Thatcher Montgomery, career-change correspondent
While many students were oohing and aahing over large companies like Facebook or Google at the EOC and TOC, another group was getting a different kind of attention.
Behind the CUC, a low sedan, covered in instruments, crawled along the pavement. Students and staff alike shuffled aside to avoid it, only glancing at it in quickly before moving away. The car rolled to a stop, all four doors swinging open, to reveal an empty interior.
“Hi! Do you want to learn more about Uber?” Out of nowhere, a smiling representative accosted readme. After retreating to a safe vantage point on the other side of the tennis courts, readme settled down to watch the Uber self-driving car and its eerily cheerful human-car translator.
Some passers-by shunned the whole thing; others made eye contact before crossing themselves and hurrying off. Still others approached to toss a résumé into the gaping maw of the empty driver’s seat.
Some even enthusiastically chattered with the car (via the human interface). With ninja-like skills, readme crept closer to eavesdrop on their conversations.
“Uber is so great! Your business strategies come up a lot on my classes,” said a student wearing a Tepper t-shirt. “Only good things, I hope,” the human replied after cocking his head towards the car for a moment. “Oh, sure,” the student laughed while handing over his résumé. “Make sure you notice my experience in crushing competition and making shady deals.”
Students weren’t the only ones visiting with Uber—professors stopped by, too. One of them spoke to readme on condition of anonymity: “I heard the pay at Uber is great, and that they were looking to hire CMU profs. I’ve got a family, you know, so an undisclosed pay raise would really help out. Unfortunately, they weren’t interested in a trombone teacher.”
Over the course of the afternoon, a few of the professors stepped into the car and never came out. A firm handshake, accompanied by the exchange of numerous small slips of green paper that readme couldn’t quite make out, usually occurred before the faculty member entered the vehicle.
It was getting late, and the Uber was almost full, when readme noticed a philosophy professor approaching. In a tweed jacket with elbow patches, carrying a pipe in one hand and Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals in the other, the academic made his way to the car and the visibly nervous (but still smiling) translator. “Cheerio, good fellows! Are you interested in an ethics professor, perchance?”
“Dear God, no,” the Uber translator muttered, dropping the smile. “I don’t care if I get terminated, we gotta get out of here.” Hopping onto the sentient sedan’s back, the car-human duo screeched into the distance with their bounty of CMU professors safely inside.