Thursday, July 25, 2013

Teenager or Scientist?

Scientist Stereotypes

Absent minded Professor
Not practical
Head in the clouds

The BOY has an internship where he is designing and building a particle detector. Muons. He gets to work with scientists in the field of particle physics. Yesterday, they took a field trip to Brookhaven National Laboratories in New York   

They were going to get back late, and I was concerned about him waiting for a train. Here is the text conversation word for word (The only things I changed were fixing typos for clarity - that's it)

9:57am BOY: So apparently I'll be getting back at like 9:00. There's a train @ 9:30 that gets me home at 10.
9:59am ME: Ok. Maybe we can pick you up. Or maybe they can drop you at 30th St. That's a safer place to wait for a train.
10:50am BOY: Safer than University City? Why?
10:51am ME: You're in a concourse patrolled by police, more people around. University City you'll be on your own.
11:31am BOY: Ok, the train from 30th st. is like 2 minutes later anyway.
11:45am ME: You'll have to make sure you get on the right train. Like really really sure. (He's had issues with getting on the wrong train)

6:32pm BOY: Should be back to Penn at like 10.
6:33pm BOY: What was that about picking me up?
6:34pm BOY: What was that about picking me up?
7:19pm ME: Was shopping. Let me get home and talk to Dad.

After checking the train schedule, I see that if he doesn't get the train which leaves at exactly 10pm, there's not another one until 11pm. 

8:03pm ME: I will pick you up. Keep me posted as to timing. I do not want to sit in West Philly at night waiting. (Earlier in the day I spent a half an hour sitting in another sketchy neighborhood of the city - Germantown, being accosted by drug addicts and trying to avoid the Philadelphia Parking Authority, while waiting for the other boy.)

8:34pm ME: Can you text me the exact address of the building you work in? I need to put in Garmin. Also, a time update.
8:36pm BOY: They were going to drop me off at University City. Should be an hour and a half or so from now.

It has become apparent that I need to talk to him in order to work out the pick-up details.

8:37pm ME: Can you talk? Call me.
8:38pm BOY: Everyone is sleeping, I don't want to disturb them.
8:39pm ME: Are they going back to the office? I would rather pick you up there. There's parking there. None at the train station.
8:40pm BOY: You mean the lab? I guess I could go there instead. I don't think there's any parking there, though.

I'm unsure where the van full of kids and scientists is going. Are they going back to the office? I'm not sure if the lab is the office or if it's a different place altogether. Also, people live all over the region and may have to be dropped off at different locations.

8:41pm ME: Grrrrr. Where are they taking everybody?

waiting.... waiting.... waiting...

8:42pm ME: Never mind. Have them take you to 30th St. I will pick you up there. That's the easiest.
8:43pm BOY: Ok.

Now I need to coordinate arrival times so I get there about when he does. This is where it gets really difficult.

8:45pm ME:  Also, what road are you driving on? I need you to give me a 40 min. window. I will tell you what to look for.
8:49pm BOY: Hold on. Finding out.
8:51pm BOY: 95
8:53pm BOY:About an hour and a half according to GPS.
8:55pm BOY: Should I text you when we exit the highway?

I get on Google maps to figure out when they will be 40 minutes out.

8:56pm ME: I need to know when you cross into PA. That will give me about 40 minutes.
8:57pm BOY: So when I pass the toll?
8:58pm ME: Perfect time.
8:59pm BOY: Ok, I'll do that.

Knowing that I need to be as specific as possible and give him great detail, I text him again.

9:01pm ME: When you get to 30th St., wait on the Amtrak side. Where we picked Gramma up. That's where it's easy for me to get you. I am going to try to arrive just after you do because there is no place to park.
9:02pm BOY:  Ok.

Now I wait for the next text letting me know he's in PA, so I can get moving to go pick him up.

9:07pm BOY: Just passed the toll booth.
9:08pm ME: That was fast. What does the GPS give as your ETA now? (because I think he's 40 minutes out and 15 minutes ago he told me an hour and a half.)
9:09pm BOY: I don't know I turned it off because it eats up battery. It's a pain to turn on.

