Not a Job Interview


alison_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Not a job interview
Synopsis A random encounter in the hospital cafeteria leads to a discussion of genetic research and job prospects.
Date September 14, 2008

St. Luke's Hospital

St. Luke's Hospital is known for its high-quality care and its contributions to medical research. Its staff place an emphasis on compassion for and sensitivity to the needs of their patients and the communities they serve. In addition to nearby Columbia University, the hospital collaborates with several community groups, churches, and programs at local high schools. The associated Roosevelt Hospital offers a special wing of rooms and suites with more amenities than the standard hospital environment; they wouldn't seem out of place in a top-rated hotel. That said, a hospital is a hospital — every corridor and room still smells faintly of antiseptic.

The cafeteria of St Luke's is filled with early-morning bustle. Cleaning staff have cordoned off a portion of the hall to deal with the results of an accidental collision between two sleepy patrons, and the remainder is thronged with those queuing for food and coffee and those who have already staked a claim to one of the available seats.

At one table near the windows, a young woman in black lycra sits with her brow furrowed and the table decorated with books as well as breakfast. Her meal receives only absent-minded and intermittent attention, most of her focus upon the pages before her. The observant might recognise the blue cover of the latest printing of Chandra Suresh's now-famous book, while the other volumes are a medical dictionary and one of the more reputable of the array of commentaries upon the Professor's work.

Alison is making her way into the cafeteria. Morning is the best time to visit; people aren't awake yet, and it gives her the best opportunity to check things out at the hospital without drawing too much attention. She picks up some fruit and coffee from the offerings available to her, and moves to find a table. Lack of options brings her towards Ygraine's table, and she can't help but blink in surprise at the array of books. "Interesting selections."

Ygraine looks up with a start, blinking slightly dopily at Alison as she brings her mind back to the physical world. "Oh! Sorry. Would you like a seat? Ahh, please", she says hastily, accent distinctly British and educated. She gestures an invitation to join her. "Things weren't quite so busy when I arrived", she admits sheepishly, clearing a little more room on the table.

The other woman seems that much more surprised by the British accent. She chuckles. "You pick an odd place to do research." She does sit at the offered table, though, putting down her fruit and coffee.

Ygraine shrugs, expression a little sheepish. "I was here to make a delivery - leaving something for a colleague who's in here at the moment. Figured that I could put in a little study. I _thought_ that things'd be quiet around here at this time of the morning…."

Alison tilts her head just a bit. "You're making deliveries and researching unusual genetic abnormalities at the same time? One of those is an interesting hobby in light of the other." She peels her banana and takes a bite.

Ygraine laughs, squirming a little bashfully. "I like to try to keep my brain occupied. You'll find an array of people working as couriers - but I admit that I'm one of the more educated." She shrugs slightly, gesturing towards the books. "It seems to make sense to try to understand it as best I can."

The doctor looks interested at the comment. "If genetics is your interest…and if you're as intelligent as you claim…then why are you working as a courier?" It might be taken as an attack on her intelligence, but neither the tone nor the expression are hostile; it seems like a legitimate question.

Ygraine chuckles softly. "A mix of reasons. It keeps me on a bike, for one thing. I had hoped to be at Beijing this Summer, and still intend to compete seriously. Riding for the courier service provides me with a good bit of training. I was also… I was working at the UN, in November '06. I'm here to try to face down a few personal demons. And to see if I can do a little bit to help the city get back on its feet. Couriers are some of the few people willing to cut through the ruined areas to keep the halves of the city in contact. It's not a great service to humanity, but… it's something that I can do here and now."

Alison looks amused. "First courier, then genetics student, and now athlete." A wry smile. "Your ability would be more impressive if you focused it. You do yourself no credit to not."

Ygraine shrugs slightly. "I wasn't able to qualify for the Olympics this year. The next are in four years' time. To get fit, I need to… overcome a few things. I was on Broadway when The Bomb went off. Most of those demons I mentioned came as a result of that. The study…." She shrugs. "I'm not going to let my brain atrophy simply because I spend a lot of time on a bike. It's not as if I'm going to be able to cycle professionally forever, after all."

Alison sips her coffee. "And so what are your plans once you are no longer an athlete? You don't worry that it will be too late in life to make such a radical career shift?" She indicates the books. "This is not a simple topic."

Ygraine blinks, then laughs. "Oh, I'm not intending to become a geneticist. But it's not as if the principles involved are beyond me. Ideally, I suspect that I'd probably get back to analytical work for the UN or the like - that's probably what my degrees have best prepared me for. This… I'm not looking to break new ground in research. Understanding what has already been discovered and what is currently being proposed - that should be within my capabilities. The specialist medical journals are still rather over my head, but surveys of their results and competent discussions of the state of the debate are managable."

Alison nods, finishing the last of the banana. "So…what is it you do for the UN?" Another sip of coffee follows, as she looks to the cyclist curiously.

