The machine shop supervisor begins to instruct me on how to manufacture a friction-fitted piston, but has to leave intermittently to speak to a visitor. “I’ll be right back,” he says. Suddenly, everything in the warehouse begins to shake. Everyone scrambles for low-lying shelter from the many precarious pallets stacked high on the shelves, but I am late to the chase. Eyes looking cautiously upward, I eventually stumble upon a few plastic containers on the ground. In confusion, I choose one that barely covers my whole body. The ground is still moving; I move over to a larger container. In a true sign of the times, I subconsciously want to publish an “EARTHQUAKE!” reporting using my smartphone.
The earthquake halts with no apparent damage. Several unknown graduate students, from other departments and mostly female, are planning drinking games. Upstairs, they set up one of those foldable white tables and create a game board of sorts. This consists of red solo cups arranged in a crescent in the middle and arcs of seven shots on opposing sides of the table. The shot glasses are multicolored and the solo cups are obstacles of sorts. To my left, I see K. wearing welder’s clothing on the chair next to the table; she is obviously more experienced as a shop worker than I am. Also, there is a mild feeling of being uninvited.
The game begins and after an unobserved toss of a quarter, a girl on my side of the table is already compelled to take all seven shots of vodka. (Like many games with quarters, this turns out to be a game of stupidity.) Due to excessive inebriation, I never get to engage in substantial conversation with these girls, particularly the petite Indian girl I was attracted to. I do however make drunken, unfortunate comments about her to one of the non-participants, who blushes in embarrassment in the pale blue light.