One in Two Thousand: Alex Kling ’16

March 9, 2016 by Matthew Borin, Managing Editor

Grace Flaherty/Photo Editor.

Grace Flaherty/Photo Editor.

You may have heard Alex Kling’s name shouted across campus, an activity known as the “Alex Kling game.” I met with Alex to find out why he tells everyone to join WUFO [Williams Ultimate Frisbee Organization] and reflect on his collegiate quiz bowl career. Despite his best efforts to derail the interview, I was able to learn about some of his antics. 

How’s BUFO [Williams Ultimate Frisbee Organization B Team]?

BUFO’s great. I love BUFO. BUFO’s pretty much the best team on campus. I don’t know if I need to clarify this, but that’s the B team for ultimate Frisbee. It’s WUFO but B, so you put the B instead of the W. It doesn’t really make sense now that I think about it. But yeah, it’s a great group of people. I can’t really imagine a better group of people to have spent the last four years with.

What do you like about ultimate?

I think it’s a very inclusive culture, and people are very focused on letting individuals be who they are. I really appreciate that, and it’s something I care a lot about. And I love ultimate, it’s a fun sport. My Junior Advisor [JA] played Ultimate, actually.

Is that why you joined?

I played in high school. Then I went to the Chicago sendoff, which is actually the first time I met my JA, who’s also from Chicago. And we talked for an hour about ultimate, and she was probably like, “Wow, this kid’s weird.” That’s most people’s response when they meet me. And then I came here and joined the ultimate Frisbee team, realized B team was a place for me and stayed there. It’s great. You should join.

Do you say that to everyone?

Well, yeah. But everyone should. It’s a great group of people.

I understand I’m in the presence of a former quiz bowl champion. 

I used to be a part of something called quiz bowl, or College Bowl, which is an academic trivia competition that I did a lot in high school and used to do here, before recently leaving the team in the hands of two very capable first years.

What did you like about doing quiz bowl?

Quiz bowl is something I’ve enjoyed since high school, since I enjoy learning things. It’s very liberal artsy in that way. Quiz bowl really introduced me to a world of knowledge I would have never have had access to. Questions about philosophy led me to read philosophy, in part to get more questions but then [because I thought,] “Oh, this stuff is pretty cool.” And literature, I’ve read a ton of poetry for quiz bowl questions, but now I feel like I’ve read a decent amount of stuff. I can have a conversation with anyone about any major. I don’t know a lot, but I have enough of a basic understanding about a lot of things because of quiz bowl to BS my way through a lot of conversations.

What is quiz bowl like? 

I will say now, being out of it, that if you think of the stereotypical quiz bowl community, that’s what quiz bowl is like. Not at Williams, but in the broader quiz bowl community.

What was it like in one sentence?

I was at a quiz bowl tournament once, and a guy I’d never met walked up to me and then he started crying.

What happened to him that he came up to you?

I don’t know, I was just in a hallway and he walked up to me. I’m a pretty weird guy… I embrace being the person who you are, and if that’s who that person is, good for him, but there are some people in quiz bowl who wear paper hats. Like newspaper hats.

What does that hat do for them?

I have no idea. If that’s your thing, like, do it, but… that was quiz bowl, man. I was always like, “Let’s have fun and try to win, but if we don’t win, it’s just quiz bowl.” That’s a big thing I did in high school, that and classical guitar.

So, you’re from Chicago. What’s that like? 

I am from Chicago, greatest city in the world. Oh, I see that face. Here’s how my interactions have gone with a lot of people from New York [like you]. They say, “Hi, where are you from?” I say, “Hi, I’m from Chicago.” [They say,] “Oh, you’re from Chicago.” [I say,] “Yeah, is there a problem?” [They say,] “Our pizza’s better.” I didn’t say anything about pizza, right?

But you were thinking it. 

No! I wasn’t thinking about it really. I was just having a conversation. I feel like people from New York get really competitive about this pizza thing. To me it’s kind of, “Oh, pizza.” I don’t have much at stake in my pizza, but I guess you New Yorkers do… The weird thing is the number of times this has happened to me. I want to stipulate to The Record that I have no pizza preference. I love my city, and that doesn’t depend on whether or not deep-dish pizza is good.

 

What’s your major?

Math and poly sci. I don’t actually know how many math/poly sci double majors there are.

What’s your number one?

No comment. I love both of them. I happen to be writing a political theory thesis.

Have you been to Washington, D.C.?

Wait, have I told you this story? So last year on ultimate spring break, I’m driving down to North Carolina and I was in a car with three other people. It was maybe two or three in the morning. We’re driving past D.C., and I see the Capitol Building. I turn to my friend and ask, “Do you want to go check out Washington D.C.?” How many times do you get to tour D.C. at three in the morning? So we just started walking around D.C. I got to meet a G.W. law student named Rafael who was standing outside the White House at 4:30 a.m. He said that after a night of barhopping, he likes to come out and stare at the White House. And I think, “There’s like a 5 percent chance he becomes president one day.” I could see that look of longing in Rafael’s face.

Where are you planning on living after graduation?

Boston, I’m very excited to go to Boston next year.

That’s also a very inspiring city.

Yeah, there was also a Model Congress competition there.

What did you like about Boston?

I, uh, went on the Freedom trail tour. Because I was a poly sci nerd even then.

I hear you’ve had some interesting interactions with telemarketers.

When I get calls from telemarketers, I try to topsy-turvy it on them. They’ll say, “Hi, I’m wondering if you’re interested in a subscription to Time magazine.” And I’ll say something like, “Hi, I called you to see if you’d be interested in buying a subscription to Newsweek,” and then I’ll try to sell them a subscription to Newsweek. Usually they’re not telemarketers, they’re scammers. Someone called me saying they were from the IRS and I did some tax fraud or something. PSA: The IRS will never contact you via phone so don’t fall for that scam. I just started asking them questions about what it was like to work for the IRS and they didn’t really know what to do.

Do you have any other good stories in that vein?

So, I used to be an asshole. I had a voicemail message for, like, a year. I hate past me for doing this. It was like, “Hello?” Wait ten seconds, “Yeah I’m doing great, how are you?” Wait a little longer, then, “Just kidding, this is a voicemail message.” Which you know, being an asshole, I thought was funny.

It’s kind of funny.

I thought it was funny until I lost my phone. And what do you do when you lose your phone? You call it. So I call my phone, and I hear someone say, “Hello?” I say, “Why do you have my phone?” They say, “I’m doing great, how are you?” And I’m like, “Dammit, tricked by my own phone.”

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