The Button is one of the few spots at Penn that allows you to run into any particular Penn subculture or Philly personality at a given time. I camped out a bench by the Button for a few hours and collected a few observations that seem to sum up a lot of what makes Penn, Penn.
12:08 p.m.: Hopped on a bench on Penn’s campus with dreams and a cardigan.
12:09 p.m.: That was all a lie, "Party in the USA" was just stuck in my head. I have no dreams and am definitely not only wearing a cardigan in this weather. I am sitting on a bench, though. That part is true.
12:11 p.m.: My accomplices in Button Dispatching are three people eating their lunches on different benches. One couple sits in silence, and the other person speaks loudly in a foreign language and uses lots of hand gestures.
12:20 p.m.: Fluffy golden retriever approaches.
12:21 p.m.: Fluffy golden retriever poops. The owner looks around to gauge if she can get away with just leaving it there and then makes eye contact with me. She looks mildly disappointed, then searches for a doggy bag and proceeds to pick up the poop.
12:27 p.m.: A small child in puffy winter gear escapes mother and approaches Van Pelt steps rather unsteadily. Slow down, please. Don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall, don't––
12:28 p.m.: Small child falls.
12:29 p.m.: Canada Geese have landed, synchronized responses to a GroupMe message, and take flight approximately 30 seconds later.
12:31 p.m.: A small brunette girl in all black gets on the phone with presumed bestie and complains about her lack of metallic apparel for a party in two days. “No, it has to be silver. I can’t just paint my body; they told us if we look attractive in any way we’re going to get punished. We’re supposed to look unattractive. Yeah, the next one’s going to be Smurfs. Smurfs!”
12:34 p.m.: A scarfed man takes a selfie with the Button. He noticeably has to flip the camera. Then he retakes the selfie and walks away.
12:51 p.m.: I leave my post for class.
1:57 p.m.: I've returned to my station. Traffic seems to have picked up a bit. The rag–tag team of bench sitters I left behind are no longer here. I will miss the happy shouting and expressive hands.
2:03 p.m.: A man in a suit holding a coffee cup is staring at a bench inscription very intently.
2:24 p.m.: Things are pretty quiet so I went to observe this bench inscription and see what all the hype was about. There’s nothing there. He was just staring at the top of a bench for two minutes. I’m disappointed and also curious as to what he was zoning out about.
2:25 p.m.: Seven people are carrying very large pieces of plywood to an unknown location. The last one makes eye contact with me and gives me a knowing nod.
2:31 p.m.: Two people started playing Frisbee, but they don’t seem like the coordinated sorts. They’re standing about five yards apart and are barely making the catches. I think that they think this is just what you do at college.
2:55 p.m.: I just watched the fall of greatness. I saw a professor trip. We made eye contact. Oh god. Is my grade going to be lowered for this?
3:09 p.m.: Two boys are filming a prank video. He’s going to start saying things to strangers. I fear for them.
3:11 p.m.: His first task is to walk up to someone and act like he has known them for a long period of time. He picked a tall ginger and did a bro shake. Joke’s on him, though— tall ginger just played along and then the jokester had to make an awkward exit of his own as the pair continued to walk and chat down Locust.
3:15 p.m.: The jokester is now walking up to strangers and saying, "You've changed!" in a sad and hurt tone. A guy just replies to him with, "Happens, man," and walks away.
3:25 pm: The pranksters seem discouraged and discuss their options of trying again later. I think I’ll do the same. Peace out, Button.
Header Photo From Creative Commons, Flickr