Skip to content ↓
MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

Boys like cars and money by Sam M. '07

$1 billion is not enough for thefacebook, but $9 an hour is good enough for me.

DID YOU KNOW? You can create your own motivational, or de-motivational posters online at this website.

I was walking to the down Amherst Street this fine afternoon, heading to the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment offices, when I was accosted by a man in a bicycle taxi.

MAN: “Hey, do you want a ride? It’s almost free!”
ME: “Well, no, I’m actually only going to the end of this block.”
MAN: “It’s actually free!”
ME: “No, thanks anyway!”

Sam’s Mom had taught me well not to get into bicycle taxis with strangers. But as the man sped off in search of another victim, I noticed that the taxi was actually offering free rides to anybody who joined a certain group on thefacebook. And then I realized that thefacebook had now somehow come out of my computer and invaded the real, physical world. And I just despaired. Or should I say, despaired dot com?

I’m sitting down here at the Burton-Conner front desk remembering why I don’t usually work on weekday afternoons: packages come in! And then you have to log them all in a little book and sort them all alphabetically and put all of the stupid recipients’ names on the whiteboard. It takes like 15 minutes! I could write a whole blog entry in those 15 minutes! But then I remembered: I have a friend at another college who has a boyfriend whose campus job involves cleaning up poop in monkey cages. Desk is actually a pretty good job by those standards.

Actually, working desk is, without a doubt, the absolute best job that you can possibly find on the MIT campus. I’ve mentioned this in passing a few times, but I thought that now we have the AWESOME CATEGORIES SITE I would take the time to write up an actual job description

Pay: $9 per hour or something (campus minimum wage was $8.75 last time I checked)
Experience needed: None


1. Any time somebody rings the dorm doorbell, press the “door open” button. Sometimes they knock on the glass–you don’t have to open the door for them in this case, because there is a sign specifically telling them not to do so.

2. If you let someone in who doesn’t live here, check their MIT ID, ask who they’re here to visit, and log their name in the visitor guide. I have to admit, I only do this for sketchy- or imposing-looking people. Life’s too short to catalogue every wholesome Asian girl
in an MIT sweatshirt who needs to get into Burton-Conner.

3. Restock paper in the dorm printer from the supply behind desk. If there is no more behind desk, send an e-mail to the dorm telling them that barbar is, regrettably, out of paper. Barbar is our printer’s name.

4. Answer the dorm phone. We used to have to transfer calls during the dark age period when MIT campus phones could not recieve outside calls, but nobody ever taught us how to do that, so I’d always just hang up on people who asked me to transfer their call. Then, thankfully, some MIT student figured out that it would not actually cost anything extra for MIT phones to receive outside calls, and the problem was solved forever.

5. Give people keys when they get locked out of their rooms, or when they get significant others who want to live with them. Don’t forget to make them fill out the little green ket checkout card! Usually we’re discouraged from telling them that you can open any door in Burton-Conner with two spare shelving brackets. Shh! It’s our little secret, blogoverse!

6. Check people in and out of the dorm at the beginning and end of the year. This means, basically, handing them a yellow card and either dispensing or taking their key.

7. Check out movies. This involves opening the door to let people look at movies, looking at their MIT ID, and clicking like two things in the movie check-out program. Then you say, “Okay, it’s gonna be due back on the 29th!” Sometimes you’re asked to make movie recommendations, too, although that’s not really in the official job description. My standard recommendation is Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter (“The power of Christ impales you!”), but depending on what the customer is looking for, I have also been known to recommend Kinsey, Dodgeball, and Spellbound.

8. Manage dorm equipment. This includes television remote controls, ping pong paddles (but no balls), pool equipment, various board games, and a hammer. Sometimes. Well, there used to be a hammer. And I didn’t know about it. And someone needed it. So I was like “Why would we have a hammer behind desk, young lady?” And then one day I was just rooting around drawers looking for something and BAM there was the hammer. And this was before thefacebook, so I couldn’t even stalk her down and apologize.

9. Logging packages, as described above. I tend to take night shifts, which means I don’t usually have to do this, but it does mean that sometimes I have to…

10. Make small talk with night security. Usually they’ll leave you alone and let you do your p-sets, but once in a while I’ve gotten to talking to them, and it turns out that they have really interesting lives that are not entirely defined by their noctural occupations.

And, really, that’s about it. For the rest of the time you get paid $18 to sit around and do your homework for two hours. Or play Tontie. But usually I do homework. Then there are the rare occasions when you’ll have to handle a stray piece of mail or deal with the owner of a lost earring or procure a hammer or something. But those are few and far between.

Basically, as DAPER might put it, “Successful MIT students work Burton-Conner front desk all four years of their education.”

7 responses to “Boys like cars and money”

  1. “it turns out that they have really interesting lives that are not entirely defined by their noctural occupations.”

    Yep. And then there are the security guards who, I’m told, have different interesting lives every time you talk to them.

  2. Sh1fty says:

    omg Tontie is so addictive :D working front desk might be nice bit i intend to work as a freelance programmer while i’m in college raspberry all i need is a laptop and a couch(bed) smile speaking of beds, i’m a bit tired… it’s 1:26 AM, i should go to sleep…

  3. Ruth '07 says:

    Shifty, your entry is dated 7:27 PM.

  4. Jess says:

    I’m pretty bad at coming up with entry titles, but you did not just quote Good Charlotte.

    And then link to me in the same entry. (That did give me warm fuzzies, though.)

  5. Sh1fty says:

    that’s because the server is set to your time zone smile i live in croatia, it was 01:26 CET when i wrote that message.

  6. Sarah says:

    Lololol, for some reason, your blogs are really cracking me up..or maybe I’m high off the haagen-dazs strawberry sorbet. but really..excellent blog entry. makes me want to come to MIT just for the desk job.

    ::I was walking to the down Amherst Street this fine afternoon, heading to the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment offices, when I was accosted by a man in a bicycle taxi.::

    Ahahaha..”accosted”..sounds so like “assaulted” but hugely better.

  7. In February, do you slip up and tell them to return the movie on the 29th?