‘Always fresh’ they say… but what does that really mean?
By Rebecca Peterson, Humour Editor
Your professor looks at the clock. He realizes you’ve been in class for approximately 20 years.
“Alright class, five-minute break,” he says.
You have options in this moment. You can go pee like you’ve needed to do since the late ’90s. You can call your loved ones and assure them you’re still alive. You can look up memes to send to the group chat. You can sit in a small dark corner of the school and fantasize about being the kind of person who has a group chat like all the cool kids seem to have. (When will I ever know the bright warmth and light of friendship?)
You can also, if you dare, try for the Tim Hortons.
What the hell, you’re feeling a little adventurous and more than a little hungry, you decide to make a run for it. Surely you can make it there and back for when class starts up again.
(You’re lying to yourself. You know this. We know this. And yet we dance this merry waltz of deception to our inevitable end.)
It’s only after you sprint down flights of stairs and through large open spaces that remind you of nightmares you’ve had about being stranded on the cold heartless plains of Saskatchewan (you’ve never been, but you feel like you know enough about Saskatchewan to dream about it with relative accuracy) that you look towards the Tim Hortons and you see it.
You’ve seen something like this once; long ago when you studied the Great Depression, there were grainy black and white photos depicting masses of humanity queueing with exhausted patience for bread and water. This is basically the same thing. It curls like a bloated snake into the territory marked out by the Triple O’s and the stir fry place. The line is impressive, and it’s at this point that you have another choice to make.
Quoth The Clash: “Should I stay, or should I go now?”
It’s too late to do anything else with this finite amount of time accorded to you by your benevolent academic overlord—too late to pee, too late to call loved ones, too late to contact the group chat, too late to cry about your lack of a group chat. You decide to wait.
You make it to the front of the line.
You think they’re calling you forward to a till but they aren’t, the attendant has left the register to make coffee so you’re standing at the empty till like a goddamn idiot. You wither.
Then it is your turn, and you’re forced to play an insidious game of Russian Roulette as you run through your usual order knowing that the Tim Hortons is always out of something. What will it be today? No yogurt for the smoothies? A broken French vanilla machine? Dear God, let the curse not affect the iced capps or you will surely lose the will to live.
You swallow hard. You ask, “Can I have a vanilla iced capp?”
“We don’t have vanilla,” the coffee warden replies.
“But the iced capp machine is working?”
There is a God. You order the iced capp.
(You don’t watch them make the iced capp. The world is far too hard and cruel and cynical these days, and that kind of disillusionment might well tip you past your breaking point. All you know is brown sludge is thrown in, but something beautiful comes out. It feels like a metaphor. For what, you cannot say. But it certainly makes you feel.)
Eventually, after the twilight of recorded history has come and gone and you are left in the dismal endless twilight of intellectual oblivion, you receive your coffee (knowing that the true hardened coffee-drinker would scoff to hear you call an iced capp “coffee,” but man, fuck those guys).
You sip. For a moment, all is well.
Then you remember there is still a class to return to.
You run. You know it will make no difference. You know you are too old to be sprinting down school corridors. The people watching you know the “Run Forrest run!” joke is outdated, but don’t seem to care.
Finally, you return to your class, and find it empty. Empty, like the desolate reaches of your group chat-less messaging system. Class is over.
Your classmates have graduated.
Your professor has retired. There was a party. Cake was involved. You’re sure it was great.
You sip your iced capp, and you’re forced to ask yourself… was it worth it?