It was a cold, dreary day in Morningside Heights. Columbia’s campus was buzzing as it normally does, despite the rain that threatened to drench me before I could make it to class. I was sprinting to my 11:40 (as I normally do) when I heard a loud scream from someone on Low Beach. By the sound of her terror, I stopped dead in my tracks, and while I was trying to come up with excuses for my French professor for being late, I slowly turned around…
Low steps filled up as quickly as it did for its normal protests. I wondered if I misheard the scream for another passionate speaker with a megaphone, but something about the scream compelled me to investigate the scene. I slowly pushed past people with their phones out trying to create Facebook Live posts. When I finally reached the front of the crowd, I didn’t understand what was wrong. Noticing that I was confused, a nearby student tapped me on the shoulder and pointed upwards to the red letters now sprawled on the exterior of Low. I realized that it had been written from the blood of a rat that was now attached to the building. The writing read:
The Café of Uris has been opened. Enemies of the heir… beware.
Uris Café? Hasn’t it always been open? Enemies of the heir? What does this all mean? I looked around, searching for answers as I realized that people were beginning to disperse, looking no further into the mystery. I turned to the man who showed me the warning and asked, “Don’t you want to know what this means?” He shrugged as he put his phone back into his pocket, “I only came to take a snap so I could finally make it onto the Ivy League Snapchat Story. I’ve got Lit Hum now anyway.” He turned and left, leaving me all by myself. Like everyone else, I gave up, and began to walk back to class. As I was walking up Low steps, I noticed something peculiar: tens of rats scurrying in a line towards Uris Café! Already twenty minutes late, I made the executive decision to ditch class and pay the consequences later as I quickly followed the rats.
The rats led me straight to Uris. I disentangled myself from a crowd of hungry business students as I began to look for answers. I turned to my left and saw the Uris Deli and noticed a blue A on the wall; obviously the rats didn’t call the deli their home. I looked down and saw the rats make a beeline for a clear display case in the corner of the cafeteria. Inside the case were unappealing “ham and cheese buns” and “goat cheese and spinach puffs” alongside other small snacks that desperately wanted to be saved from the café. The rats quickly scurried under the coffee display hidden behind frantic workers working quickly to complete orders.
I asked, “Did you see what was written on Low? ‘The Café of Uris has been opened. Enemies of the heir… beware.’ What does all of that mean?” One of the tired workers quickly retorted, “Oh, you saw our new ad? We’re trying it out to get some of our customers back after the C rating and we know that most of the students are Harry Potter fans. We were trying to say that Uris Café is open and if you’re worried about rat hair in your food, this might not be the best place to pick up food. Someone misspelled hair as ‘heir.’ I can’t trust anyone to do anything right.”
I turned to leave Uris as fast I could. The lengths that people would go to for customers was petrifying. I rushed back to Barnard and got my clean and rat-free coffee and sandwich from there. I’ve been living and dining in Hewitt ever since.