So quiet engineers can hear a ping pong ball drop
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 00:10
There is a palpable silence on the third floor of Kingsbury. The halls that once rung with the tinny bouncing of ping pong balls now bear a silence wanting of times past. Sometime during the summer, the ping pong table, a gift to the mathematics department from professor Donald Hadwin, was stolen and then – just as mysteriously – returned, outside the building.
The ping pong table served as a locus of community for many graduate students looking to kill time and stress in between classes.
“It’s a great stress relief,” junior hydrology major CJ May said. “I would always play games between classes and homework.”
Despite the fact that it was returned, the ping pong table is no longer in playable condition. Upon its reemergence, the table was left leaning outside Kingsbury for days and now displays visible weathering.
There’s no net, each side is warped and caves into the center, and there are stray planks of broken wood underneath. Perhaps the most salient change is the absence of players.
For fifth year student and math education major Meagan Boucher, the ping pong table has been a staple of the math department for the entirety of her education at UNH, and Boucher is not about to let it go.
“I would be walking up to the third floor and could hear the ping pong balls,” Boucher said of the time when ping pong reigned, “and it was just the best noise ever.”
Boucher, who learned everything she knows about ping pong from playing in Kingsbury, is trying to bring the aura of community back.
She has created a Facebook page for the dilapidated table (facebook.com/kingsburypingpong), where anyone can donate money towards the purchase of a new table.
Boucher is looking to raise $300. “And if I can’t get there through the website,” she said, “I’ll hold a bake sale. Anything, really.”
The determination Boucher shows for putting ping pong back in Kingsbury transcends the paddle waving game itself, and is more focused on the community aspect.
“One of the grad students had paddles in their drawer,” she explained of the community the game had fostered, “and would let anyone come in and borrow them. And he hasn’t played at all this year because the table is in such poor shape, but that’s the type of community we’re talking about here.”
The Kingsbury ping pong table scandal is analogous of a time when everything has to be locked up.
Boucher explained a rumor of how the table was actually stolen. She said one day a man came into Kinsgbury and spun a yarn to the people playing ping pong that he was going to fix the table and bring it back.
This Grinch-like tactic worked. Unfortunately, unlike the Grinch, whoever stole the table didn’t bring it back in the same condition he found it. Now, engineering and math majors alike are left without ping pong.
“It’s odd that it got stolen,” junior chemical engineering student Chris Blais said. “I mean, how did someone get something that size down three flights of stairs?”
When informed of Boucher’s Facebook page to raise money for a new table, Blais suggested she purchase a foosball table instead, “because it would be harder to carry down three flights of stairs.”
Boucher is hopeful that she can raise enough money to buy a new table, but not everyone in Kingsbury is ready to see the historic table go.
Senior computer science major Scott Cypher thinks the worn-out table adds character.
“What is this, the MUB’s game room?” Cypher said. “No. I wish it was more broken.”
Regardless of the disparate feelings toward the ping pong table, there’s one thing everyone agrees on.
Ping pong – like Christmas – doesn’t come from a store, it, perhaps, means a little bit more. Stealing the ping pong table will not stop ping pong from coming, as we speak the money is summing.