The Anatomy of an All-Nighter

by Kris Olson

Dear Kris,

I have the time-management skills of cabbage, and now I have to pull an all-nighter to finish my paper by tomorrow. Can you advise me on how to take care of this project?

–Michael Conning

Thank you for the letter, Michael. Special thanks for your helping me steal the “Kydd U. Naught” advice letter format. Did you know that John Irving writes those things?

The first step is to have no real interest in the person, since becoming … Wait, you said all-nighter and not one-nighter? Let’s try this again:

Because college eventually gets in the way of a person’s education, all-nighters become inevitabilities. Every now and then you’ll have friends who claim to sleep at least six or seven hours a night. Ignore them. Your job is to kill these people and convert them into energy drinks.

The most disheartening all-nighters are those you see coming even though it’s not even nighttime yet. It’s sort of like staring down an oncoming train and discovering that your shoes are caught in the railroad ties. You have also paid about $33,000 to stand on these tracks.

Before proceeding, know some all-nighter ground rules: Finishing things for class earns you the right to tell your friends that you pulled an all-nighter. So does being “sexiled.” Participating in a LAN party, however, makes you ineligible for all-nighter status.

Step one after committing to an all-nighter is dropping by the 1780 Café so that you can gorge yourself on junk food before your session starts. Two tips for visiting the 1780: First, be sure to show up mere seconds before the café closes and order as much food as possible. Second, whatever you do, make sure that upon ordering your food you walk away, never to return. No matter how many times you hear the phrase “Chicken Bacon Ranch” yelled, claiming it would be too predictable.

Having returned to your room or the computer lab with an adequate supply of Red Bull, please take a moment to log on to Facebook, Twitter or the Fail Blog. For real overachievers, consider turning the Facebook chat function on. So that everyone knows what you are doing at that precise moment, feel free to write some sort of clever status like, “Pulling an all-nighter!”

It’s 4 a.m. now, Michael! Almost there! Just hang on! Don’t be discouraged by the fact that you have seen Rick Smith, the nightshift DPS officer, three or four times already. Simply keep typing those collections of words that can technically be defined as “sentences” and your essay will be all right.

If the sun is coming up and you are less than an hour from your deadline without even a topic for your paper, my best suggestion at this point is to simply eat alphabet soup and take a laxative. That seems to work for Stephenie Meyer.

I should also point out, Michael, that the submission deadline for Rambler columns is Sunday, though because of the Rambler’s printing schedule, you will be reading this response sometime Thursday afternoon, approximately three days after your assignment was due. It makes me wonder why you read this far.


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