In the pursuit of my journalistic career, more than once, I’ve been pushed to do things I never would have considered only a scant year ago.
Staying up late editing stories, blowing off friends to meet a deadline, killing a competitor for an internship and dumping the body in the Hocking River; these are the sacrifices a journalism student has to make for the sake of his major.
I was not aware of just how deep the rabbit hole went, however. It wasn’t until today that I saw the dark side of Athens — the seedy underbelly lurking just below the precociously hipster town we all know and tolerate.
It wasn’t until today that I delved into the belly of the beast, into the nefarious practice known only as … tabling.
We’ve all seen the tables lining the doors of Baker Center and the cardboard posters lining them. Join Phi Kappa Beta, they say! Support the OU College Dems! Sign this petition to stop kitten-gang violence!
Like most of you, I was content to plug in my earphones and walk past them, Lady GaGa’s dulcet tones drowning out their pleading cries. Never did I imagine that, one day, I would join them.
My assignment from The Post was simple: Man our table for an hour or two with a couple other guys, handing out fliers encouraging passersby to “like” us on Facebook. I don’t know why “like” has to be written in quotation marks; presumably, Mark Zuckerberg earns a dollar every time you say it. I was still thinking it would be an easy job when I heard the click, and realized that my ankle had been chained to the table.
It pretty much went downhill from there.
We lost Charlie when the first wave of sorority girls hit. Apparently our table was encroaching on Don Trixie’s territory, and they needed to “teach us who was running tables in this town.” Before today, I didn’t even know it was possible to kill someone with a pom-pom. I’ll never look at a volleyball again without screaming.
Half our fliers were lost in the attack, but still we pressed on. I didn’t understand then why my partners were so desperate to keep handing out fliers, but I helped as best I could.
No matter how we begged, however, no one wanted to “like” us. Free candy, glow sticks, lap dances; no amount of bribery caught their interest. The students walking past ignored us like we were Ron Paul at a Republican primary.
The hours stretched on. We’d depleted our supply of candy for sustenance and were considering eating Freddy when some careless soul dropped a hot dog near our table. We had to fight off the feral dogs for it, but a sweeter feast has never been had.
At long last, we were released — but the fear in my companions’ eyes had yet to fade. “We didn’t give away enough fliers,” whispered Freddy in horror. “We won’t get enough ‘likes.’?”
I was about to ask what he meant when a black van pulled over and men in ski masks pulled him and the others inside. I haven’t seen them since.
I still haven’t completely recovered from my tabling experience, but the therapist says in a few years I might be able to go into an IKEA store without sobbing.
To all of you out there who walk past the tables at Baker without a second glance, I beg you: take their fliers. Show some interest. And please, please, “like” The Post.
For the love of heaven, “like” The Post.
Ryan McAndrews is a junior studying journalism and a columnist for The Post. Were you scarred from tabling? Send him your story at firstname.lastname@example.org