ratpag Introduces Career Academics to the Outside World


ratpag is back!  Did you think we had disappeared after our nearly two-week, unannounced hiatus?  We wouldn’t do that.  We just know how the world works and we just know that you, the reader, weren’t at work the past 10 days or so (ratpag was because ratpag’s job is amazing).  So if you, the reader, weren’t at work then we presume you, the reader, wouldn’t be as apt to check your beloved rail-and-transit-and-popular culture website.  Anyway anyway – we’re all glad to be back at the office searching for ways to pass the time and end another miserable work day.  Happy New Year!

We pick up another year of ratpag with a submission by our New Jersey correspondent…

ratpag’s New Jersey correspondent knows that its readers include many university academics—great thinkers.  To help them understand the world outside academics, here are three ways the university world is similar to the world of rail-and-transit.

“Excessive” Drinking is Encouraged


Of course we’re using an early 90s Simpsons reference!

People in the academic world are known for their drinking habits.  Colleges are regularly portrayed as places of heavy drinking.  News reports depict out-of-control parties and professors “getting puke-loaded and passing out in bars.”

ratpag imagines that you, the academic reader may be apprehensive about a life in rail-and-transit….well don’t worry:  drinking is common in the transit world too.  Down south, alcohol advertisements may help provide funding for MARTA.  And, since alcohol can be so dangerous if people don’t use mass transit, Portland’s transit system will offer free rides (or did offer – hope you took advantage!) on New Year’s eve.  Sometimes though, like in the academic world, people try to curtail the drinking, and they will institute restrictions on alcohol use when it becomes out-of-control.

Current Events Directly Impact You

You in the academic world understand how current events can impact you directly.  For example, students at Columbia needed to postpone their final exams due to the “existential worry” caused by current events.  If you leave academics for rail-and-transit, current events can still impact you.  The People’s Climate March impacted subway service in Manhattan. And, recent protests have shut down rapid transit systems and Amtrak lines.

You Eat Fine Food

In the academic world, food choices are very good.  WebMD suggests “smart foods” such as oats, hemp seed, beans, and coffee.  Our friends as BuzzFeed list thirty one foods you can make in college!  Choices include oats and chili.  [your correspondent has not cooked thirty one different meals in his entire life, and you could have that much variety in four years of college!]   Business Insider has done the work of finding the 15 best college dining halls.

The world of rail-and-transit is known for its food too!  Amtrak provides its riders with very good food options and is even generous enough to subsidize some of the cost.  At New York’s Pennsylvania Station, the food court is enjoyed by commuters and locals alike.  The Taco Bell in the food court earned a respectable 2.5 Yelp stars, but for the selective eater, the location a block south on 8th Avenue scores an even 3.0 stars.

Hopefully our academic readers can see the similarities between the college life and the rail-and-transit system.  And if due to graduation, lack of funding, or a misguided decision by a tenure committee; they leave the academic life, they will feel right at home in the world of rail-and-transit.

Back to your ratpag editor here.  Tune in later this week as ratpag introduces a new installment titled ratpag’s Book Club.  Our first book will be The Last Great Walk by Wayne Curtis.

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