With a cigarette in her trembling hand, Daphne Jones ’17 sat on a hard, plastic cafeteria chair. Sounds of students conversing, plates clattering, drinks sloshing, ice crunching, and friends laughing surrounded Daphne, but she spoke as if she couldn’t hear a thing.
I held my pen and paper in hand, expectant. Two weeks ago, I received an anonymous text that read, “Meet me in the cafeteria at 1:00 p.m., two Tuesdays from this one. Wear black. I will be the one with the red bowl of clam chowder and a green bowl filled with only three Cheerios. Tell no one.” I texted back, “new phone who dis?” to no avail. I chuckled at my well-timed meme usage, and added the meeting to my iPhone calendar app. Who am I to deny myself of a little excitement?
I found Daphne in the corner of the cafeteria, where the exact same 30 people eat every day. “Boy, do I have a scoop for you,” she said. She took a drag of her cigarette while I looked around for the nearest smoke detector.
“I’m being followed,” she whispered. “No one will believe me, but I know you will.” She took my hand; hers were clammy and had a bit of clam chowder on them. She took a deep breath and began: “It started in January on the first day of classes. I started finding Suze Orman personal finance books in my backpack. Every time I checked my campus mailbox? It was filled with vaguely threatening letters asking for money. I’d wake up and find my sock drawer emptied. And all my socks were laying on the floor spelling out GET A JOB. It was horrifying. And then, one day…” she took a deep breath, “a briefcase appeared on my desk.”
Daphne began sobbing over her three Cheerios. I empathetically patted her on the back and said, “Well…it sounds like something you’ve been putting off for a long time has come back to haunt you. I think I know what to do.”
I fumbled around in my backpack for a while. I pulled out a pocketknife, my Taser, two bottles of ibuprofen, a salt shaker, a purple folder, six gummy bears, twenty-one peanut M&M’s, and one bottle of heavily scented hand lotion. I put back the pocket knife, my Taser, the bottles of ibuprofen, the salt shaker, the gummy bears, and the peanut M&M’s. I slid the purple folder across the table, stood up, and started to walk away. Daphne, now alone, slowly opened the folder. She stood up, screamed, and passed out onto the stylish Aramark carpeting. Passersby rushed to her assistance, ignoring the job application that sat on the table.