I feel like everybody complains about the place where they take the bar exam, and everybody is right. It’s like that line in Office Space where Ron Livingston says that every day is worse than the last, so every day is the worst day of his life. Every test center is the worst test center in the country because that’s the test center you are in, or if you are lucky, that’s the test center you were in that one time.
Sure, we’ve done stories about people who have taken the bar in a barn, and I imagine that taking the bar in an earthquake zone is pretty terrible, but for me, the worst test center is the Jacob Javits Convention Center on the West Side of Manhattan.
It’s cold even when it’s hot outside, it’s ugly, and it’s cavernous. It leaks. It’s just an altogether horrible place to spend two days taking the most important test of your life.
And there’s no food [cue Walrus music]. But at least that is about to get better…
Lunchtime during the two days of the New York Bar Exam is a nightmare. In Albany, you can at least get dead cat. But in Manhattan, there are like two places to get food that most people know about in comfortable walking distance from the massive complex: a McDonald’s and a Subway (side note: New York has some of the worst “convention space” in the country. It’s like the entire city has decided “New York is for business, conventions are for golf.”) The lines at these places are massive.
Now… when I summered at Debevoise, I actually lived on the West Side near the convention center (I was trying to save money and befriend prostitutes). So I knew a couple of off the map (read: ethnic) places I could score a beef patty and get back to the testing center. But even that meant walking blocks and blocks in the beating hot sun, terrified of not getting back to the test in time, not looking out for traffic. It’s amazing that at least one hungry confused bar exam taker isn’t killed every year by a cabbie.
Anyway, those days appear to be over. Custom Gourmet is now offering pre-order sandwiches to New York Bar examinees. The link for the program is here. The promoters explain that you’ll be able to pick up your lunch right outside the exam room.
It’s $20 for a sandwich, drink, fruit, and chips. That’s affordable in this city. And I’m not sure anybody cares about the taste, because lunchtime during the bar involves tearing through notes, starting off into space, or weeping softly.
The point is, it’s a basic solution to address an asinine problem. It’s amazing that it took somebody until 2013 to figure out that there thousands of people in need of lunch for two days every summer with no reasonable options.
So, good luck Manhattan test takers. With your lunch sorted, you can focus on the other, horrible aspects of the test taking experience. Like how you’re taking the test in the bowels of something near an industrial river.