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Thursday, July 29, 2021

The UCD Files: The Coffee House Paradox

marxheadshot_opYou’re a UC Davis student, tired and hungry, so spoiled by the ridiculously close proximity of your dorm or apartment to campus that it’s actually become far. So you’re not going to go on a five-minute bike ride to your room. You don’t want your cup of noodles or some microwavable mac and cheese you bought five months ago on your first and probably last trip to Target (because that is also just way too far now). You’re not going to eat downtown because you don’t make money. You’re not going to cook because you don’t cook.

So you’re going to go to the Coffee House, of course. Your true purpose of being there is to get something to eat between Psych 1 and that other class you take, and maybe say hello to that person you might have met one time at a party or class or anywhere or nowhere. You thought this hour break was a good idea during registration, not sure if you wanted to sit through two hours of class. For the first 12 years of your education you had seven hours of class five days a week, but that’s long in the past.

Now here comes the classic first part of the Coffee House paradox: You don’t know anyone at the CoHo right now. You are holding your Tex Mex burrito, walking from one end to the other, looking for someone who will not be too awkward to approach, but you can’t find anyone. Now you’ve reached the Wellman side, and you know what that means: You’re completely and utterly alone.

So you have some options here, many of which are based on how you want to appear to the people at the CoHo. However, this is vain and stupid, because you’ve already established that they’re all complete strangers to you. You can either double back and make the walk of shame, though it’s definitely not as shameful because you’re pretending to text or checking Instagram with the hand not holding your still uneaten burrito. Or you can act like you just remembered something, and take a quick step backwards and speedwalk to the other side like you meant to do it. This is my personal favorite — just make sure you are convincing.

Here are some more solutions to problem 1:

  1. Bring your food outside to the tables, there are plenty of people who want to talk to you (and get you to join CALPIRG)
  2. Sit on the Quad pretending to be earthy and not upset that you’re alone. Definitely not.
  3. Go up to one of those people who take a whole six-seater bench to themselves
  4. Sit with a table of older, professor-looking people. They might be professors and your parents will be proud.
  5. Sit by yourself, because you are I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T (do you know what that means)?

Now, the second part of this Coffee House paradox: You’re still the same UC Davis student, but on top of that, you have a midterm in two hours. You may be the type of person who’s already studied for a week, or the type of person who is about to open your notes for the first time. Either way, you’re pretty sure you are not ready. So you make the same lap around the Coffee House, this time just searching for an open seat with an outlet (yeah, right), but don’t worry now, no one is judging you because you have to study. If they were judging you, then it would already be too late, because you likely haven’t showered in a while and are what society would call gross. If you aren’t, and are really dressed up and looking good, then I am judging you.

So finally, you find this seat, you throw on your movie soundtrack Pandora and get to work. You are in the zone, starting to get more confident, and you feel a tap on your shoulder. Who is it? None other than that friend you were looking for last week when you wanted to hangout. Not just one of them, though, all of those friends you were sure you didn’t even have are here now! They just did that CoHo lap you were doing last week, but they had much more luck and found you! So this happens 10 times in the next hour and a half and your productivity is low. It’s funny how those noise-cancelling headphones you got at the same Target trip aren’t very effective when you have to keep taking them off.

So now you have 30 minutes left, and you put this real stressed out look on your face, either because you want people to see your struggle and leave you alone, or because that’s just how people’s faces look 30 minutes before a test. At this point, however, it’s too late, because it’s some kind of lunch rush at the CoHo and you really just can’t help but people-watch. You wish people-watching was your major because you look up literally every time anyone anywhere near you makes any movement. At this point, it is far too late, and you have to go to class with minimal knowledge and pray for a low curve. Good news for you, the curve will definitely be low, because you are not the only tired and hungry UC Davis student.

Places to avoid problem 2:

  1. The library, duh
  2. The fireplace room in the MU: there’s a fireplace
  3. The SCC: they have whiteboards and coffee and outlets and hope
  4. The Quad: relaxing, and you may get a good Snapchat out of it
  5. Your own room: I know your desk currently makes you a candidate for “Hoarders” but throw that stuff away

The UCD Files is your weekly in depth look at our campus and the lifestyle that comes with it, featuring an occasional dropping of knowledge from a senior who has experienced it all.

Feel Free to send questions, comments, or anything you would like to see in future articles to ADAM MARX at almarx@ucdavis.edu.

Graphic by CA Aggie Graphic Design Team

Photo by CA Aggie Photo Team

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