By Staff Writers, For The Miami Student
First Stop — Kevin
First Stop is fairly empty, a clear indication that it’s a weekday morning.
Students tuck away their umbrellas just inside the glass doors, and have just enough time to pick up a newspaper before being seated by the hostess.
“Is this table good?”
Like most customers today, I say yes before proceeding to sit alone, eyes alternating between a laptop and menu.
A boy in a black mesh shirt picks methodically at his french toast. He carefully spreads butter before returning his attention to YouTube, sipping OJ between videos.
Even those with company stay relatively isolated. All interaction is confined to the table, broken only by the occasional waitress.
A guy in a green vest glances at the row of silent television screens as his friend across the table places an order.
“Can I have a water and coffee and then can I have a combo one with the eggs over easy and sausage?”
“What kind of bread?”
“Wheat toast, please.”
When it’s my turn, I order the strawberry waffles. Kaicey, my waitress, smiles and nods before retreating to the kitchen.
A girl in a gray skirt scampers through the front door to join her three friends in a booth. One of the girls greets her with a stifled round of applause before quietly sinking back into her seat.
This morning’s conversational specials include the rainy weather, cheerleading drama and a crowd favorite — the weekend’s frat parties.
The girls get up to leave, cueing another waitress to whisk away their plates on a hefty gray platter. Their time in First Stop has ended, but the waitress’ has just begun.
Slant Walk — Britton
A steady stream of people, mostly students, make their way across the street to campus and file down Slant Walk.
It’s raining, but only a few carry umbrellas. Most rely on their rain jackets and rubber boots, ear buds in and heads ducked.
One student walks by, the hood of her cotton sweatjacket pulled taut over her head. She looks miserable and it makes me thankful for my blue and white jacket.
My boyfriend, Luke, and I head down Slant Walk, toward Upham, our final destination.
“Miami should hand out free umbrellas, not T-shirts,” he says, and I know he’s only slightly kidding.
The rain’s trajectory changes. It’s coming down sideways now.
My thoughts flick briefly to the somewhat unprotected laptop in my backpack.
It’s quiet, save for the raindrops against the pavement. I wonder if the lack of conversation is due to the weather, or the early hour.
Rec Center Pool — Kelly
Walking into the aquatic center, the humidity hits you like a wall. Across the room, the scoreboard displays the hours of operation for various pools. Across the top, a message rolls by.
“Welcome to the Corwin M. Nixon Aquatics Center. Have a wonderful day!”
Instead of students, Oxford residents occupy the lanes, but even they are relatively few in number.
Morning talk shows blare over the speakers and mingle with the constant sound of water rushing into drains. The lifeguards sit in their high chairs, looking bored and disinterested. There’s simply nothing to watch.
The only exception is the leisure pool.
It sits separated from the other three pools by a wall of glass windows. Through those windows, you can see a group of senior citizens bobbing up and down in the shallow water. On the side of the pool, a woman in a red tank top directs the water fitness class.
The lifeguards begin to rotate stands. A male student in a red t-shirt comes out of the office, safety tube in hand, and takes the place of the guard sitting at the lap pool. She gets down and walks along the edge of the pool, circling it, until she reaches the door to leisure.
She enters and switches with the guard there. At the same time, the instructor dismisses her class and the patrons exit the water slowly.
The talk radio still mixes with the sound of rushing water and the same message trails across the neon board on the wall.
“Welcome to the Corwin M. Nixon Aquatics center. Have a wonderful day!”
Miami Ice — Alison
The line for the register varies anywhere between five and ten students, with more lingering nearby, waiting for their orders.
Everyone either holds an umbrella or wears a raincoat dotted with water droplets.
Maroon 5 plays from above, sounding distant compared to the almost constant whirring of the machine making specialty drinks.
No one talks — most are there alone to grab a cup of coffee before class, and it’s too early for real conversation anyway.
Every few minutes there’s a high-pitched click as a student taps their ID. Ice rattles into a cup.
A guy in a blue jacket grabs his iced coffee and turns around to grab a straw from the cart. His cup is tipped dangerously far forward, the liquid ready to spill out, but he doesn’t notice.
There’s a hum of conversation as more students arrive, mixed with Adele’s familiar notes.
A girl in a black sweatshirt throws away her ice cream container — an interesting choice for 10:00 in the morning — and gets the last bit of ice cream off the spoon before tossing that, too.
Another loud whir emanates from the smoothie machine, and the sound drowns everything else out for a few seconds.
Harris Dining Hall — Joey
There’s only about a dozen or so people in the dining hall. Most people in the room are sitting alone, staring at phones or computers as they eat. It’s dead quiet, save for the background music playing through the speakers.
Two girls ahead of me sit at opposite ends of a large round table with plates and trays spread out.
“When I asked her, her voice was so sarcastic,” one says, speaking of a mutual acquaintance.
“That’s so annoying,” her friend responds.
Across the room, one girl walks up to another girl sitting down as she prepares to leave.
“What up?” she asks. “You in Chem 142?”
“Um, I’m in Chem 145.”
“Alright, I’ll see you later.”
The conversation ends and she walks away.
After about 20 minutes, the population in the room has doubled. Patrons get coffee, grab cups and balance trays as they find seats. The sounds of dishes clanking, ice rattling and milk pouring pick up.
A male worker with a hair net around his chin walks out of the serving room.
“Eggs are up!” he shouts.
A group of four girls sitting at a table finish their breakfast with cones of soft-serve ice cream. They laugh together as they exit the hall.
Sundial — Audrey
It’s 58 degrees outside, but the raindrops make it feel much cooler. The smell from the rain is overwhelming and there are puddles everywhere — all signs that spring is almost here.
Girls walk out of the sorority dorms and immediately pop up the hoods of their matching raincoats.
People pass the Sundial on their way to class. Nearly everyone has headphones in, avoiding both eye contact and conversation.
The bright umbrellas people carry add the only color to the gray, dreary day. Pink, blue and purple pass by.
No one smiles. They just look at the ground.
At around 9:50, people start coming from all directions heading to and from class. People criss-cross the pathways and narrowly avoid collisions.
A group of girls walk in sync, each step of their Hunter Boots slosh against the puddles on the sidewalk.
Guys pass by too, but they are all without umbrellas.
Water droplets hang off the turtles’ faces for a while before dropping to the ground with a collective “plop.”
A girl walks by with a half-eaten apple and a cup of coffee, all the while trying to hold a polka dotted umbrella. She struggles, but manages to make it work.
By 9:57, the once busy intersection is completely empty.
Reported by Kelly Burns, Audrey Davis, Joey Hart, Alison Perelman, Britton Perelman and Kevin Vestal