People Watching: Study Week at UWA


Words by: Kool_Uni_Chic

Come with me now on a journey through time and space. Understand the exam-induced unravelling of a collective student cohort through the microcosm that is an anonymous library at the University of Western Australia.

All names and identifiable features have been removed because no one is the best version of themselves during exams.

Monday 02/11/2015

9.46 am: All quiet on the western front. There is a conspicuous lack of people in the library; exam anxiety has clearly not set in yet. Maybe people are off filling their dexie prescriptions?

10.31 am: Friend 1: ‘how’s your study going?’ Friend 2: ‘Yeah good, just smashing out some classical music.’ Preach brother. Enhance that learning capability!

10.32 am: ‘Can you get me a Chai from Rocketfuel?’

1.09 pm: Looking around me I can see one 1 litre carton of Brownes Double Espresso, one empty Pressed Earth juice sitting next to what appears to be a bottle of Panadol, four Rocketfuel coffees of varying sizes, a slab of Cadbury chocolate (empty), and two Powerades. What happened to the no food or drink policy? Have all the rules just been thrown out the window? These are the codes we live and die by. I fear the whole world will fall into disorder with this exam period being the catalyst. I take this is a sign of what is to come over the week.

3.37 pm: An empty packet of chewing gum is sitting on the table below me. Strewn all over the table are remnants of silver plastic. Is this art?

Tuesday 03/11/15

9.38 am: I arrive at the library. I exit the lift on the fourth floor and walk past a table of three males. All have taken their shoes off.

10.32 am: Anonymous sitting close to me mutters under his breath to himself ‘you fucking cunt.’

10.49 am: The same Anonymous says confidently to himself ‘swag.’

2.47 pm: To my right a natter starts buzzing. I put my headphones in.

2.53 pm: The sound of their jovial ‘chit-chat’ has penetrated the barrier created by my headphones. It is at this exact moment that I realise I suffer from misophonia. I feel unnatural, burning hatred towards these people.

5.14pm: The same people to my right are now sharing rice cakes – the most inappropriate of all library foods.

5.45 pm: I just awoke from a nap on my desk. Looking around at my library cohabitants I wonder if anyone was watching me… has the watcher become the watched?

Wednesday 04/11/2015

9.46 am: A guy strolls across the library holding a wad of paper in his hand. There are bags under his eyes and his pupils are darting wildly. As he crosses my path we catch each other’s gaze. He knows I see him – truly see him, know him. I know he didn’t sleep last night. He knows I know he didn’t sleep last night. It is an unspoken and natural exchange we share, if but for a moment.

10.45 am: My tired friend from earlier has not returned. I now presume him dead, expired in front of the assignment submission box. In due time rigor mortis will ensure that no one can pry the assignment from his iron fist; the two will fuse in an eternal bond for evermore.

10.47 am: I spoke too soon. My friend has returned, smiling, jumbo coffee in hand. He lives. Equal parts relief and surprise wash over me.

2.15 pm: A guy sits down to my right, opens his laptop, gets up a Word document, then puts his head down on his desk and falls asleep.

2.32 pm: The same guy awakens, packs up, and leaves the library. It appeared to be a good day’s work.

3.32 pm: The elevator dings and an anonymous student comes charging out. I question to myself why they are in such a hurry but brush the idle hypotheses out of my mind and step in. Immediately the stench overwhelms me. C’mon, elevator farts?

4.45 pm: My boyfriend informs me that the boy’s toilets are in their bi-annual state of disarray. I don’t understand and ask for elaboration. Apparently dexies and coffee are a potent combination, often resulting in people shitting themselves. Apparently guys aren’t good at aiming either, especially when they’re in a hurry.

Thursday 05/11/2015

9.21 am: I feel uneasy that I have already seen two Louis Vuitton handbags being used as study satchels today. Girl, what if your biro leaks? I also feel uneasy about the abundance of ¾ length board shorts on display. Thankfully, I have not seen anyone wearing ¾ length board shorts whilst holding a Louis Vuitton handbag because I think my brain might short circuit and implode.

9.22 am: ¾ length boardies aren’t so bad. I’ve become so cynical and jaded. Really, what could be more practical? You could just pop to the beach on your study break if you wanted? Why not leave your options open? This feels like an epiphany.

3.20 pm: ‘Next round is on you mate’ (in reference to coffees).

4.15 pm: In my periphery I see someone approaching the cluster of desks I’m sitting at. My detritus is spread across two tables because I like personal space and fuck you. Thankfully, he turns and decides to try and sit next to my friend who has headphones on and her jumper on the seat next to her. He does this despite the fact there are empty, more accessible seats readily available in the library.

4.16 pm: He gets closer, ‘excuse me’ he says, ‘excuse me’ he repeats. She does not hear or see him coming. He reaches out his claw to pet her on the shoulder. He makes contact and she recoils in shock. ‘May I sit here?’ he asks. She doesn’t respond, mouth aghast, she flings her jumper on the floor, making way for him. I am only grateful it didn’t happen to me. It’s days like these I thank God for the resting bitch face that makes me so unapproachable.

Friday 06/11/2015

I did not go to uni today. I don’t know if I ever will again. I have suffered enough for my art.