Ahhh the Illini Union... a place near and dear to so many hearts here at The University of Illinois. From Starbucks and Auntie Anne's to a bowling alley and a computer lab, the Union has so many great things to offer. With all these different things going on in one building, it's a very diverse crowd. Although you may see a few familiar faces if you go often, you're mostly surrounded by hundreds of strangers. Some are there for the same reason as you and others, well who knows why they're there. Regardless of who these people are, you're sure to come across at least a few of those appearing on this list during your trip to the Union.
1. The person playing the grand piano
We all know this person. They come into the nearly silent front room overlooking the quad and start tapping their little fingers on those keys. Most of the time, this can be soothing or eventually, you'll drown it out and forget there's even someone playing, or perhaps you brought your headphones! Lucky you! For those of us who forgot our headphones on our nightstands because we were watching "The Spongebob Squarepants Movie" in bed last night and forgot to put them in our backpacks *sigh,* we'll have to enjoy whatever piece of music that practicing musician has to offer. If this person is you, play as much as your little heart desires.
2. The person playing the grand piano...downstairs
So this person is pretty similar to the last person, but they have an edge. They don't want to play in complete silence. They don't care if you listen to them playing or not. They want to watch you scarf down your Blaze Pizza you waited 35 minutes to get while they play.
3. The person taking up the six person table, by themselves
I get that there aren't always too many tables, but if you're taking up a larger table and a smaller table opens up, consider moving! Obviously, it's annoying to move your stuff and get up, but it'll be a nice gesture to a group of people who need that table. A four-person table is one thing, but if you're taking up a table that big, expect strangers to make themselves at home on the other end.
4. The person that has clearly been there for more than 8 hours
The dark circles, messy hair, granola bar wrappers, and an empty coffee cup or three are all signs of this person. They probably waited until the day before to start really studying the exam material or maybe they're an engineering major and that's just what life is normally like. Either way, this person is stressed, tired, and wants to go home, so when you see them, give them an encouraging smile.
5. The person scrolling down social media while their textbooks remain untouched across the table
They've been there for at least forty-five minutes, and their books haven't even been touched. Everyone procrastinates in their own way! If this person wants to walk all the way to the Union to get nothing done, at least they got their steps in. This person does get annoying when the tables are running low and they're wasting a valuable seat. They're probably looking up study tips though, right?
6. The person staying at the hotel who wants nothing to do with the students
You only ever catch a glimpse of this person. They get off the elevator and immediately head to the door. They don't want to make eye contact with anyone and would much rather take an Uber to a different Starbucks if that means avoiding the Union. They're normally carrying bags for their stay in or out, and it's really funny when their rolling suitcase gets caught on the door's threshold. Bon voyage, Champaign!
7. The person selling baked goods for their RSO by the door
You see this person, then you don't. No, they didn't disappear, you're just avoiding eye contact. "I don't have any cash!" you say. You hear, "that's fine! We're accepting Venmo." You freeze because you don't know what to say, and you definitely don't feel like spending any money on their cake pops. You respond "I'm sorry, I'm gluten free!" to which they respond "we have gluten-free items too!" Now you're sitting in the union eating your $4.50 gluten-free brownie that tastes like dirt and you hate yourself and that RSO member.
8. The person eating Qdoba at the table next to you
Qdoba is one of the many food options at the Illini Union. You're bound to get stuck sitting by someone who decided it was a good idea to bring their food upstairs so they could continue studying. You can smell it from your table and you can't help but glance over at it. They're mindlessly eating away while writing their paper, meanwhile, you sit there in envy while you pick the pieces of gluten-free brownies out of your teeth.
9. The person on a bathroom break during a conference
They're walking slow, on their phone, and look dead inside. In reality, they've probably been at that conference all day and just want to go home or they're part of organizing the event and they're annoyed with whatever problems they may have run into. That bathroom break is about the only time they'll have to be alone and they just want to enjoy it. It's the little things in life.
10. The person passing through the Union to decrease their time outside in the cold
They're walking down either main hallway, probably rubbing their hands together, and blowing warm air into their scarf. Their face is wind-burnt and their glasses are fogged. They just walked from the Engineering Quad, and now they're headed toward the South Quad, so they'll take any second indoors that they can get. You'll only see them in passing, so be thankful you're not headed out in the cold behind them.
You may not encounter these people all in one trip, but they're all there. Who knows, maybe you are one of these people and that's nothing to be ashamed of. We all have RSO commitments and Pinterest boards to maintain. There's more of these people there than you think. Next time you find yourself in the Union, look around.