In general, I’m not a fan of being an inconvenience to other people. However, throughout my freshman year at Cornell, I’ve come across some circumstances where it’s necessary to assert myself.
As ridiculous as it sounds, the laundry room in my dorm on a Sunday night can be an aggressive place. Every washer is full, and people are scattered across the room on various couches trying to finish the homework they put off all weekend. When I come downstairs on these nights with my massive piles of laundry, I first check each washer that says it’s available. I open the door, peer in with bated breath, and discover that it’s full of someone else’s wet clothes. The obvious solution for some people, like Sarah, a freshman, is to take the other person’s clothes out, because if you snooze, you lose. “People need to take their clothes out of the washers because I need to wash my clothes and it’s not my fault if their clothes end up on the floor.” For me, grabbing all of someone’s laundry and tossing it on top of the washing machine is intimidating because the person the clothes belong to could be in the room. I don’t want a confrontation!
One particular Sunday I desperately needed to do laundry, so I gathered my courage and prepared to face the Sunday laundry crowd. After hauling all of my heavy laundry down to the basement, there was no way I was turning back. I entered the room, and found, of course, every washer was full. I glanced around the room. Everyone was feverishly completing their homework and no one was watching me. I opened the washer in front of me and hastily pulled out the clothes and began to place them on top of the machine. As my confidence was rising with each piece of clothing, a girl walked into the room, approached me, and took out the remainder of the clothes and put them in her basket. She had caught me red-handed... and she didn’t care. It was her own fault for leaving her clothes in the washer for a long time after the cycle finished. It turned out that all of my personal laundry room drama was not a big deal, and now after this experience I don’t hesitate to assert myself in the laundry room.
I may be a wimp, but there are multiple other, slightly less pathetic examples of times I’ve learned to assert myself at Cornell:
Fraternity bar night- Somehow, I’ve found myself at fraternity bar nights multiple times throughout the semester. Brothers serve drinks behind a bar, and eager girls gather in the narrow space in front of the bar requesting drinks. Once these girls receive their drinks, they proceed to stand there and (unintentionally) block out all the other thirsty girls. This is where some offensive action becomes necessary if I want to be served. In any other circumstance I would feel absolutely awful pushing in front of other girls, but when it comes to bar night there are no apologies. As freshman Haley put it; “Bar night is a brawl.”
Snagging a table at Collegetown Bagels- CTB is one of my favorite places to eat in Ithaca, and apparently many people agree with me because whenever I go there it’s overflowing with customers. This doesn’t bother me because the service is still fast and the food is still good- but there aren’t any tables. When I arrive at CTB, I do a walk-through to see who looks like they might be done eating. When I find such a group of people, I ask them if they’ll be done soon, and let them know that I want to take their table. They typically agree and eventually leave, but I’ve found that it speeds things up if you actually hover over them and wait. Obnoxious? Yes. Effective? Yes. I would never do this in a dining hall or the library, but I need to be seated to enjoy my pizza bagel. Sorry not sorry.
I’m not encouraging anyone to be rude or disrespectful, but I’ve come to realize that there are situations which call for some assertiveness. With these new skills, my laundry is washed quicker, my weekends are more fun, and my CTB experiences are even better.