“Maximum Voltage!” – 7 August 2016

Last Sunday one of the main Boyos Gabin came down to San Jose to visit me. He had recently gotten a job a about a half hour away, which would allow us to hang out more often.

First we decided to grab some lunch. I listed off a few places nearby and Gab liked the idea of Johnny Rockets, so we went there. We had some burgers and caught up on old times, then we went exploring downtown.

Gav noted just how big the buildings were, a contrast to where he lived. One building that caught his eye was the Museum of Technology, so we went inside to have a look around.

First, Gavin strolled behind this roped-off area while this employee was right next to it. The person tells him he can’t be back there and he fakes that he was interested and asks some questions.

So we walked further in and arrived at a balcony area overlooking the main part of the museum. “I wonder how you get down there…” Gavin said.

We eventually found around a corner a short hallway with a staircase leading down. Gavin took a few steps toward it and stopped. I assumed it was because he saw an employee behind a podium who appeared to be taking tickets to enter.

Gav paused for a few seconds, looking forward, then he looked to the side and went through this sliding door into a completely dark room that wasn’t in use. I was caught completely off guard by this. The ticket-taker was only about five meters away and looking directly at us, so I expected at any moment for him to say “hey you can’t go in there,” but he never did.

I hesitated for a few seconds, then followed after Gavin. Again, I assumed, if the ticket-taker hadn’t seen Gavin, then surely he would have seen me, so I braced for the awkward scene of someone behind me telling me that no one was allowed in, but it didn’t happen.

The room was pretty large, it looked like an auditorium or panel room. There were about ten rows of eight or so chairs, and a stage at the front. Near the back were a few rectangular tables. The only light coming in was from the open doors on the side we entered and the back.

I noticed Gavin skulking around near the back so I slowly made my way through the dark room and followed him. On the same side that we had entered from, right next to the back corner, Gavin slid open a second door, and some light poured in.

It was all happening so fast and my nervousness was at a peak, so I couldn’t tell how far down the room we had walked, meaning that exiting in the direction that we entered meant that we could walk out right in front of the ticket-taker, on his side, or behind him.

I saw Gavin stroll out the door so there was nothing left for me to do but follow him. Directly in front of the door was the staircase we had seen earlier; between the two ran the perpendicular hallway guarded by the ticket-taker. The few steps out the door, into the bright light, and on to the staircase took only seconds, but felt like a year.

The whole time a million things were running through my mind. “Is the ticket-taker looking this way? Are there other employees around here that could see me? Did someone hear that metal sliding door open? Should I keep looking forward or scan my sides? Who are the people I’m crossing paths with? Is this staircase the way to the museum floor or are we going to wind up somewhere else we shouldn’t be?”

The overhead lights felt like spotlights, tracking my movement. The whole time I stared directly ahead toward Gav, without focusing on anything in particular and trying to use my peripheral vision to the best of my ability. My stomach felt like it had condensed into a rock. I didn’t even remember to keep breathing. I was able to barely catch vague glimpses of people walking from my right to my left. I made out from the side of my vision varying sizes and colors to them, so I concluded that they must be regular museum-goers.

When my foot touched the downward staircase I let out a sigh of relief and jokingly said “I was not ready for that.”

With that we traveled downward and made it on to the museum floor. We messed with a lot of the hands-on gadgets that they had set up. There were experiments where one could learn lock picking, test out the efficiency of wind-turbine designs, create music using blocks on a circular table, and recreate famous earthquakes on a platform that shook.

At one of these experiment stations, there were pieces where one could assemble a custom array of mirrors in an attempt to redirect light to sensors, generating power. There was a couple next to us and this lady was explaining in great depth to this gentleman just how to create the most optimal design. Gavin took a few pieces and haphazardly threw them together, while repeating a phrase he overheard from the conversation next to us: “maximum voltage!”

After having had our fill of the museum, we were hanging around near the exit on the third floor when we saw a family exit a large theater-like room. I think that the theater and the museum required different tickets to experience, as they shared a common exit but were separated from each other by a waist-high swinging door and a straight black belt stanchion pair.

“Can we come in?” They asked us from the other side of the barriers. I don’t know if they thought we worked there or perhaps thought that we were also from the theater.

Without even hesitating, Gavin confidently and immediately replied “Yeah.” He moved one of the stanchions aside and the family filed in through the swinging waist-high door.

“Wow this place has really bad security, someone could just walk right in,” mused Gavin.

“This way would have probably been a lot easier than the way we took,” I remarked with a smirk.

We passed through the barrier to the exit side, but decided to check out the theater before leaving. It was massive inside, and appeared to have a somewhat dome-like screen. The place was empty, save for a few people cleaning up. Gavin took out his phone to get a picture of the screen, but within three seconds a lady cleaning the place told us “you guys can’t be here unless you have tickets.” Gavin feigned curious ignorance and we left.

We decided to stop by the frozen-yogurt shop and get a treat. Inside, we immediately noticed two very attractive young ladies at a center table. Gavin stood about a meter away from them looking the other direction for about 10 seconds, then turned around and asked them “What flavor would you two recommend?”

“The mango, definitely the mango,” one of the ladies replied.

“Oh which one’s that?”

“The third from the left.”

“That one?” he asked pointing.

“Yeah that one.”

“Alright I’ll check it out.”

We got some yogurt cups and started making our yogurt. Gavin, faithful to his word, got the mango flavor. I was a little skeptical and went for some flavors that were tried and tested, cake batter, chocolate gelato, banana, and pop sickle.

As soon as we got our toppings and paid, we noticed the ladies from before get up and leave. We went over and sat at the table they were at.

“Wow, those ladies left really fast,” Gavin noted.

“Yup, the ladies around here tend to be a bit meaner than the ones back home,” I replied.

We continued eating our froyo for a few minutes and I asked Gavin “what type did you get?”

“Mango, what about you?”

“Cake batter.”

“I should have gotten that, that sounds so much better.”

“Those girls probably told you the worst flavor on purpose.”

“They probably did!”

Gavin leaned back in his chair and looked out the window. “Damn, these girls around here really are bangin’,” he said, “I’m starting to feel like Nick!”