Photo by Jamie Howell

“There are tons of other people who do it”, you said. There are very tangible health benefits, and you are pretty sure that you got enough sleep last night. However, nothing could have possibly prepared you for the gauntlet that you have thrown yourself into.

You took your coffee decaf.

It was so easy to do, so innocent. The distracted barista with Skrillex’s hair, obviously regretting his philosophy degree, misheard you in the crowded Starbucks, and followed up by asking, “You said you wanted that decaf, right?”

Obviously you did not. You ordered four shots of espresso for your espresso, but the words of Oprah, Rachel Ray or Gandhi —someone important—vaguely crossed your mind.

Decaf is the new thing, like bendable phones and kale. So you set your shoulders, tossed your hair back, and answered with pride. “Yeah”, you would take it decaf.

Midway through your oh-so-dreadful 9:00am computer science class you realize that this might have been a bad decision. It takes you until this point because you passed out on your keyboard about five minutes into class. Fourteen thousand copies of the letter ‘e’ is not exactly going to pass this class for you.

You wipe your drool off the mouse pad and focus intently on the board. You can do this. It is just decaffeinated coffee.

Calculus is even rougher. Someone left the heater on just a smudge too long, turning the crowded lecture hall into a warm, cozy, nap spot. You struggle valiantly against the sleep that is creeping up on you, but then your professor goes off on a tangent about sines and cosines, and you are toast.

The most disappointing thing about your short-lived dream is the fact that it is inevitably tainted by calculus anyway. Isaac Newton and his theorems are persistent little guys, are they not?

Thanks to the random guy who bumped into you as he was leaving, you manage to return to life in time to amble across Tech Parkway towards the solace of your admittedly easy English class. You make a mental note to thank this random student later or to at least perform some random act of kindness in the very near future.

Unfortunately, you resemble a zombie so adequately that, impressed with your role-playing, fifteen eager-beaver “Tech versus Zombies” players assault you with marshmallows, balled up socks and a reloadable bungee cord slingshot. You are not entirely sure what they are talking about, but you are definitely ‘stunned.’

In the background of this nonsense, you see a well-dressed wizard run by wielding a foam sword, but you easily chalk it up to an exhaustion-induced hallucination.

Surely, surely, such a person does not exist in real life, you think, and continue onward, rubbing your eyes.

At this point the wizard is waging battle along with an army of ninjas against a zombie horde. You believe this is most definitely a hallucination.

The rest of the day passes at a snail’s pace until you finally drop into your desk a little after ten, rubbing your eyes, and you realize that as a side-effect of your exhaustion, no work has been done, and you still have to finish that lab that you have not started yet and is due tomorrow.

You have been trapped in a loop. There is no way to finish your work without being tired, and if you end up tired, you will not do work until it is too late, and you will be exhausted again.

“Oh Tech, what creature have you created?” you ask, and with pride in one hand and your BuzzCard with that awkward forced smile picture of your self in the other, you take a trip back down to Starbucks, grab those 150ccs of Costa Rican caffeine and settle in for yet another long night of work.

You swear you will never, ever try going decaf again, no matter how much your blood pressure spikes. You are surprised that you even survived without caffeine for a good majority of the day.

You commend yourself for your gallant effort, but now you surely know the extent of your willpower when it comes to caffeine.