Classes don’t start in my little corner of academia until next week and most of the students are not yet on campus.
But faculty reported for work Monday and there is an energy or vibe on campus that is new and exciting to an employee who first reported for work in June. Many new experiences await. There are hundreds of people to meet, football games and other events to attend.
The campus cafeteria was open Monday so I ambled down the hill for the first time for some lunch. Here is the Cliffs Notes summary of the experience: It would be difficult to find a better lunch for $5 (faculty and staff discounted price, I think) than the Szechuan beef and vegetables prepared for me as I watched. It was quite good.
Praising college food service, however, is a new experience for me. In the fall of 1986, maybe a month or so after arriving 30 years ago as a smart-mouthed freshman, I ran afoul of a soft-spoken and genuinely nice gentleman whom, for today’s purpose, I will call Herman the German. At the time, he was the food service director at my alma mater. And the cafeteria was an easy mark for someone who had been given a chance to make a name for himself on campus by drawing cartoons in the college newspaper.
I don’t remember my first cartoon about the cafeteria or exactly what inspired it. And to be honest, I don’t remember Herman being overly upset about it. His kitchen lieutenant, however, was another story. If memory serves, her name was Roxanne. What I haven’t forgotten is the chewing out she gave me for unfairly criticizing the hard work of everyone on the food service staff.
Looking back, I’m sure Roxanne was correct. Since I knew a lot more then than I do now, her constructive criticisms were largely ignored.
But in my defense I don’t remember the variety of choices then that awaited me Monday. Since I’m no longer a reporter, I did’t count the number of food stations from which I could choose. But in addition to the stir-fry grill from which I ordered, there was also a salad bar and food stations that served pizza, burgers and fries, sandwiches, a daily entree of some sort and a healthy choices food station. There also was a soft-serve ice cream machine and a breakfast bar with waffle machines and at least a dozen different kinds of cereal.
Did I say that all of this was available for $5?
Check back with me in a month or two and maybe I’ll have a familiar-to-me-smart-mouthed opinion of the college’s cafeteria. But Day 1 made a positive impression. Just don’t tell Roxanne or Herman the German.