His: Tuesday

Having survived Monday’s adventure in bungee jumping, Rufus felt ready to take on the world, or if that was an overreach, the software project.  He spoke with his advisor about how unlikely it would be to find just one program to fit multiple academic needs. The university would need to cough up money for discipline-specific programs. Rufus groaned. That might require special fundraising events, increases in tuition or fees, or cutting resources, like the salaries of graduate assistants. All his life, Rufus dreamt about becoming a college professor. His advisor realized his potential and worked with him to optimize his transition to academic life. His advisor often treated him like he was already a graduate assistant, only he wasn’t paid. However, he was assured there would be a place for him in the graduate program. First, he’d get a Master’s in Science, then a PhD, and from there, a postdoc. Suddenly, his trajectory seemed stifling. Rufus had a genius-level IQ, so he most likely would succeed in whatever field he chose. But was academia—was statistics–the right option for him or would another possibility be better?

Rufus dragged himself to the computer lab. He sat at his computer and did yet another search for software, focusing on something that would work best for business and economics. Suddenly, he stumbled across Stata, an old program that evolved over time to work well with a variety of disciplines. Rufus felt a surge in adrenaline, just like the feeling he had when he jumped off the bridge and was pulled back by the bungee cord. He called his advisor and asked him to come to campus. 

The advisor was ecstatic with the software Rufus found. It cost less than special software marketed to individual disciplines, which would make the university bean counters happy. The advisor took Rufus out for a celebratory lunch on the university tab, of course. And then his advisor said, “Rufus, I’m very happy with your work. We’re all impressed, and we want you in our graduate program as soon as possible. If you do a summer session—and it will be a full load—you can graduate in December and start the Master’s in January.”

Rufus thought for a minute, then said, “I appreciate the thought, but I definitely need some time off. Missing spring break was tough. My girlfriend and her friends went to the Bahamas, all expenses paid. I think I need the summer off. And if we’re done here, I’m going to take the rest of spring break off. My best friend and I are going zip lining. Maybe we’ll hit one of the theme parks, too.”

While his advisor was disappointed, Rufus felt relieved, just the way he felt as he when his jump was over and he was back on the bridge. A career in academia was going to be daunting, but he realized that he needed balance, whatever he eventually decided to do. While he didn’t need to seek extreme thrills the way Penn did, Rufus realized he needed to step away from the books, away from the computer, and venture outside his comfort zone. And never again would he turn down a free spring break vacation anywhere!

Later that day, Rufus texted Penn to see how he was doing with his epidemiology paper.

Penn texted, “Dude, I could use a break. I’m stuck. I keep going over what I’ve written because the more I write, the less I understand. And I’m sick of this paper. I want it over. Before the weekend.”

“How does this sound?” Rufus asked. “I’ll come over, be your beta reader, and help with the stats. We can order a pizza and drink all the beer or colas you have in your refrigerator.”

“Thanks, man. Then maybe tomorrow we can have some fun,” Penn replied.

“I have some ideas that you might like. I’ll be at your place in a half-hour or so,” Rufus said. He knew that Penn was going to be shocked and surprised when he suggested some roller coasters. Actually, Rufus was a little surprised himself!

2 thoughts on “His: Tuesday

  1. “ Having survived Monday’s adventure in bungee jumping, Rufus felt ready to take on the world, or if that was an overreach, the software project.” WONDERFUL wording.

    Rufus is brave, letting on that his girlfriend and others and a balanced life are important to him. Academicians might decide he isn’t their man, ultimately. It will be interesting seeing where this goes.


    1. Thank you. I’m not sure where Rufus is headed. If he goes into academia, it will be with his eyes open, knowing that he will need to make sacrifices and jump through hoops. I don’t think I could give up an all-expenses-paid vacation to the Bahamas.


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