We’ve All Been There: Navigating The Cafeteria

"Wait... that's CHICKEN?"

You’ve finished your three classes for the day, you spent an hour catching up on reading in the library and you sweat through 45 minutes on the elliptical. Now its 6:00 and you’re starving.  You know you should shower, but with only 30 minutes until the cafeteria closes, you throw on some dry sweats, grab some hall mates and run down to dinner.

You swipe your meal card, grab a tray and make your way down the line of dinner options. Your stomach growls as the smell of hot food wafts towards you. You’re so hungry you’ll eat anything. Or so you think.

As you make your way down the first row of food you grow nauseous. The platters are full of something brown and sloppy.

“Is that beef?” You think to yourself as you lean in to get a closer look. You read the card taped to the glass above it.

“BBQ chicken” it says.

There is no way in hell you’re going to eat anything that unrecognizable so you move on. Next there are soggy vegetables soaked in oil, something yellow and runny that the hair-net-wearing burly man (or maybe woman?) tells you are mashed potatoes and a vegetarian option that you swear you saw in the toilet after you drank too much on Sunday…

Unable to stomach any of the above you weigh your other options. You could go with the salad bar – again – but you know a plate full of vegetables is not going to do much for your empty stomach. Plus, isn’t lettuce supposed to be green?

Your stomach starts rumbling again and, running out of time, you decide to go with the only appetizing option left in the entire cafeteria: the Belgian waffle maker. You know it’s not healthy, but what else are you supposed to do – not eat? You promise yourself you’ll grab some fruit to go with it and get in line behind the other 8 people who couldn’t stomach the hot food.

After one failed attempt involving a little too much batter that spilled over the sides and dripped onto your furry slippers (“WTF? Why do they make the ladle so big?!”) you pull your perfectly browned waffle out of the iron (burning your fingers in the process), pour a little syrup on it and head over to your friends. Only on your way to the table where the girls are unhappily chomping away on plates of salad you spot the dessert bar. It’s filled with brownies and mini cups of banana pudding (with wafers!), all making you drool. Next to it, a student fills a bowl with rich, creamy frozen yogurt before drowning the dish in sprinkles and whipped cream.

You try to fight it (“Who eats dessert before 7pm!?”) but your stomach eventually makes the decision for you and you stop, put your tray down and grab a bowl. You feel a little guilty as you layer brownies and ice cream and sprinkles, but you remind yourself of your good workout and how you wouldn’t be doing this if the main courses didn’t look like dog poo. Then you take your waffle, apple and bowl of creamy goodness and sit down with your friends to dig into your “dinner.”

On your way out, you grab another brownie (and an apple) for later. “It’s not like this meal is gonna fill me up until bedtime,” you reason.

Yeah, we’ve all been there.
And now we know exactly where that Freshman 15 comes from.

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