All I want to do is charge my laptop while I eat my sushi

By: Cory Berlekamp
Twitter: @Cberlekamp

The time is 12:50 p.m., my stomach is growling, and I finally have a break to go grab some lunch at the College of Business and Student Life building. Fighting the cold, I cross campus from Egner to the Refinery. I wait patiently in line for my sushi, scan the seating arrangements and decide I want to sit in a booth.

I have my drink ready and pour soy sauce on my crunchy roll, toss a leg under, and get comfortable. But, I should use some of this down time to catch up on some homework so I pull out my laptop and realize I am only at 12% battery life. Now I have to spend the next 15 minutes leaving mine and invading other’s comfort zones while I search like a truffle pig trying to find an outlet to charge my electronics.

Where are all the outlets in the Refinery? I finally decided to go on an outlet hunt the other day and I was not surprised to find that there are no hidden spots for charging, just very few in contrast to the amount of seating in the commons.

In this giant room, there are 10 couch and chair combos, 34 high top and low top tables, four circle booths and three square booths. This building sees a lot of action during the lunch hours but finding a spot to sit never seems to be a problem. So in my search I found a total of 37 outlets, which sounds like a reasonable amount except 20 of those are all the way to one side of the room.

There are 10 USB/single outlets spanned across the big, carpeted stairs on one side of the Refinery, there are also 10 facing the hallway. But for all this charging, there is no comfort. And if you decide to stretch your cord all the way to a couch or a table, be prepared to trip some unsuspecting medical student while your charger is violently ripped from your computer. Or you can do some rearranging with the furniture and just drag your seating to the wall if you do not mind looking like a disgruntled student since you are probably doing it out of sheer frustration.

The pillars and the hardwood floors nearest to Jazzman’s Coffee hold four outlets, two on the pillars and two on the floor. But the seats closest to these are the high top tables. Which is fine if you do not mind the bustle of students trying to grab a coffee before their next class and the onslaught of people standing awkwardly trying to find a place to eat.

These seats also are not the most comfortable and personally I do not trust any chair where my feet do not touch the ground. And the four outlets blending in to the carpet intermingling in the pathways of the couches do not seem to help. This awkward placement once again turns your cord in to an element of an obstacle course for anyone just passing by.
This means that the most private and comfortable seating, the booths, are left without a power source. These booths are popular amongst people who want to stretch out or have group projects to do and I am always proud when I snag one for my own use. But every time I do, it is as if I have wiped my memory of my previous lunches and repeat the first two paragraphs of this opinion.

So what is a student to do? Bring in an extension cord and hope amongst hope that people are not too preoccupied by their day to notice the trip wire? I do not know how hard it would be to install some new outlets, but for now I will just try my best to make sure that I am fully charged before I crack in to my sushi.

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