Daily life at Tresidder Union

Feb. 5, 2010, 12:31 a.m.
Daily life at Tresidder Union
CONNOR LANMAN/The Stanford Daily

It’s noon and a swarm of bikers frantically rushes in one general direction–toward the candy cane pattern of red chairs and white tables outside Tresidder Union.

Between the stairs and the entrance to the building, five girlfriends sit comfortably in each other’s familiar presence. From the side, a shadow creeps up behind one of the girls, and a pair of arms suddenly wraps itself around her shoulders.

“Holy shit! That scared me so much!” Startled, the girl hovers her palm over her chest, her other hand clutching a cup of yogurt.

The friend who surprised her laughs and launches into a story about a recent party.

“He and I were trying to dance, and then there were people creeping around us and we’re like, ‘Go away! We’re trying to have fun by ourselves!’”

Nearby, others are also discussing last weekend.

“And then you wake up and you’re like, ‘Oh shit!’” the girl at the table next to them exclaims, her oval-shaped mouth enunciating each word to the boy sitting with her, who leans in attentively.

From freshmen to professors, the Stanford community has found an unlikely lunchtime sanctuary in Tresidder Union. Just inside, Subway, Fraiche and Peet’s Coffee mark out student territories in opposing corners. A familiar smell of roast-beef sandwiches, mixed with the grease and oil of chow mein and orange chicken, escape into the atmosphere.

A girl in brown leather boots and a turquoise dress licks her lips and orders her favorite treat–two of Fraiche’s addicting chocolate chip cookies.

Behind her, tables are filling up as customers receive their food orders, and disjointed bits of conversation faintly surface over the rustling crowd.

“I haven’t seen you around, have you been involved?” someone asks.

“No, just stressed out!” comes a reply.

Friends catch up for a brief moment or two amid the hustle and bustle of the food court. The brave bring their work, toiling with books and open laptops until a familiar face greets them and snaps them out of their state of preoccupation.

Struggling to be heard over the rising din, some customers resort to elaborate hand gestures. Across the bustling crowd, laughter weaves together the foreign with the known.

“Hi! How are you?” Two friends eagerly halt at the sight of one another, exchanging a belated hug.

“I haven’t seen you all of last quarter,” one of them remarks. Both are equally astonished by the truth behind that observation.

Off to the side, two girls sit at a table, engaged in the topic of love and relationships.

“You’re still not over him?” one friend asks the other.

The girl reluctantly admits, “No, not entirely, but at this point, if we got back together…” She draws her words out carefully, but her friend cuts her off.

“You’d be disillusioned.”

In another corner, a boy sits reading “Absalom Absalom” by William Faulkner, apple in hand, oblivious to the buzz around him. A blonde girl with a ponytail perches over a book, her yellow highlighter ready in hand.

One table down, someone exclaims, “Woah! This thing is biodegradable! That’s so cool!” She’s bursting with excitement over today’s remarkable revelation. “Let’s compost it!”

Ten feet away, another girl sits with her laptop, furiously typing away. A couple sits hand-in-hand, absorbed in each other’s presence.

In the middle of this scene, an elderly man in a green button-up shirt is present as an isolated yet observant reader. He sits immobile, seemingly engrossed in his book, quietly mumbling words from its pages. Occasionally, he takes a break from his reading and glances up at a passerby, observing the individual for a brief second before resuming his original state of concentration.

Toward the center of the room, a girl in a bright, purple shirt cloaked with a black cardigan sits pointing to her laptop screen.

“So, I Facebook stalked her and found this picture…” She peers up expectantly at her friend, her eyes crinkled at their corners with mischief.

In line for Subway, three friends stand among each other conversing, their hands silently tucked in their pockets.

“Man, Math 42 exam and then this!” one of the boys remarks. A minute later, something else is bothering him–“All you ever say is ‘Let’s celebrate! Let’s drink!’ and then we end up on top of a toilet bowl.” But he grins as the other two boys chuckle at the comment.

As lunch hour ends, the crowd trickles out of Tresidder. Conversations gradually end as students walk in the direction of their dorms or afternoon classes. Laughing, they exchange last glances and waves as they mount their bikes and move on with their days.

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