain stood with his back to us around the corner. We took one look and took off running, letting the stairwell door bang loudly behind us as we fled back the way we came. We regrouped at the College Inn, and discussed strategy over a couple pints. “Let’s just go in assuming we’ll get caught and see how long we can stay,” Chris said. It seemed reasonable, so I agreed, on the condition that I’d do the talking should we be accosted by an authority figure.

We returned, our courage buoyed by quality ale, determined to unravel the mystery of the new building. This time we took the stairs all the way to sixth floor, tiptoeing at first but growing quickly bolder. We communicated with hand signals and exaggerated facial expressions, like Navy Seals. The stairs creaked, groaned, and popped with every ginger step, seeding our harried imaginations but gradually making us disregard the sounds, so that by the time we stepped onto the top-floor landing we were almost unafraid. The carpet was still covered in protective plastic, which crackled under our feet as we crept down the hallways.

CS profs are in for a treat next year. The roomy faculty offices have the best view on campus, and the balconies on that floor are truly epic. Meanwhile the undergrads got a raw deal, ending up with programming labs that, while much larger than the current ones, are in the basement. No natural light. Our days and late nights will be indistinguishable, and of course filled with the hum of row upon row of fluorescent lighting.

We got into the basement quite by accident. The door to that level was locked in the stairwell by which we entered, but our circumnavigation of the building led us to descend via the stairs on the opposite side. As we passed the first-floor landing, Chris froze and put a finger to his lips. After several tense moments, we both heard the noise which sent adrenaline coursing through my veins: “Bong.” Someone had set the elevator in motion. Someone was in the building, probably looking for us.

We had to find an alternate means of escape, so we continued down the stairs, hoping a door would be unlocked. It was, and after a little bit of sight-seeing in the basement we exited through the underground loading dock and hopped the fence to freedom. We ran through the Sylvan Theater as if all the demons of hell were at our heels, tripping down a steep incline while laughing maniacally. Halfway through Chris reminded us that we were once more on the coward’s side of the law, so we relaxed.

Also, I ate at Cedars tonight with Gioia, the first time since the article. If they spit in my food, I didn’t notice.

Posted in Musings.


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