Combat Zone

The lunch rush: soul crushing? or filled with hope

Photo of students at the sub at 12:15 on a Monday. Photo credit: wikimedia commons

By Harry Gers

As late morning classes let out, the walkways of campus surge with life. Whether a student now enters a calming afternoon or a mad dash before their next class, all roads lead to the sub. Shuffling feet and overlapping chatter flow into the Diner, marking the noon lunch rush. In those precious few minutes in line for the chef’s table, we are all of one spirit. Athletes fresh from practice or chem majors eating before lab, there is a common goal. But as they step beyond the check-out, all solidarity is lost in the chaos. Upon the open field of the sub, territories are formed through unspoken understandings. The landscape must shift accordingly as the sports teams claim their rows of tables for the day. Small yet brave groups may set up camp near the fringes of the booming crowd, but those trained in caution know to find shelter on the outskirts. The coveted few tables along the windows are snagged only by the earliest of birds.

  On a rare day, a lone wanderer may even run the greatest gamble: the piano. Invoking the power of the keys risks the scornful gaze of hundreds of peers, but is it worth the glory of the applause offered to the chosen one who can play the Minecraft soundtrack? For that can only be known by those who try, whether from bravery or delusion.

  The watchful gaze of the balcony lies above. Those with the strength to climb the stairs reap the reward — pride rock— a view fit only for lions observing the sheep below. They have power to drop anything on the heads of the unaware masses that pass under — immense power free for the taking but somehow never wielded for destruction. Meanwhile, the booths behind are reserved for either joyous celebration or focused study. With laptops open, homework is chipped away at, piece by piece. 

  Behind the bountiful lands of the balcony, meetings are held in the depths. The great doors of Upper Marshall open only by strange cosmic forces. Many days they welcome in all who seek refuge; other days they lie shut, hiding some dark congregation. The “reserved for event” sign displays a solemn warning, pushing the weary refugees back into the unforgiving noise of the main hall. Cast out of their haven, they will not find solace in these blasted lands.

While the interior of the sub is an ecosystem with little room for jolly revels, there is hope yet. With the grace of Washington weather patterns, the slab brings out the best in the campus. As friend groups laugh in the sun to music from the KUPS booth and small children ride their razor scooters while being gassed up by all, perhaps the human spirit can blossom even in the lunch rush.