A North Quad State of Nature
Please bear with me if you don’t know what I’m talking about, but if my predications are correct, there’s a huge chance you’re about to groan and think, She’s right: rush hour at North Quad is very much representative of Hobbes’ state of nature.
We’ve all been there: 1p.m. or 5p.m. (or at both times) on any given day, inside of that new, large dining room. The lighting creates a warm ambiance, encouraging new relationships to be formed and the fostering of old ones. The food is what I like to consider “gourmet dining hall food.” And the best part? It’s served on clean, classy dishes that aren’t exactly large enough to fill you up, but they’re perfect for stacking so you can go back and get serving after serving (most of the time without feeling guilty!). The people working are always friendly and accommodating, especially if you have a friend who always insists on making special orders at each of the pick-up stops. And for some reason, the cookies always seem to be so much warmer in North Quad, too. Well, I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of campus.
So you must be asking yourself, if this building is so special and its food so phenomenal, why would Hobbes consider its meal time a state of nature? Well, you see, I’m not the only freshman to have expressed my love for North Quad- in fact; many of the students that actually live in North Quadrangle are upperclassman who are downright annoyed at the feeding frenzy at the above-mentioned times (mostly because of us annoying freshman). And that’s exactly what it is: a frenzy. A downright battle- every man for himself. Students come from all campuses, all walks of the Diag, and from any given class in order to get a table. You see, it’s not a matter of will you get a meal or not- you inevitably will. North Quad stays on top of its game and generally serves whoever it can, as soon as they can. But it’s more a matter of whether or not you and your friend(s) will get a seat. If your best friend doesn’t leave class 10 minutes early to save a table, good luck. There’s hardly ever an open table. And a pair of seats not being used is even hard to come by during rush hour! It really is every man for himself. I can personally testify that I have seen people eating on the ground before, tray on their lap, friend by their side…no open seat in sight…
Just think about it: Hoobes would agree! Everyone there is serving their own interests: their hunger. Or need for social interaction (once you become a regular, everyone at rush hour becomes a familiar face). Everyone is a little vain in this regard, because everyone thinks it’s their dinner they’re eating and that they should have a table waiting for them when they get there. The others? Let them sit on the floor- for now, I need this seat. But at the same time, you tend to fear the others. When you walk in and actually think you have a shot at the bar stools off to your left, you notice a few coats scattered there but no attendant. Do you take the seats and act innocent when the occupants come back? What would they do? Or if you’re flying solo, and notice the one loan seat being kept warm by a backpack in the middle tables, is that seat being saved? Or is it that it is open, they would just rather not have a stranger eavesdrop in on their conversation? Do you care? Because this tray is getting heavy and your patience is waning. Should you ask them? And of course there’s the issue property of regularly wanting what we can’t have: everyone always wants those circle tables when they come in with a big group, but when it’s obviously in use, we get jealous and sometimes maybe even a little bit frustrated….Are you beginning to see the connection?
Perhaps you still don’t believe me, perhaps you don’t agree. Maybe you look at this dining hall and think of Rousseau over other philosophers: you see teamwork. When you’re a regular at North Quad, all that means is that you realized early on that you absolutely must ban together to survive. If not, what, are you supposed to show up at rush hour and simply stumble upon a table? It doesn’t happen like that, as much as we all wish it did. If you get rid of all of those icky, psychological forces that could severely hurt your place in the food chain, like pride or simple self-love, you’ll have no problem creating a system within your group that works and that eventually becomes an efficient way to spend your time at North Quad.
So which is it? If you happen to stumble upon North Quad at 5p.m. any given day of the week, keep in mind these two theories. Will you see an animalistic in nature feeding time? Or will you chose to see teamwork, groups of people who have come together to share a meal?