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Hitting the road at WesTrek, literally

They said, “Go West!” And a large contingency of HBS students made the Trek.

On Wednesday, January 3rd, Siebel rented out Fanny and Alexander’s for the entire group of budding entrepreneurs. As the night progressed, the attention of diehard football fans turned to the national championship game being played between Oklahoma and Florida State. As the game progressed, some loud, inebriated Oklahoma fans began to needle a group of men from Section NC. Brendan Strong decided not to take this lip, and took things to the next level. Going up to talk to them, their conversation turned to internet startup PayPal. [Where else but the Bay Area would people ruin a perfectly good bout of smack talking with tech talk?] Brendan said something to the effect that PayPal was OK. This seemed to set off one of the Oklahoma fans, who said, “What are you talking about? PayPal is great!” A heated discussion then ensued, and Brendan employed some expletives to help hold his ground. Brendan was shocked the next morning, when he attended the PayPal presentation and found the Oklahoma fans also in attendance, but now he was shouting the virtues of PayPal, as it seemed they were the founders of the company.

A couple days later, before the Friday night Marina pub crawl, some guys from Section NC were dining at Balboa Caf‚ when a group of strangely dressed women came up and started talking to Rodrigo Lara. When Rodrigo explained that he was Brazilian, the women asked if everyone was from Brazil. Chris Brezski quickly replied “Yes, we are. Hello, my name is Christophe.” The men then put on their best Portuguese accents, and the women bought it—hook, line, and sinker. The women proceeded to ask strange questions, like which woman the guys thought would be easiest to take home. “Tomas” Wieand ended up with one of the women sitting in his lap for twenty minutes, at the end of which she was asking if Rodrigo was really Brazilian, because his English was way too good. In the end, it turned out that the women were acting too. They finally admitted that they were doing a clandestine documentary for the Oxygen Network on how men categorized women according to their dress, and each woman was portraying a particular stereotype. Stay tuned for the airing of that one.

Thinking there was no reason to stop there, Chrisophe and Tomas started the next day early, watching the football playoffs a sports bar at the Hyatt called Knuckles. They arrived at 11 AM, and were surprised to learn when they closed their tab at 4 PM that their bill had totaled to…180 American dollars. Now that’s a lot of high caliber football watching. Later that evening they blended back into the crowd at Ruby Skye, where everyone ended up dancing on stage “with great spectacle.”

It seems there was lots of fun with rental automobiles on WesTrek too. Thank goodness for the Loss/Damage Waiver. Johnson Tan drove 50 or so miles from San Jose to Burlingame with his parking brake on. Matt Carson, Jessica Oleson, and Lauren Brouhard were pulled over in front of the Hyatt for making an illegal left turn, a situation that was compounded by two things. First, the rental was in Lauren’s name, but Matt was driving, and the cop wasn’t at all happy about it. Luckily, Lauren used her negotiation skills from the back seat to eventually talk the policeman out of a ticket. More importantly, this entire twenty minute ordeal was witnessed by about fifteen other WesTrekkers who got to see the show while standing in front of the Hyatt. They were further entertained when the three detained individuals ended up pulling out a bunch of empty wine glasses from the back of the car, as they had obtained souvenirs from a wine tasting at the Francis Coppola bar in Palo Alto hours before.

Perhaps the best tale of adventure from the Trek, however, comes from a group of three daredevils who had seen one too many San Francisco car chase movies in their youth. Seemed driving up and down the steep hills of the city, these boys also remembered that they had been blessed with the Loss/Damage Waiver on their rental car contract. After some minor discussions, they decided to see if they could “catch some air.” Now for the reader who hasn’t dreamed of being Dirty Harry, the way the roads work on the hills of San Francisco is that the steep downhills are intersected with cross streets, and there is a stop sign at each intersection. At first these boys tried accelerating from the stop sign through the flat intersections to get some lift when the road dropped away again, but it seemed they just couldn’t build up enough speed to get liftoff. So they then were forced to raise the bar, as their answer to Clint’s celebrated question seemed to be that they did feel lucky. One of the punks volunteered to become the spotter, and he got out of the car and stood near a stop sign, ensuring that no other traffic was approaching. The driver and third guy, sitting alone in the back seat, then retreated up the hill to try and hit the drop off with improved velocity. And they succeeded, apparently, as cross traffic was parted, the intersection crossed swiftly, the drop off reached, liftoff attained, sparks flew and the guy in the back seat hit his head hard against the ceiling. Mission accomplished.

Actually, there’s a chance the cars were being used for fun a little too much, as a friend on the recruiter side reports that of the 8 HBS students scheduled to visit his company, only 3 actually made it. The rest were found hours later, taunting skate punks with photos of flying Ford Focuses, saying, “You think can catch air like that, punk? Well do ya?”

January 29, 2001
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