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Eph Spotting

A nice story from Andrew Wang ’08.

I just thought I’d clue you in on a random alumni encounter I had about a month ago. I’ve been studying Chinese in Taiwan for the past three months, and as anybody who’s been to Taipei can tell you, convenience stores are ubiquitous. One night, I was sitting down in a 7-11 scarfing down a quick dinner before I was to meet up with friends, and a thirty-something Asian man tapped me on the shoulder and asked in perfect English, “Excuse me, but did you go to Williams?” (I just so happened to be wearing my Williams sweatshirt that day). It turns out he was a Williams alum, class of 1998, and he was vacationing in Taiwan. If I recall correctly, he was working in Shanghai, and his name was Ken. Unfortunately, aside from telling him my name and the fact that I’d just recently graduated, I couldn’t really have a conversation with him, as I was already running late.

What’s the most unusual place that Williams has come up for you? My story involves Marine Corps Office Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia . . .

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#1 Comment By rory On December 29, 2008 @ 9:52 am

street corner in barcelona’s barri gotic. legitimately did a double take.

#2 Comment By Ronit On December 29, 2008 @ 10:25 am

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai. Saw a boy of, say 12-14 years of age, standing in line at Customs wearing a Williams sweatshirt. He was accompanied by his older sister and mom. I asked him if he went to Williams. He told me his dad did, back in the 1980s. I high fived him.

#3 Comment By Ronit On December 29, 2008 @ 10:36 am

Also, rural West Virgina – spotted a car with a Williams sticker on it. Probably belonged to my freshman-year suitemate, who was possibly the only person on campus at the time from West Virginia. Now that I think of it, this was a far more unlikely encounter than Mumbai airport.

#4 Comment By lurker88 On December 29, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

I know classmates who’ve run into each other on the Acropolis, on the Tube in London, and (in my case) in the Sistine Chapel. But my favorite Eph encounter is this:
Early 90s, walking along a commercial strip in Newport, RI, from the Folk Fest to our distant parking lot, we pass a family seafood restaurant where a guy in a lobster suit is waving at passing cars to attract customers. As I walk by and the back of my sweatshirt is revealed, I hear, “Hey, did you go to Williams?” I turn and the lobster holds out his giant claw to shake my hand. I can’t remember his name, but he was a 70s graduate who was coaching at a private school and working at the restaurant on the side. Wish I’d had the presence of mind to take a photo.

#5 Comment By Guy Creese ’75 On January 1, 2009 @ 11:43 am

I’ve accosted Williams grads a number of times. When I was attending Williams in the early 70’s and lived in Champaign-Urbana, IL during the summers, I saw a fellow walking down the street looking very preppie (very rare in the middle of Big 10 land) come out of the local bank. I knew a Williams grad was a high-level officer at the bank, so I thought to myself, “What the hell,” and asked, “Excuse me, did you go to Williams College?” It turns out that he was the banker I was thinking of.

Another time I said hello to John Sayles (no Williams paraphernalia to be seen, recognized him), who sat in the seat in front of me on a shuttle flight from Boston to Newark.

Another time I saw a car with a Williams sticker outside the National Archives in Washington and left a note, figuring it was Ed Case, a classmate who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives at the time. Turns out it was his brother (works for the Federal Reserve, and he’s also a Williams grad), who promptly invited me over to his house, site unseen, due to the Williams connection. I would have gone, but was leaving the next day.

I would highly recommend the practice. Serendipity reigns!

#6 Comment By Ephraim’s Conscience On January 2, 2009 @ 3:06 am

Near Trafalgar Square, London, around 10 PM, last autumn. Wearing a Williams XC Hoodie, wandering around looking for food; all of a sudden I hear someone I knew from the class of ’03 start yelling ‘Williams! Williams!’ Random, but wonderful.

Another time, while wearing the same hoodie, I ran into a pair of Wms kids and their parents in Boston’s South Station. A parent asked if I went to Wms and I said ‘no, I stole this from the guy who was wearing it, I guess he did. I wouldn’t have bothered chasing him down if I had known he was a runner, it wasn’t worth the trouble.’

Dead silence.

#7 Comment By ’11 On January 3, 2009 @ 1:40 am

Riding on the D.C. Metro, I found an early 2000s alum because she was wearing a Williams rugby shirt. I was just visiting for the week, but she invited me to some alumni group shindig the next day.

Another encounter: in El Super Burrito in downtown San Francisco, a (slightly inebriated) man asked about my Williams shirt and identified himself as a mid-90s alum.

#8 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On January 3, 2009 @ 2:55 am

Frankfurt International, 17 Jan 1997, afternoon (after a 220kph drive from Prague): —– —— ’92 is on the other side of a moving walkway as I rush to meet —- —— ’97;

Brussels, 24 December 2006, early morning; —— ——– ’94 is three places in line behind me at the Continental counter as I try to rebook (Heathrow is closed and will be for several days; the US ambassador to Belgium is in front of me and trying to make it back to Boston; I last saw —— (’94) at MS’s presentation in ’02 @ SFO; I snub —— given the charming speech she gave about “fuck you” money etc at the event in ’02 (for her, about $10M, or so she said); the Ambassador & I get stuck in Brussels for Christmas; ——- tries to make it across the Chunnel &

#9 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On January 3, 2009 @ 3:07 am

… and then of course, the Currier residents who blocked me in by parking their black Jetta behind my white one in Nashville’s West End during Spring Break last year. I called Security, who were most amused, with the permit number; I won’t embarrass the owners with further details…