Other than the stories I've written, what I've enjoyed most about my job has been watching the University--literally. The magazine staff works in an old, two-story house on North Decatur Road just across the street from the Fishburne parking deck. Both of the offices I have occupied are on the second floor, and each one has large windows that overlook the street.
In the past five years, a lot of activity has gone on under my windows. Perhaps the strangest was a scene that took place every afternoon for almost two years. At precisely 2:15, a bespectacled man in a small, rundown Toyota would make an illegal U-turn in the middle of the street. Every day. You could set your watch by it. More than a year after first noticing this unremitting pattern, I decided to go out and flag the man down to find out what was going on. Only then did I learn that he was delivering the Wall Street Journal to the Department of Economics, which is housed two doors down. Instead of going up the street and turning around legally, he just decided to save time and improvise.
Recently, another sort of improvisation has popped up outside my window. The Fishburne parking deck sits in a giant hole, and the steep rim around the hole is currently being used by scores of Emory students and neighborhood kids as a natural mountain-bike launching pad. Almost every sunny afternoon the bikers line up, head down one side of the ridge to build up speed, and then rocket into the air on the other side. Needless to say, some of the riders are more graceful than others, which makes the air show all the more interesting. A steel sign was recently posted in the bikers' path prohibiting their high-flying fun, but the sign quickly, and mysteriously, disappeared.
My second-floor office also gives me a fine vantage point from which to take in one of the University's most joyous days. I have seen five graduating classes pass my windows on their way to and from Commencement. Many times I have caught a blurred glimpse of a black-robed student, obviously late, dashing down North Decatur, hand tightly gripping mortar board, racing furiously for the Quadrangle. After Commencement, the tone is just the opposite, as new graduates walk slowly and contentedly up the road, surrounded by family and friends, and radiating an unmistakable aura of pride and relief.
These are just a few of the things I've noticed in the past half decade that my desk has faced out on North Decatur Road. I've also seen Emory funerals and weddings, Emory cross country teams valiantly chugging up and down the street in weather that would make a mailman cringe, and countless ambulances racing toward Emory Hospital. With so much Olympic activity taking place on campus this summer, I can only imagine the show to come.--J.D.T.
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