Homeless for a Night at MIT

Finding the best place to sleep on-campus after a sleepless night
NOV 2018
Somesh
M.
Materials Science and Engineering

I was in the middle of a formal dinner with the Under Secretary of the US Department of Energy, when my cell phone signaled the Outlook notification –

Thursday, August 9, 2018 at 9:30 PM
[70 AMHERST] FACILITIES EMERGENCY - BUILDING CLOSING

The severity of the situation did not strike me at first amidst the animated conversations regarding the changing nature of research funding. But once the meeting was done and I was out in the hot and humid Boston night dragging along my 3-piece suit clad self, it hit hard – I actually might not have a place for the night.

As other graduate students might do, perhaps, I chose to go to the lab to work. Optimistically, I hoped that it would be something minor and I would soon receive an ‘issue resolved’ email.

Once done with my lab work, I moved to the DMSE Commons (departmental lounge) (Location 0) to grab some quick rest, until –

Friday, August 10, 2018 at 12:30 AM
[70 AMHERST] Temporary Spaces in Tang Hall

This was not the email I had been expecting, but it brought me some relief. So, with my bags packed, I booked a SafeRide Campus Shuttle to go to Tang. Looking back, I wish somebody had given me a quick description of the rooms at Tang.

The arrival was dramatic. I was subletting at 70 Amherst over the Summer, so my name was not on the list of residents, and I was not officially allowed to be there. But, the staff seemed to pity my formal-suit self in the summer heat, and after vetting through the sub-licensee mail and my ID Card, she let me in.

Finally, a place to sleep!

Taking the key, I walked on to my assigned room (Location 1) and returned immediately to the main desk. Reason: There was no air-conditioning unit in the room. So, off I went again with the desk-staff to check if another room had one.

Nope! Tang does not provide AC units in the room.

Uninterested in having an all-night sauna, I exited Tang into the night heat.

At this point, I adventurously planned to spend the night outside on the marble benches by Killian court (Location 2). Around the time I was making peace with the stone mattress, I realized I had company. The night had just gotten ‘wild’ with mosquitoes and bugs.

Moving my introverted self away from the wild beings, I took shelter on the carpet a few feet away in the Dollar Lounge in Lobby 10 (Location 3). The calmness was breached by the facilities staff who were trying to set up the room and the corridors for another day of touristy expeditions, and I was kicked out.

Suddenly, I had this idea of Googling ‘top places to nap at mit’, and landed at these two pieces:

  1. https://thetech.com/2015/12/03/napping-v135-n34

  2. https://www.reddit.com/r/mit/comments/1nxs4b/are_there_any_good_oncampus_places_to_meditatenap/

Not bad!

On an optimistic note, I moved towards the emerald nap-pods of Barker (Location 4). Now there was a dome above my head rather than the sky. I would agree that this is one of the best spots for a nap with serenity and serendipity, although can be a bit unsettling given that the well-engineered couches make for nice seating but not so great napping, the detail being the hard head-rests which strain the neck.

After a while there, unable to bear the pain in my neck, I moved to the hard floor of a classroom - 13-50xx (was too sleepy to care) (Location 5), attempting to use my wrapped up blazer as a pillow. It was cool and bereft of mosquitoes, but not the most comfortable place to sleep.

Thankfully, it was a brief nap until one nice soul took pity on me and directed me towards a couch in front of the elevator in 13-20xx (Location 6). Arriving there, I slipped off my shoes, loosened the sleeves in my slumber and used the blazer-pillow to rest until the sun shone.

My mobile did vibrate after a while –

Friday, August 10, 2018 at 6:29 AM
[70 AMHERST] Building Still Closed – Update

With my tired eyes, I checked it and went back to sleep, but then after what felt like an eternity of turning around on the couch, trying to settle into a sweet spot which turned bitter in moments, I received the final email for the day –

Friday, August 10, 2018 at 7:23 AM
[70 AMHERST] BUILDING NOW OPEN, ALL RESIDENTS CAN RETURN

Shrugging off the slumber, I ran toward the dorm to hug my mattress to sleep.

But wait, the story does not end here!

Excited and tired, I was detailing out my adventure to my lab-mate when we came across the most comfortable consortium of couches in Stata Center.

How I wish I knew of them before. :(

Visiting the places I tried to sleep in