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Ask The Haybale: Guy From Entry Thinks He’s Living In Orphanage From Oliver!, Keeps Asking For Gruel

Dear the Haybale,

My move-in to college started just like anybody else’s—I carried my belongings up four flights of stairs in ninety-degree heat, said goodbye to my parents, and prepared myself to meet my new classmates. I was about to have my first entry meeting, when I was suddenly tapped on the shoulder.

“Excuse me mam but I was wond’ring if you ‘ave any gruel for me,” asked a small child with a Cockney accent. I figured he was in the wrong place, so I asked him where his parents were. He responded that he is an orphan, and started tearing up. That was awkward. Then, I asked him if he lives in my dorm. He led me to his room, which was two doors down from mine. Clear as day, it had a sign that said “Welcome to Sage 4, Gimme Gimme More.” And his sign had a picture of mental breakdown Britney, which I thought was a problematic choice for our JAs to include. Below that, it said his name, Aaron Tripkins, and his hometown, Des Moines. Now, I’m no geography expert, but as far as I know, Des Moines isn’t in England.

“Oi mam,” he said as he tapped me on the shoulder, “you never answered me question. Can I ‘ave some gruel?” I turned away from the sign to look back at him, and I noticed that below his paperboy hat and dirt-covered collared shirt, he was actually just walking around on his knees so he would look shorter.

“Uh, Aaron,” I responded, deciding to end the conversation, “I don’t have any gruel. I’m sorry. I’m gonna head to my entry meeting.” He sadly tipped his hat at me as I walked towards the croom. I figured it would be the end. Clearly, it was just his way of coping with first day jitters and it would cool down over time.

It wasn’t. Every time our JAs would ask for entry snack recommendations, he’d sing the song “Food Glorious Food” and beg for some gruel. The JAs and other people in my entry hardly bat an eye. I guess they’re trying to be respectful, but it’s getting out of hand. Last night at 3 A.M., I woke up to aggressive knocking on my door. It was Aaron, holding a bowl.

“I’m beggin’ ye missus, can I ‘ave some more gruel?” When I firmly denied having any gruel and chastised him for waking me up from my much needed sleep, he nodded, but then followed me into my room and grabbed my box of instant oatmeal packets. I was too tired to do anything at all.

What’s the solution? Should I play along? Do I ask my JAs for help? Should I go buy some gruel for this guy? Is he starving?


Melissa Orbin ’26


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