8 Ways to Tell…

Warning: dealing with sleep-deprived graduate students can be dangerous to your health, mental stability, and ability to get your morning coffee in a timely fashion. But not all individuals fitting this description wear a convenient neon sign. So how do you pick one from the crowd?

Eight Ways to Tell if You’re Looking at a Sleep-Deprived Graduate Student
(EWTYLSDG): In its acronymic form, sounds akin to “Eat With Y’all’s Dog.”

Which brings me to method number 1:

1. Internet Lucidity
If the general intelligibility of all electronic communication has disintegrated to the point that A) it resembles one of the popular internet tests demonstrating the unimportance of letter order for reading comprehension, or B) it is written in German, Swahili, and Russian, quotes Shakespeare, incorporates chemical symbols, and concludes with a promise never to do (X) (at the last minute) again.

2. Debris Perimeter
A minimum of four coffee cups, including at least one from Starbucks, either cookie crumbs or candy wrappers, two or more crumpled sticky notes, a pen cap with tooth marks around the edges, several napkins soggy with spilled coffee, a box of Kleenex, at least two books, a computer, and a pair of headphones within a four foot radius of the suspect. The presence of a blanket, pillow, or alarm clock is sufficient proof in and of itself.

3. Musical Selection
If the average country music star’s post-breakup album has fewer songs about death and misery; if the presence of percussion, trumpets, and other generally-accepted signifiers of judgment day and/or alarm clocks gradually increases; or, if the playlist itself is more than eight hours in length…and is set to “repeat all.”

4. Non-Verbal Noises
Moans, groans, and under-the-breath mumbling could be linked to a number of stress-induced conditions; however, only rarely will a non-SDG be heard to hum a song from the David Lynch film Blue Velvet or whimper in dactyllic hexameter.

5. Accessories
If the individual carries a backpack, strike one. If the individual’s backpack is bulging at the seams, strike two. If the individual’s backpack has already begun to rip along the seams and a book is protruding, back away slowly.

6. Walk
Being passed by the average turtle, punctuating each step on the stairs with a despairing sigh, or bending the upper body at a 33.2 degree angle even when NOT carrying a book bag are all strong indicators that you are looking at an SDG.

7. Cringe Triggers
-“out of coffee”
-“out of ink”
-“out of paper”
-“out of order”
-“closing time”
-“temporarily unavailable”
-“failed to save”

…and finally, the last and most fail-proof way to recognize a Sleep-Deprived Graduate Student?

8. Shared Experience
You have been awake as long as they have, because you’ve been working on the same paper.


Published by Jen

The author of Snark on the Side is not your average run-of-the-millennial generation. Jen is a contradiction in terms: a graceful klutz, a smart blond, a math-savvy English degree-holder, a southern liberal, and an adult amateur equestrian who doesn’t match her saddle pads. Snark on the Side is a work in progress, born out of years of rambling email newsletters and anthropomorphized Christmas letters, small town observations, and the ever-present irony of pursuing a career with a degree in English literature. Thanks for visiting!

5 thoughts on “8 Ways to Tell…

  1. if there was an "I like" thumbs-up option on here, I'd click it. 🙂 I can TOTALLY relate to this list! Glad to hear you finished your paper. See ya tomorrow night?

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