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'Hey, can you watch my stuff?'

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AUGUST 10, 2016

We’ve all been there. You’re studying for your midterm in the library and, after drinking two large Peet’s coffees and an iced tea from Caffe Strada, you realize that your studies will have to be abruptly interrupted by a quick bathroom break. After avoiding the urge for a good seven minutes, you come to terms with the idea that your quickly approaching rendezvous with the bathroom is inevitable. After a good two minutes of wondering whether you should pack up all your stuff or take a risk and just ditch it, you finally gaze around the room and look for a friendly face. After you muster up the courage to kindly grab this person’s attention, you ask, “Hey, can you watch my stuff?”

Whether you’re the person requesting that your belongings be watched or whether you’re watching over someone else’s belongings, there are always a few things that cross our minds here at the Clog.

The “What if?” situations

For one, what would you actually do to physically stop someone from taking someone else’s stuff? Half the time someone asks you to watch their stuff, you’re a few seats or tables away. If someone came in, snagged their laptop and booked it, what would you really do? To be honest, it’s highly doubtful that you would physically fight them, let alone a get up and run after them.

On guard

Another thing we wonder is, how intensely do you have to watch the stuff? How many times is it acceptable to look up and check that their belongings are still, in fact, there. There’s always this underlying sense of guilt and anxiety surrounding the immense responsibility that you have been hand selected to carry out, and it somehow distracts from the learning process.

The kind nod

There’s always that awkward acknowledgement you give each other when they (or you) come back from wherever they went. It’s somewhat a nod or halfway smile that signals that they appreciate your “protection.” It’s kind of a “thank you” to the person for keeping an eye out for you but also stems from a deep sigh of relief that all of your belongings are still sitting there. It seems that the person who was watching your stuff points their eyes (conveniently) to your belongings as you are walking in, creating the illusion that they have been watching it promptly the entire time.

Our conclusions

Honestly, the concept of asking a stranger to watch your stuff while you run to the bathroom (or wherever it may be that you need to go) is very strange. Does anyone else realize that we ask strangers to protect our stuff from other strangers? Seriously, who’s to say that the stranger watching our stuff isn’t going to get up and take your brand new Macbook Air and extremely overpriced headphones. But it really says something about humanity, more specifically students at UC Berkeley. It seems that at the end of the day, peers at UC Berkeley surprisingly trust each other, despite the constant UCPD advisory messages we get on our bMails.

We at the Clog see this strange and extremely illogical code of ethics as sweet. Even while living in a society that encourages the distrust of those around us, there’s still a strand of hope that tells us that humans are inherently good and are to be trusted. Therefore, we endow our trust onto others and hope we don’t return to an empty desk. Either that or we really have to pee and don’t want to leave the valuable spot near the outlet.

Contact Allison David at [email protected].

AUGUST 10, 2016