Thursday night. A desperate time in the Lamont Café.

I had entered the Café with the express desire to escape the faint, but distinct smell of unwashed bodies that wafted from the first floor study room. There the semi-silence had been too oppressive, but in the café—I had figured—the buzz of conversation and the making of caramel-macchiatos would lull me into a fit of focus.

The instant I stepped into the Café it was apparent: An Ec10 p-set was due the next day, and the place was practically overrun. Groups of potential Econ concentrators milled about laptops open discussing the finer points of supply and demand and whatever else someone studying Econ would talk about. From the not-so-faint mutterings and cursing, it sounded as if Mankiw had created an especially difficult problem two on the p-set. Aside from the occasional outburst, the mood was almost jubilant, almost. There was laughter and I saw more than one croissant being split among friends. The time was eleven o’clock.

By 1 a.m., this feeling had died.

The semi-overachieving students had long since left the Café, having finished their p-sets. They had been replaced by the more desperate breed of scholars. These students had not even looked at the Ec p-set or simply had no clue what they were doing. Their small talk in between problems was decidedly less academic than the previous waves of students. “I would make a great trophy husband,” one insisted. “Or wife,” he added to an outburst of snorts from his group. The topic at another table was also on the subject of significant others. “I just want a boyfriend who will come give me a hug when I text him that my p-set is hard,” one girl whined. “No one will ever do that,” one of her friends assured her.

At 1:55 a.m., when the Café itself was about to close, there was a stampede to purchase the last of the night’s caffeine. Cries of “Hurry!” and “Quickly!” rang throughout the entire space as a line quickly formed. With the last coffee for the night in everyone’s hand, the mood in the Café dropped as people realized, once again, that they should have started their p-set before Friday morning.

When the faint sobbing began at 2:15 a.m., I decided that my time had come. I took my leave of the Café. The book check out of Lamont took a whole 30 seconds.

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