"Did", corrects Ygraine with a rueful grimace. "I was interning for one of the analytical departments. I had hopes of making it a "real" position, but… found myself in a refugee camp hospital, then an institution instead. Still, the fact that they employed me once gives hope that I can make it back in again. And if not… there are charities and other non-governmental organisations that I can aim for. Alternatively, I could go back to translating - I spent a while between my degrees working in that field - but I'd rather do something that involves a little more active mental application. I enjoy figuring out how and why things have turned out the way they have, and attempting to work out how they're likely to develop in future."

Alison looks thoughtful. "There are various independent researchers and thinktanks which work in this field." She reaches out and taps Activating Evolution. "You might be able to find something as a lab or research assistant."

Ygraine lifts a brow, then chuckles. "I suppose that it IS something of a growth industry at the moment…. But I've not really thought about getting into it. I have the qualifications to enter university as a science undergraduate, but nothing further in the field. Thanks to my cycling, I know a good deal about biomechanics, nutrition, and the like - but again, I hold no formal qualifications in those fields. I suppose that I might be able to do a good job reviewing the body of research, rather than directly working in the lab… but being a bottom-level lab tech doesn't appeal to me too much, I confess. I want to use my brain, not merely clean beakers and fetch supplies for others using theirs."

The other woman…presumably doctor…sips her coffee again. "True. But such a position might be a stepping-stone towards a more relevant internship. If as you say you lack the official credentials, you will have to impress someone with your abilities instead."

Ygraine quirks a wry smile. "Someone such as yourself?", she asks, tone amused. "This is feeling almost like a job interview…." After a moment, she offers her hand. "Ygraine FitzRoy."

She shakes the offered hand. "Nothing official. But I find myself amused. Doctor Alison Meier." Depending on how closely Ygraine reads the references in footnotes and the like, she may or may not recognize the name.

Ygraine laughs softly. "Amused, hmmm? I'm glad that I can provide that, at least", she says with a smile. "Mmmmm. I suppose that one thing I _could_ offer might be translation. I know that in my own fields, it can take forever for research in one language to filter through into another…. Though if I remember right, I seem to recall coming across your name in some of what I read, so it doesn't seem as if you're in dire need of any help…."

The doctor looks amused. "You'd be amazed how often someone can find themselves in need of good help. But as I said; this isn't a job interview; it sounds as if this is long-term future for you."

Ygraine shrugs slightly. "Textual translation is the sort of thing that doesn't need to be done between particular hours of the day. It's chiefly an isolated pursuit. If someone wanted me to set about providing English translations of French research, I could start today. It's not as if doing a bit of work now would close any future options for me."

That provokes an amused chuckle. "If I were looking for help, it would be with research and laboratory work, not translation. Translation is easy to come by."

Ygraine arches a brow. "Professional-standard translators with the capacity to understand a significant portion of what they work on… those are rather more rare. As demonstrated in part by the lack of routine translation of research between languages. But perhaps this arena of research is receiving so much money that that's not a problem. If so, you are fortunate in your specialisation. Most researchers and academics struggle with ad hoc or personal translations, rather than paid-for versions."

She smiles back. "True. But when one is already doing the cutting-edge research, it becomes less relevant to follow the work of other people." Or when you have a monolithic ego. "If one is not in the lead, the view never changes."

Ygraine lifts both brows this time. "And you are in the lead in all aspects of research in the field? That would be impressive indeed - and would beg the question of why you might need any intelligent help at all. If no other researcher can offer insight, why do you have any need for more than a beaker-washing assistant? Surely part of cutting-edge research involves retaining as full an awareness as possible of others' work - if only to confirm what has been ruled out…"

A laugh at that. "For someone who was concerned that this sounded too much like a job interview, you are pressing rather hard for the job." She seems amused. "If I were to hire someone, they would have to perform a wide array of tasks. It would not be a part-time position."

"And for someone not considering offering a post", responds Ygraine with a smile, "you are very keen to persuade me to make this my future career…. In truth - my primary concerns for long-term employment are that the job intrigue and engage me, and that it be of greater use than the lining of my pocket. I have many ways open to me of making a comfortable living: if I'm to commit a large part of my life to something, I want it to offer rather more than an income. This", she gestures to the books, "is a particular field of research I had _not_ thought of as a possible career… but if you're correct, it could be an interesting possibility to consider."
Alison stands, having finished her coffee. "I will consider it as well. You have a number?" she asks. She seems practical enough that now that breakfast time is done, it's work time.

Ygraine blinks, then nods and turns aside to rummage in the front pocket of her backpack. After a moment, she holds out a card between two fingers. "Do you have one yourself?"

Alison takes out a business card and passes it over. "Best of luck in your endeavors." And with that, she walks off.

Ygraine watches the odd doctor depart, before eyeing her card for a few moments… then carefully tucking it away and returning to her breakfast and study….

Should anyone else research the field: Alison's published work relates to older documents supporting Suresh's theories before the bomb, and also articles stating a theory that such genetic anomalies could open new frontiers on genetic modification if properly studied.

September 13th: Not the Doctor
September 14th: Come Out - Part One
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License