Life According to Ginger: The Truth About College Cafeterias

Life According to Ginger: The Truth About College Cafeterias

By Contributor

One of the things that sucks most about high school is the cafeteria, right? Right. There was that one perpetually grumpy lunch lady who would never let you take an extra scoop of applesauce (don’t criticize my 2nd grader palate, please). Her nemesis was the super-nice lunch lady who would give you free cookies when she found you aimlessly wandering the hallways (this probably happened more than it should have). Pizza that’s mostly plastic, the awkward couple of days at the beginning of the semester when you don’t know where to sit, the semi-annual lunch tray fights, and taco meat that was previously spaghetti sauce that was previously hamburger that was previously Salisbury steak.

So are college cafeterias way better?

No. Sorry! They’re better, but not THAT much.

First of all: the food! It's not up to Great Hall standards, and it doesn’t hold a match to Mrs. Weasley, but it blows high school food out of the water just by being edible. I haven’t found any hairs yet, the burgers are consistently decent, and the pizza is most likely NOT made of plastic. We have a couple more tests to do, but so far we haven’t found any evidence of plasticine materials. Plus, there’s a vegan line! How cool is that? Not that I could ever give up meat (speaking of which, why don’t I have bacon right now?), but the vegan food is pretty much always good. I suppose they feel bad because vegan people can only eat like three different foods.

Next: the staff! Instead of 30 grumpy lunch ladies, we get 300 overworked college students. This is the fault of the financial aid system at my school—pretty much everyone has a mandatory work-study job, and the cafeteria happens to be a convenient labor-intensive establishment. Therefore, everyone has to switch shifts a lot, and a lot of people don’t know what they’re doing. Instead of receiving free cookies from kindly women who we wish were our grandmothers, we steal food. There is a monitor at the door to stop us from doing exactly that, so we have to be sneaky and hide it under our clothes. Not as easy as it sounds, but you know you’ve gotten good when you can smuggle out pieces of cake, bowls of soup, and complete dining sets. My friend claims she got an entire pie once, but I’m not sure I believe her, as a TRUE friend would have given me pie.

Finally: the awkward seating issues! Definitely the worst part about college cafeterias. In high school, everyone goes to lunch at once. I could get a table, find a friend or two, and never venture from my specially allotted chair. Here, the dining hall is open for several hours, and you come and go as you wish. This poses several problems, namely the lack of routine. Three ways to go about this: you can talk to people ahead of time and make plans, but this can seem desperate and I wouldn’t recommend doing it for every meal. Option two: Cross your fingers, go alone, and pray to the flying spaghetti monster above that you find someone to eat with. Most people do this, and its almost always effective. However, if you can’t find someone, you can either introduce yourself to an entirely unknown table (effectively dubbing yourself a creeper), or sit alone (and endure surprisingly vivid flashbacks to when you were a high school freshman). Your final option is takeout! You get charged from your meal plan, and the food is mediocre at best, but all awkwardness is averted.

Ginger’s Song of the Week: Don’t be fooled by the pop-up ad—THIS is Ok Go’s (or the “treadmill band”) new release. It is SO CATCHY! I’ve been listening to it nonstop for the past two weeks, and the new music video was released on Monday. I miss my dog...

How does your caf measure up to Ginger's?

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Topics: sparkler posts, cafeterias, work study, life according to ginger, college life

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