The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Smile! You’re on candid camera!

Justin Tardiff | Monday, December 5, 2005

Nuclear warfare is not an area I am well-versed in, so when I went to LaFortune to write an article on a lecture about the future of non-proliferation, I needed to concentrate. I sat down in a booth at 6:45 p.m. with the intent of finishing the article by 8. With my laptop out and several pages of notes beside me on the table, it should have been obvious to anyone passing by that I was working.

Forty-five minutes later, I was still writing when a guy came and sat down on the bench right across from me and started playing a game of solitaire with his cards. I looked at him for a minute, wondering why he was sitting at the table with me and not at one of the several other available tables or chairs in the room. He avoided eye contact and continued playing an intense game of solitaire, partially covering my notes with his cards. (Yes, solitaire can be intense.)

Having grown up with five younger siblings, I can handle more distractions and noise when working than the typical person, so I moved my notes a little closer to me and continued writing.

A few minutes later, another guy came over to my table and greeted his solitaire-playing friend. He sat down and they started playing a game of War. I kept expecting one of them to look up and notice me, but it never happened. It was as if I was not even there. Time was passing quickly and I needed to finish my article, so I returned to my computer and tried to ignore the card battle taking place just inches away from me.

At 10 minutes before eight, a girl came to my booth – or what had been my booth – and sat down right next to me. She asked the guys if she could show them a magic trick.

By this time, I am sandwiched in the corner. My backpack is close beside me to make room for the girl, my notes are in a pile right next to my computer, and I know my five siblings have never produced distraction like this.

I decide it is not even worth it to ask them to leave, since I have such little time to finish and I am not sure these people will be receptive to my request to move the magic show elsewhere. I begin to gather my things, and suddenly another student emerges from behind a pillar with a videocamera.

I was the target of a sociology class’s project to see how people react when social norms are violated. Now when I am in LaFortune, I keep an eye out for wandering card players and hidden cameramen. If I can help it, I will not be starring in any more hidden camera shows.