As you walk into the meal hall you’re greeted by the warm and friendly smiles of the employees and the beep of your student ID. After taking a few steps across the floor, however, your contentedness disintegrates as you look at the miserable food options.
Welcome to the Flavour Market™
Lifting a plate from a pile of dishes, you come to the slow and daunting realization that the bottom of the plate has some soft, squishy food stuck to it: Remnants from the dishwasher. Your face, with your eyebrows raised and your mouth half open in disgust, expresses precisely what you verbalize: Ew.
You pick another plate and move along. You’re trying desperately to forget the leftover food-stuck-to-plate situation, but you’re still a little scarred.
You walk to the salad bar, to centre stage, to the pizza section, the pasta area and the grill. To have or not to have pasta again, that is the question.
You stack your plate with God knows what and remember dozens of prisoners are eating food similar to your’s right now. Aramark is a food provider for prisons in the U.S. and Canada and has had reports of maggots in their food. Comforting.
Much to your relief, the hot chocolate machine is working. It’s a good day.
Out of the corner of your eye, you see smol Trump-coloured oranges, resting in a basket on the counter. As the only fruit there, they’re a tempting option to your fruit-deprived body. But they look rotten and bruised, so you’ll pass this time.
Now it’s time to choose a table. You look around for a familiar face. There’s a long table of Holy Crossers to your right talking about nerd things, presumably. There’s a group of Harrington boys to your left who are talking about getting drunk later tonight (it’s Wednesday). There are some Vaniers laughing and clearly having a good time. There are some Rigby and Chatham people as well, who came for the extra options available at the upper-campus meal hall and stayed for the conversation.
There are some faces you have never seen before. Do they even go here? Or are they eating here for fun? If so, why are they doing this to themselves?
It’s kind of like you’re Cady Heron from Mean Girls and have to decide which clique to sit with for lunch.
It’s a critical decision, no doubt. Good luck.
Where you sit will shape your interactions for the next half hour at least. The ability to have pleasurable interactions, form long-lasting bonds and partake in non-sketchy conversation is entirely up to you. The world is your oyster (oysters, however, are not served at the cafeteria to the knowledge of this writer). If you end up making the wrong decision, you can always shovel down your entire plate of food in less than five minutes, lie about a paper or some other preoccupation and dash out of there faster than a frat boy downing a beer.
If you choose the right spot, you may end up passing several hours drunk on coffee and high on the feeling of actually having friends (a truly remarkable and incomparable feeling). The hours in meal hall pass quickly when you’re in good company. Before you know it, the staff are rolling the doors to the proclaimed “flavour market” shut and a quick glance at your phone will tell you that you have been there far longer than you intended.
And then it dawns on you.
You have a paper due tomorrow morning and you haven’t started it yet.