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Imminent Collapse#1 (and #2) Piece of Advice

By Bill Andrews
STAFF COLUMNIST

And here we are once again, poised to begin school, and studying, and month after month of fall holidays. For those of you who are new here, welcome! For those returning from vacation, welcome back! For those who stayed here over the summer, sorry. Going back to those of you who are new, people of froshness, seriously, greetings. If I may be so bold, allow me to offer you some advice.

Now I’m sure all of you got your fair share of advice from everyone: your family, your school, your buddies, and everyone’s favorite counselor, TV. Yes, even I can remember not so long ago, when I got more “neither a borrower nor a lender be” speeches than I could wave a sword at. But the thing is, great and heartfelt as all that advice is, people almost always neglect to mention the most important thing you can do when you’re a new student somewhere, or new anywhere for that matter. If only someone had sat me down and told me what I’m about to tell you, I could’ve avoided much trouble, strife, and heartache.

“Yet hear, Laertes:

Know where the bathrooms are.”

Doubt me if you will, but just like Star Wars becoming cool, it’s only a matter of time. There will come a time, my friends, when you will need to know where the nearest bathroom is, and when the moment arrives, you will want to be ready. Please, for humanity’s sake, believe me. These five deceptively simple words have saved lives.

So, you’re all set to learn the most important lesson you’ll ever learn @MIT. How best to go about it? Like a good calculus problem, there are many ways to go about it. If you are outgoing and charming, or if you are a girl, the simplest way would be to ask an upperclassmen to mark the bathrooms on your campus map. Most folks wouldn’t mind, though they might be a little dazed coming out of the scheduling-problem haze they’ll no doubt have.

If you’re less inclined to ask for help, but still a friendly, outgoing individual, you can organize search parties with your fellow n00bs. It’s a great way to get to know your classmates, as well as learn the essentials of campus life. As a fun bonus, after midnight, all bathrooms on campus become unisex. Ladies, if you’ve ever wondered what urinals look like, or fellas if you’ve ever wondered what their absence does to the feng shui of a bathroom, these will be fruitful days.

But what about the shy, introverted students who would rather work alone for hours than collaborate? That is to say, what about the average student? If, like me, you don’t mind walking and spending time alone, there can be no better time for introspection and quiet meditation than walking around the school looking for bathrooms by yourself. Learn what the hallways are like, how all the numbers connect to each other, and where all the best bathrooms are, all in one. It’s quite the experience, almost religious. Definitely better than frantically searching for one at your most desperate hour, even though you might be invoking your deity of choice.

However you go about it, make sure to be thorough. Sure, it’s well and good knowing which bathrooms along the Infinite Corridor are men’s rooms (pretty much all of them), but remember your classes won’t all be along the Infinite. Branch out, diversify your world, explore. Starting from your home base of Lobby 10, spiral outwards through Buildings 3, 4, 5, 6, then when you’re confident in your surroundings keep going; try 1, 2, 9, 12, 13. Remember, there are three or four floors each, so you’ve got your work cut out for you. Eventually you can try the real boondocks of the 30s, Stata, East Campus, and West Campus. If this seems like a lot of work, remember: you never know where you might find yourself, and better to be prepared than very, very, sorry.

Lastly, I’ll offer a list of my favorites, to get you started. Of course the Infinite’s are pretty good, though they can be a bit drafty in winter. There’s a spacious, secluded men’s room/ladies’ room pair in the basement of Building 4, right in front of the keyboard lab. The buildings just off the Infinite often hide bathrooms nearby (such as the men’s room in Building 3) that are both less crowded and, somehow, more like home. And let us not forget the bathroom near the elevators of the med center, which have served me well over the years, as the nearest bathrooms to the Kendall T stop.

So, now armed with such valuable advice, enjoy your time here. There’s other advice I could offer, but you’ve probably heard that before. Read the suggested reading. Don’t fall behind in classes. Cover up when it gets cold. Make sure to talk to somebody if things get rough. “And this, above all: to thine own self be true.” Oh, and don’t plagiarize either.