When a large herd of people all share a dining hall, they also share the struggles that come along with it and often react to them in similar ways. Through some aggressive people-watching and my own experiences as a dining hall frequenter, I have compiled a list of the most common things people have done at these campus hotspots.
1. Waiting around at the toaster.
You have tidily placed two slices of bread into the slots of one of the available toasters. There are three to five minutes in which your bread will remain trapped between the slots until it is scorched enough to be edible. It is very difficult to decide what to do during this seemingly endless and awkward stretch of time. If you stay and stare at the toaster you will be labeled a “bread watcher” who fears that a stranger will take their charred bread and replace it with their own bagel that has sloppily been sliced down the middle. If you leave your toast unattended you will be criticized for treating your breakfast with reckless abandon. So you awkwardly hover between the toaster and your seat, praying that your toast will surface sooner rather than later.
2. Watching the server not give you a big enough helping.
You feel as though your faith in humanity has been restored as you watch the server give the boy in front of you a hearty helping of that one meal you have been looking forward to all day. When you approach the counter you smile politely and say, “I’ll have everything please!” with a genuine enthusiasm. After looking at you a moment, the server fills your plate with a miniscule helping and sends you on your way. Where did you go wrong? Was your enthusiasm unsettling? Does the server know that this is the third time you have gotten a quesadilla within the last day and a half?
3. Stealing things.
Don’t pretend that you haven’t done it. Most everyone has slid through the door looking lumpy because their jackets are stuffed with miscellaneous bananas and Ziploc baggies stuffed with bagels and breakfast cereal. You can also opt to graduate to the next level of thievery by swiping larger items like dishes, cups and napkin dispensers. One day in the near future, you will be able to open the cupboard of your apartment to reveal a full set of black plastic bowls and plates along with a collection of cloudy cups. Instead of tissue boxes, your shelves will be lined with containers of rough, brown paper napkins.
4. Having to face the prospect of sitting with a stranger or acquaintance when every table is full.
You have walked several laps around the dining hall looking for an unoccupied table but there are none to be found. You scan the crowds in search of a familiar face. You spy the acquaintance who asked you why you always look so tired all of the time. At the next table you spot the peer who insulted your taste in music. In the end you decide to sit with an awkward-looking total stranger at a table that has a severely damaged leg. Just as you are questioning whether you have made the right decision, the table tilts and your apple rolls onto the floor. Your question has been answered.