Brown can be a self-selective place. If you’re a freshman, you’re probably hanging out in Keeney or on Pembroke. If you’re involved in Greek Life you can be found on Wriston, if you’re an athlete or an otherwise ~athletic~ person you’ll often be in the Nelson, and if you’re a senior who’s like “so done with college” you probably can’t be found because you’re holed up in your off-campus apartment.
Even the most popular spots on campus are self-selective. The Ratty is made up of mostly underclassmen, the Blue Room is full of people willing to spend too much money on a breakfast sandwich (me), the Sci Li is full of sciencey people and the Rock is flooded with Humanities kids (also me).
There is one, and only one, place on campus that is a total intersection of everyone who attends this fine university. It is mystical and unique, and there is no other place quite like it.
Presenting: The Mailroom.
Everyone gets mail (shout out to moms and Amazon!) so everyone must go to the mailroom. I moved off campus this year, and I still use the mailroom because of the sheer familiarity of really bad music, extremely long lines, and most importantly, the convenience of being able to “forget” to pick up your package for several days with the knowledge that it’s being held safely in your campus box.
On a side note, has anyone ever seen these elusive campus mailboxes?? How do we know we really each have our own mailbox? Mine is 8720 (subtle call to send me ~fan mail~ guys) but how can I know if it even exists if I’ve never seen it?! Seeing is believing, as they say.
Anyway! Going to the mailroom is a multi-step process. The most exciting part, (in mine and everyone else’s opinion), is the ID swipe before you enter the mailroom, in which a v modern and cool screen informs you of how many packages you have to pick up. After you swipe, you can press “pick up now” and then enter the main room.
However! There are two catches here. One is that there is another v modern and cool screen inside the mailroom, which performs exactly the same operation, yet people seem to be unaware of its existence, causing the line for the first machine to be longer than necessary.
Second, is the underrated devastation of swiping your ID only to find out that you have “no packages at this time,” and the following sense of despair you feel as you walk out of JWW instead of through the mailroom doors.
Assuming you do in fact have a package, you make your way into the mailroom. You join the other couple dozen students in the room who are standing silently, facing towards the front desk, and waiting for their names to be called. During this time, you jealously watch other students who arrived before you receive their packages, while simultaneously listening to the worst playlist you’ve ever heard (we’re talking Taylor Swift circa 2011).
And also during this time, you can’t help but observe the students that surround you. Last weekend you and your friend complained (for the umpteenth time) that this school is too small and you know like everyone. Looking around the mailroom, however, you feel the exact opposite way. How do you know zero out of the 30 or 40 people standing here? Who are they? Where did they come from? Where have they been hiding? Is it possible that ~gasp~ you only think you know a lot of people, when in reality there are literally hundreds of students at this school you have never met? Has the mailroom – the one and only true intersection of students on campus – caused you to have an identity crisis and question everything and everyone you have ever known???
The true magic of the mailroom lies in this moment: each one of these students takes different classes, are part of different organizations, have different concentrations, come from different cities –and yet: we all use the same mailroom. Guys, if this isn’t beauty I don’t know what is.