Open hands, open minds

The Millennial Meltdown

Today, like every other nonweekend day, was awful. When you woke up, every cell in your body begged you to stay home, heat up a plate of Foster Farms dinosaur chicken nuggets, close all the blinds in your apartment and rewatch the second season of Prison Break, but no. You have to search your apartment for the least wrinkled pair of sweatpants you can find, stuff your sleep-mangled hair into a snapback and go to your 9:30 a.m. lecture.

By 9:25 a.m., you’ve finally found your backpack — which you are 85 percent sure is a living creature that hides itself when you’re sleeping at night — and are ready to fast-walk to class. Just kidding. You stopped fast-walking in seventh grade, and why expend the energy? Energy is valuable and in short supply. Between negotiating all seven of your iPhone alarms and corresponding snooze periods and making that Easy Mac for breakfast, you barely have enough energy to make ends meet, so you’ll be normal-walking, or maybe even slow-walking, to class, thank you very much.

Unfortunately for you, brushing your teeth and shaving at the same time this morning was NOT your greatest challenge of the day. As you start to walk through Sproul, fear grips your heart. Your pulse quickens, your forehead starts to sweat and you realize that the god to whom you’d been praying when your loved ones were ill and when Don Draper was making poor life decisions has failed you. Abandoned you. Left you to fend for yourself in navigating the Cambodian mine field that is Sproul fliering.

Any other issue, any other place, you’re the king of this campus and everyone knows it; but here, all your confidence and swagger drain away faster than you can say a cappella. Why must there be so many different colors of paper? How do they coordinate their fliering positions so that avoiding one of them sends you straight into the feeding grounds of another? And for the love of poor, besotted, infant Jesus, WHAT IS CALPIRG AND WHY ARE THEY MORE POWERFUL THAN OPRAH AND HILLARY CLINTON COMBINED!? WE’RE TALKING ABOUT CLINPRAH HERE!!!

So let’s pause for a moment. The most important “why” of all, actually, (besides the obvious: Why is Clinprah not a real person, and how do we make it a real person?) is why all these emotions and questions come flooding into our consciousness the second we are in spitting distance of Sather Gate. Is it not every UC Berkeley student’s right and privilege to be asked five separate times on their way to class if they are interested in business or Christianity or the Christian business club? Is your day actually ruined if your path is momentarily inhibited by an exhausted-looking Asian girl advertising the Chinese prelaw fraternity with a rain-soaked leaflet? And is it not, in some small way or another, this veritable obstacle course stationed at the entrance to campus that makes UC Berkeley kind of what it is?

You came to UC Berkeley because you wanted to experience the world’s flagship university for activism, political enfranchisement, individual voice and identity and freedom of expression, right? LOL, no. You came here because you got in-state tuition or because you got rejected from Dartmouth, but UC Berkeley is still pretty great. And while Haight-Ashbury may be tucked away comfortably in Berkeley’s 60s heritage, the legacy of that period of history is, in a lot of ways, preserved on Sproul.

An early-morning struggle is something that even second graders or UC Davis students can relate to. And we all, by and large, resent everything and everyone that has the balls to be cheerful or even mildly extroverted at 9:30 a.m. What distinguishes our early-morning shitshow from everyone else’s early-morning shitshows is that we have the opportunity to pretend to be open-minded and cultured and stuff for a minute while we’re walking to class. Every morning. Did I mention we don’t have to stop walking? Hella multitasking, yo.

So what I’m saying is that Sproul fliers are not your enemy. Nor are the courageous young men and women pushing them on you like crack dealers behind a Red Robin. Your real enemy is your iPhone alarm, but of course we’ve already been over that. And once that asshole has been neutralized, and you’re out in that crisp, unforgiving Berkeley morning air, leave your baggage on Telegraph. Even if you have earphones in and a Cappuccino in your left hand, and even if you’re too hungover to have an open mind, keeping that right hand open and available for a flier or two is definitely the next best thing.

Jacob Leonard writes the Thursday blog on coming-of-age issues. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @leonardjp.