No matter the meal plan, students at Lawrence flock to the café in great numbers every day of every week. A place for studying, snacking, meeting or just hanging out, the café is the place to go. The air is filled with a kind of energy that no other place on campus has—the smells of bagels and bacon, the crinkling of bags of tater tots and the sloshing of smoothies, the great long lines of tired people after class, maybe even a professor or two trying to remember the names of the students that pass them and say hello. Picture it.
Pure, unadulterated Lawrence magic. But what’s that? What’s that noise the cuts through the laughter and the bad radio music and the “Thank you, have a good day” said in thick Wisconsin accents? The unmistakable squeaking of chairs. You know exactly what I mean. Lawrence’s café chairs seem innocent enough—nice wood backs, comfortable to sit in, sturdy, etc. Don’t be fooled. Engrained in all of our ears and hearts, it seems, is this sound. Perhaps a strange kind of hazing ritual, these common-seeming café chairs cause regular, predictable pain. Have you ever tried to scoot one back while holding a basket of fries and a burning hot coffee? Good luck to you. Sitting down for a lunch date? You better hope your crush has a sense of humor, because the second you get up the metal will screech, the chair stutter and you will run away wincing. God forbid it is 8:30 in the morning and you are woken up by the sound of metal on slate. Let me ask you: what’s the worst way to make a first impression? Trip over chairs on your way to a table. Spill your food all over yourself. Fall off of the stools at the counter and proceed to stumble over your backpack.
Have you ever felt that kind of second-hand embarrassment that makes you cringe? It is my opinion that this particular kind of second-hand embarrassment is an epidemic at Lawrence’s café. I have sat in those hellish chairs, eating my cheese curds and seen so many people trip, fall, stagger, blunder and struggle. You get the picture. It’s a bad one. I now try to follow this self-made rule: don’t make eye contact if someone is grappling with these hellish chairs. It can only end badly for you both.
Perhaps you think this description is dramatic—don’t trust me, go see for yourself. Go to the café and experiment, observe and learn to hate these pieces of furniture just as I do.
I believe that the secret meaning of the “Lawrence Difference” is “chairs that ruin all chance of suavity and grace.” Amidst the never ending clamor and buzz, stubborn chairs and tripping students is the last thing our café needs. The piercing scream of metal against stone will echo through my mind and others’ for eternity, but this does not have to be the way we live our lives.
As Lawrentians, let’s band together and turn to the material that never lets anyone down: felt. This fuzzy, beautiful fabric brings happiness to any home, business or restaurant it graces. Let’s do it for the most awkward group on campus: “Felt for Freshmen.” Let’s save the first impression. Together, we can bring peace and quiet to the café—16 felt furniture pads cost $3.27 on Amazon.