Bob Gates handed diplomas to Texas A&M grads (including my roommate Lauren) for the last time this weekend, and was sworn in as Secretary of Defense this morning. I’m starting a new job today, too. Granted, I spend very little of my time dealing with Peace in the Middle East (I’ll mostly answer the phone today until a project comes up), but it’s an exciting day nonetheless.
While at A&M, Dr. Gates had a golf cart that he used to navigate campus, complete with horns sawed off on the front and maroon A&M fuzzy dice hanging from the rear-view mirror. We had seen him eating in the basement of the MSC (the student union on campus) often, usually with a student or two. About a year ago, my friend Lisa and I left Dr. Gates a note on his golf cart asking if he would have lunch with us sometime. It was a semester later that Lisa got the call on her cell phone from his secretary, regretting that Dr. Gates would not have time to eat lunch, but asking us to come into his office for a “courtesy visit.” We rode the elevator up to Gates’ office – which takes up the entire 10th floor of Rudder Tower (the second tallest building on campus, the tallest A&M bonfire was only one foot shy of its 11 stories) – not knowing what to expect. We found Dr. Gates to be incredibly down to earth. The meeting was very relaxed, we just talked about things going on in our lives. At the time, I was amazed that the former director of the CIA was so interested in my study abroad in France or Lisa’s involvement in a program encouraging 8th graders in the Valley to consider college as an option. It was a great experience.
Good luck on your first day of work, Dr. Gates… mine is going very well.