It’s usually quiet when I walk into the office, though that of course depends on the time of day I arrive — the later it is, the rowdier things usually are.
The afternoons are less populated, and when I arrive in the middle of the day I’m greeted by one or two “hello”s. Afternoon inhabitants often sit in class, interviews or edits.
As the day continues, more people trickle into the office, signing in at the door (a product of the pandemic) and grabbing a disposable mask if they’ve misplaced theirs (another product of the pandemic).
Nine times out of 10, the office is a bit messy. Today’s clutter inventory: the past few weeks of newspapers, water bottles, bags of Big Bowl takeout, a shipment of Keystone Press Awards, packs of spicy ramen, New Jersey bagels from our resident wrestling reporter/former sports editor.
On their desks, editors have made the office their own. Old newspapers, printed-out memes, Polaroids, twinkle lights, Harry Potter action figures, Goodwill finds, completed crossword puzzles, candles and a Harry Styles poster are among the relics that decorate the office right now.
Typically, things start to pop off in the evening — the prime time for edits, meetings, posting stories to our website and, on Wednesdays, the paper.
Of course, this is also the prime time for chatting. Which State College Walmart is superior? What types of salsa does Moe’s have? Is the Collegian’s weekly “things to do” listicle a Pulitzer Prize-worthy masterpiece? Which album will Taylor Swift re-record next? These are all important questions that the great philosophers of The Daily Collegian debated Sunday night.
Antics have become commonplace, too. They mainly surround hiding Maui the pineapple Squishmallow from his owner, or doing tricks on the Razor scooter that is too small for all of us.
Somehow, amid all this, work is still completed (and I think we do a pretty good job at it).
Between the work, conversations and antics, music is usually being played, and by music I mean Taylor Swift (to the delight or frustration of everyone).
For dinner, it’s nearly always takeout: Chipotle, Kondu, McAlister’s, Panera. Big Dean’s has become a newly minted office favorite.
Some nights, we finish our work early (8 p.m.) (this is rare). Other nights, we finish late (1 a.m.) (this is still rare, but more frequent).
But many of us don’t leave when we’re done. We sit in the office, joking around and talking about our days. Lately, we’ve spent the late night hours playing Animal Crossing, Super Smash Bros. or Zelda on the Switch.
Eventually, it’s time to go home. Those who live nearby walk home, and for the rest, rides are organized. “See you tomorrow”s are said, and we sign out one by one. The last person to leave turns out the lights, and the office is suddenly very quiet again.
Nowadays, it’s hard for me to find a moment when I’m the only person in the office. But when these moments do occur, I find myself feeling alone.
The Collegian is not an office or a newspaper or a website. The Collegian is the people who work here. We give the Collegian its life and personality, and in return it gives us work experience, life lessons and — most importantly — lifelong friendships.
Despite the global pandemic, we are able to work together and laugh together. The people at the Collegian have given the past year a sense of normalcy, and for that I am immensely grateful.
Happy birthday, Daily Collegian. Here’s to another year of work, laughter and friendships.