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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer


Who's on aux at Hagerty?

We may never know.

As a general rule, I try to save my flex points for three things: Pure Leaf teas from the Huddle, chipotle turkey and avocado sandwiches from Au Bon Pain and strawberry banana smoothies from Hagerty Family Cafe. Call me a creature of habit, but when I have tried to pace my spending over the course of a semester, I have found it best to have priorities.

When it comes to which item I purchase most often, it is hands down the Hagerty Family Cafe smoothies. Who can blame me? I was embarrassingly excited when I discovered they changed their recipe from last year. Now the smoothies are so thick you need a big, fun and colorful straw to drink them — it’s the little things.

As such, I find myself at Hagerty a lot. There are worse places to be. Half the fun is awkwardly standing by the coffee stirrers and peering over to see who’s sitting at the tables as you wait for your order. If I’m feeling lucky, I’ll even try to scope out a spot and park myself there for a while to do some work.

But in those rare instances when I do find a table, it seems as though I never learn my lesson: I’m incapable of being productive at Hagerty. Every time I sit down, ready to flesh out an essay or work on a problem set, I have to face the music — literally. 

Morning or night, weekday or weekend, Hagerty seems to be playing the most chaotic playlist possible. Without fail. It’s 8 a.m. on a Tuesday? Sounds like “Last Friday Night” by Katy Perry is in order. Meeting with a TA to talk about an essay revision? Enjoy an intense instrumental version of “Demons” by Imagine Dragons as a backdrop for your conversation. Nervous to go on a coffee date? Don’t worry, you can count on some nice house music to calm your nerves. All of your activities are seemingly at the mercy of Hagerty’s shuffle button.

And this comes from someone who is regularly exposed – or subjected – to a vast array of musical tastes.

My roommate-recently-turned-SoundCloud-DJ has hosted two “listening parties” for her mixes this year. Much to my dismay during car rides, my older brother has recently been on an Ancient Roman music kick. And my dad’s favorite activity is to sit me down and make me listen to the lyrics of the Lyle Lovett song he’s currently worshiping. So, I get it. Everyone’s into their own thing.

The thing about Hagerty is that it’s so consistently chaotic. It can’t really seem to pick its “thing.” It begs the question: "Who’s on aux?" Who’s constantly keeping us smoothie lovers on our toes? 

In order to answer this seemingly simple question, I conducted some brief research. My first victim was one of the Hagerty baristas, who disconfirmed my assumption that it was an employee’s playlist on shuffle. Shrugging, she waved her hands in the air to indicate some omniscient restaurant person was in charge. Fair enough. 

I redirected my efforts to someone higher up and emailed Kristina Aalfs, the restaurant manager of Hagerty. However, this also led to a dead end. As it turns out, the restaurants have no control over the music. It’s “provided” for them. Again, I was redirected elsewhere and told to try contacting someone at Duncan Student Center.

Aware that I should be doing homework but too invested to turn back, I found myself emailing Unsurprisingly, this final and desperate attempt led to a dead end. Who knew that my very specific and silly question would go unanswered by a building’s extremely non-descript email address?

We may never know what omniscient presence is controlling the soundtrack of our Hagerty experience. In all fairness, it’s a cafe in an extremely busy student center, and Hagerty is by no means expected to embody serene productivity. Its choice of music holds no serious weight and is probably not worth 800 words.

Except, maybe it is. Things like this are just one of Notre Dame’s many enigmas – other content for this newspaper have explored different niche campus lore like the elusive drunk tank or the best dining hall meals. What we write down is what we remember. 

And while I don’t need to memorialize myself writing an essay about Shakespeare while “Party Rock Anthem” is playing in the background, I do want to remember the little things about college that made up my experience – no matter how insignificant or overlooked. Pay attention, stay curious, and be present.

One day we’ll have to face the music of real life, and we'll be wishing we could be where we are right now.

Allison Elshoff is a sophomore studying business analytics with minors in impact consulting and the Hesburgh Program of Public Service. Originally from Valencia, California and currently living in Badin Hall, you can find her unsubscribing from email lists or hammocking by the lakes. You can contact Allison at

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.