An Expert’s Guide to Eating Alone in Sharples

There’s a magical hour every day when Sharples is almost empty, but still serving food. During this time, a small group of upperclassmen appears, each individually laying claim to a coveted date or circle table. They know each other, but they only rarely say hi. They choose their side of the table carefully so that they don’t have to look at each other as they dissect their grapefruits. This strange act is called “eating alone” — and it’s wonderful.

The beauty of being alone in Sharples is, of course, that you’re not actually alone. There are people to watch or greet if you’re so inclined, and the comforts of coffee and tea are readily available. The bright, open space is a welcome venue for reflection and daydreaming, compared to the bleak, often anxiety-inducing dorm room setting. With a little low-key music in your headphones, would-be wallowing is transformed into a mix of melancholy and bemusement. Also, sometimes you get to see somebody trip or drop something.

 

But if you’re an underclassman — especially a first-semester freshman — heading to the dining hall can be intimidating. Sure, you’d love to have the confidence to just sit down somewhere and stare off into space emotionlessly as hundreds of your peers look on. But for those of you who aren’t quite there yet, it’s okay: we broke down how to handle it when you don’t have (or want) any friends. Trust us: stepping up to the challenge will be way better than that Clif Bar you bought in Sci Commons yesterday.

The trick to eating alone without feeling like a loser or being approached by well-meaning classmates is often the timing. The subtle influx of students, determined by class and team schedules, creates a regular flow. To get the most out of your alone-time, you should plan accordingly.

 

Best Quiet Times

Perks / Warnings

Breakfast

after the early birds leave for 8:30 class until the lunch rush at 11:20

Perks: Sunshine through windows, grapefruits and melon, sometimes donuts

Warnings: no hot food until 10:30

Lunch

the tail end of breakfast, or after about 1:15

Warnings: People are most likely to try to come talk to you during this window

Dinner

grandma-style at 4:30, or between 6:45 and 7:15, before the in-season athletes arrive

Perks: Get there early for your best chance of snagging a booth.

Warnings: You may have to sit uncomfortably close to other people.

 

Once you’ve selected your time frame, it’s time to choose your seat. For fans of the Big Room, the most coveted spots are the sunlit date tables or the circle tables, which offer optimal people watching as fellow students come in and out of the dining hall. In the side rooms, the booths offer the most privacy.

Another crucial factor here is making sure you’re not awkwardly face to face with someone at another table. Take, for instance, our breakfast seniors: they all sit on the same side at their date tables, facing the same direction. That way, there’s no risk that they’ll have to spend a potentially hours-long Sharples session trying not to make eye contact with someone as they bite into their bagel.

The final step? Take out some fake work. If your reason for eating alone is because you couldn’t manage to find someone to eat with, taking out work will help you avoid any unwanted attention for flying solo. If you’re one of the confident few who actually wants to be left alone, an open book almost always gets across the hint. Don’t worry, though — you don’t actually have to read it.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *