This is an excerpt from an unfinished novel, one of the few which has not (yet?) been merged into the omnibus Society Changed.
Emily Willis could hardly stand the wait. Meeting Rivera in person for the first time, wow.
Months ago the two Canadian teenagers had used a weird service called RoomXene to seek possible roommates for college or university.
Rivera hadn’t understood the distinction, but Emily said it didn’t matter as they as they would both be undergraduates.
“Americans often call something a college when it is really a university”, Em had explained. “But real colleges don’t have grad schools.”
Rivera wasn’t so sure about that and the two had enjoyed a friendly argument about it by email, finally agreeing that this was true here in BC, anyway.
At the time, they weren’t sure they’d end up in BC, or even in Canada. RoomXene matched students as roommates first, then they negotiated with each other for a place to go to school and share that room. The service had suggested various alternatives, giving them pros and cons, but not actually naming the institutions.
The girls didn’t disagree, not at all. They agreed they were just too uncertain to make any decision except the obvious one. They agreed to ask RoomXene for a single best option.
The service had suggested Hanbury.
“Never heard of it”, Rivera had agreed, hoping that they wouldn’t end up in some seedy place offering worthless degrees. But no, RoomXene had covered that. It had compared the apparent rankings from various sources. Several reviewers had not given this tiny backwater college any ranking at all, but the few that did rated it fairly much higher than other plausible alternatives.
Rivera looked it up.
“Hmm. OK, it’s here in BC, hard to get to from anywhere, but it’s not bad at all. It’s actually in the top 10% of North American post-secondary institutions, to use the neutral term. Oh, it’s a four year college. The whole place is small. The thing is, it’s cheap, real cheap, low fees and the residences don’t cost much at all.”
“If it’s good, and it’s cheap, why is it small?”
“It’s a long way out of the way, in what’s not much more than a ghost town, and it has really high entrance standards.”
Not too high, though, as the girls were both good students. So it had been decided. They’d take RoomXene’s recommendation.
Earlier, after being matched on the basis of personality, interests and other things, including their taste in music, the girls had begun by exchanging emails.
Since then, Emily had been online with Rivera, spoken with her by phone and on a video chat. Now they were about to share a room, without ever having met in person.
So far as she could tell, Rivera was a wonderful choice for roommate. Did that mean Hanbury was a wonderful choice for college?
The whole theory behind RoomXene was that the two individuals who agreed to be roommates would negotiate between themselves a college or university to attend. What happened if they shirked that responsibility and let RoomXene suggest the single best?
Emily hoped it would all work out. Whatever happened, at least she was sure of a friend to share it.