I get out of Russian 111 at 11:50 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. This puts me squarely in lunch time — really in the thick of it. Thick is indeed the word to describe the capacity of our free-for-all dining facilities on campus, and a free-for-all it is.
I’m talking more about the Student Union than the Rebel Market, whose overall atmosphere is comparable to that of a secondary education cafeteria, with its not-high-quality but not-necessarily-bad food and its single-file lines leading to food items and disposal bins. The inhabitants of the market’s lines tend to move along at a relative trot compared to those at the Student Union. This is because of the sheer immensity of the lines in the union and the need for the food to be served to students per order, as opposed to the buffet style of the market. The union’s lines are in perfect juxtaposition with the temporal experience of waiting in line. Whereas the spatial aspects of the lines are long and winding, the time given for a student to wait in line, masticate and get to class is a short, straight line.
This dissonant experience between time and space felt by those in the Student Union is often a part of the human experience. Time and space are intimately related, and the stagnation of the physical location we, at that time, inhabit can greatly affect our perception of it. Our articulation of our perception of time with words that relate to our spatially focused existence proves how closely related the two are, at least in part. For example, I described time as “a short, straight line” at the end of the last paragraph.
If you have ever seen a movie set on the West Coast of the U.S., then surely you have seen at least one shot of criss-crossing highways, looping and intersecting above and below each other in a burning heap of asphalt and vehicles. Imagine these roads from a top-down perspective, then take away their verticality. Imagine all the roads crossing through each other — that’s how the union’s lines look. The back-middle inhabitants of Chick-fil-A’s line become fast friends with those waiting for their Which Wich sandwiches. Those in the middle of Chick-fil-A’s — those who have devoted too much time already to leave and go somewhere else — intersect with the end of Panda Express’ line, cross-scaring all newcomers away to greener, more agoraphobe-friendly pastures.
I would encourage any student, probably a fellow freshman who has not already figured this out, to just go to the Market for lunch. Instead of having food from the union every day, you can try out the smorgasbord open to all with the simple swipe of your student ID. Sure, the food is not that great, but what are you going to do about it? The lines are shorter, at least. Your Plus 1 is best used at dinner, a time which sees the union’s lines not nearly as long and coiled about the whole building like a bloated python.
Logan Scott is a freshman majoring in film production from Madison.