November 2021 – I was but a young naïve frosh, getting my dinner from open kitchen. I sighted orange disks of vegetables and was full of hope, sweet potatoes iare some of my favorite foods. However, my hope quickly turned to confusion when the person in front of me ordered “yams” and was served what I had assumed was sweet potatoes. Reluctantly, I ordered the “yams” and bit into them. My confusion doubled when I realized what had been labeled yams were in fact sweet potatoes. Over the course of the next year my confusion grew as CDS repeatedly labeled sweet potatoes yams. I did hours of research and gave a presentation about this topic, as it is very dear to my heart. This year however, I redoubled my hunt for answers and took the problem right to CDS.
I spoke with a representative of CDS, who asked to remain anonymous about this situation. “We actually get fresh yams every week. We have someone whose job it is to fly to Africa or Asia to pick out the best yams and bring them back.”
“That’s actually a decent part of our budget, but we know how important yams are to the Caltech community.”
“Once the yams get here, we move them to a special room and lock them up to be used throughout the week. But when we go back later to use them, they’re always all gone, and nobody knows why”. “The cameras cut out for around 30 minutes and when they turn back on the yams are all gone”.
“So, we go to use the yams but there are none there. But we already put yams on the menu, so what are we to do? We have no choice but to go buy sweet potatoes and hope the students don’t notice.”
I was given a tour of the confidential facility in which they keep the yams, and afterward I came up with a hypothesis. The storage room for the yams was lacking in proper gremlin defenses, there were ramps and elevators, and you could get in and out of the room without taking any right turns. I decided to try to confirm my suspicions by conducting a stakeout the next time they got a shipment of yams.
Monday, after the new shipment of yams got in, I prepared myself. The yams usually disappeared between midnight and 2 AM according to CDS, so at 11 PM I found a nice bush that offered a view of the entrance and waited. For the first hour I saw a couple students walking around campus, but nothing out of the ordinary. Then, at around 12:15 I saw something shiny out of the corner of my eye. It was incredibly alluring, and I confess, I deserted my post to go chase after it. I woke up the next day clutching a shiny new quarter with no recollection of the previous night.
With the first stakeout a failure, I was even more determined the second week, I practiced avoiding getting distracted by shiny things and I was ready.
11:18 I got into location in a new bush with a green jacket to camouflage myself.
11:49 2 students pass by my hiding spot; they do not notice me.
12:23 I see something shiny, however I resist the temptation and stay in place.
12:56 I hear a rustling across the path and see what looks like 2 large ears sticking out of a bush.
01:01 A creature emerges from the bush and runs to the door. It enters the combo and opens the door.
01:02 Several other creatures emerge from the same bush and follow the first inside.
01:13 The creatures emerge with a cart full of yams. I can hear quiet cackling laughter.
01:14 The creatures all return to the bush they came from with the yams. The night goes still again.
01:45 I emerge from my hiding spot and search the area where the creatures disappeared into. I find nothing.
The stakeout confirmed my suspicions that it was gremlins stealing the yams. It did leave me with a new question though, how did the gremlins know the combination to the yam cellar? And why does CDS keep buying yams even though they predictably go missing every week. CDS claims that they “really want the students to have yams” and that they have been trying to increase security measures, including installing the new locking door the gremlins seemed to know the answer to.
This explanation did not satisfy me, why couldn’t they just hire a guard, or change the combo? I began to suspect something more nefarious was going on. I believe CDS is colluding with the gremlins to let the gremlins steal the fresh yams they get. This would explain why CDS keeps getting yams even though they are being stolen by gremlins and why the gremlins knew the combination to the door.
While this theory does explain some things, it raises the question of why would CDS make this deal, what’s in it for them? Is it possible the CDS workers are being paid by the gremlins? Or maybe the gremlins have threatened to wreak havoc if not given the sacrifice of yams. Or even more unlikely, the CDS workers are gremlins. The world may never know, because I am too much of a coward to investigate more.