I am not certain which road they are taking into the city so I ask. There are also others in the van who are going to different destinations. This all factors into when I need to leave to go get him.

9:10pm ME: Still on 95? Are you going to 30th St. first?
9:11pm BOY: Just passed another toll booth.
9:14pm BOY: Just exited 95 I think. Not sure where we're going first.

Now I don't have any idea where he is. Is he in PA? Are they on some other road? All this factors into the time I need to leave to pick him up.

9:16pm ME: Ask an adult who is driving. There is no place for me to wait down there. What road are you on? And how are they getting to Penn? If they are on Rt. 1. I can meet them at Cottman and the Blvd. (Instead of having to drive down town.)
9:20pm BOY: We are on "Veterans Highway"

What? I've never heard of this road? Now, I am seriously confused as to where they are. I Google 'Veterans Highway'. It's a location in Bristol or Levittown.

9:21pm ME: Are you on a highway? Are they taking people to their houses?
9:22pm BOY: Wait, a sign just went by that said 95 again.
9:23pm ME: Ok, so it is a highway. Text me the name of the next exit you pass.

This is an attempt to figure out where the heck they are.

9:24pm BOY: I'm like 85% sure we are on the Delaware expressway. And no, not to their houses. Just go to 30th St. We are certainly in PA now.
9:27pm ME: Text.Me.The.Next.Exit.You.Pass. Not leaving until you do that. There is no place for me to wait down there.
9:28pm BOY: Ok, hold on. Exit 35.

Really? Does he think I know where all the exits are by number? I don't know where exit 35 is. And notice the time? It's been 20 minutes since he's probably passed into PA. That's my 40 minute window. Which is now down to 20.

9:30pm ME: Were there any words on the sign? What did it say?
9:30pm BOY: GPS says 30 minutes.
9:31pm ME: That's not what I asked you. NAME OF EXIT.

Just to make it clear to him the information I needed...


9:33pm BOY: ...It said 35 on it... I'll look for another one, then.
9:35 pm BOY: exit 27 Bridge Street Harbison Ave. Those were all the words on the sign.

Good Lord, he's 15 minutes out. It will take me 25 IF there's no traffic on the Schuylkill.

9:35pm ME: ON MY WAY. You will get there first. Text your brother, now. He's riding with me.
9:38pm BOY: 15 minutes says the GPS.

Brother now texting for me.

9:38pm ME: We'll be there in 25. (most likely wishful thinking on my part)
9:40pm BOY: The one that I get off at?

I am confused by this. Again. Where is he going? University City? That's where he gets off the train. Didn't we just have this l o n g  conversation about 30th St? 

I call. 
He hangs up. 
I call back. 
He hangs up again.

9:24pm BOY: Can't talk now. People sleeping.

I have no words. Only anguished sounds. Loud anguished sounds.

I instruct the T to text the BOY. I consider letting him take the train home, after all, since he will be there with about 5 minutes to spare. Then I remember his difficulty navigating the train system earlier in his internship. I consider that if he gets on the wrong train, I truly will have no idea where he is. I don't want to go to the airport, or Trenton, or Doylestown, or Downingtown. It's safer to keep driving.

T is now texting on his phone, at my direction.

9:44pm BOY: Yes.
9:45pm BOY: Getting off at exit that says 30th street and Market East.

Great. I'm not even on the flipping highway yet!

9:46pm SON:  The station is at 30th and Market, just off the Schuylkill expressway. Be inside, on the AMTRAK side of the station.  
9:49pm SON: Mom repeats: inside, AMTRAK side. We will call when we're off the expressway. Keep your ringtone on so you can hear it.
9:50pm BOY: I'm on my way. I'll get there as soon as I'm able.
9:51pm BOY: I'll be on the main building. On the Amtrak side.
9:53pm BOY: I'm my way on foot.

The phone conversation trying to get him to the drive-thru pick up area was shorter, but every bit as frustrating. 

He's going to make an excellent scientist. 

If he makes it to adulthood.