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That’s (Coffee) Grounds For Grumpiness

, , , , , , | Working | November 15, 2023

I’ve told a few cafeteria stories here. This morning, I went in for my oatmeal. They had it. It’s about all they had, so I felt lucky. But the coffee was empty! That’s at least a third of the motivation for using a meal swipe.

Me: “Excuse me, miss, is some one available to start some coffee?”

The employee turned to consult with a student worker.

Student: “What? Seriously? I just made some!”

He made me show him that it was fully empty. He took the thing out that holds the grounds.

Student: “I’ll have some more going, don’t worry.”

I felt lucky that I would be getting coffee. It has been drinkable in the mornings lately.

I came back over a few minutes later.

Student: “It should be good to go now.”

I made two mugs because the area was closing for the morning.

It was not worth drinking. Technically, it was drinkable if my life depended on it. They’ve served worse. But it was just water and grounds, as if he had just used the old grounds.

I had to sneak past the guy to the dish area with my two full mugs of brown water because I didn’t want him to feel bad.

At lunch, one of the career workers was talking to me, and I mentioned it.

Worker: “Yeah, that’s probably exactly what happened, honestly. They don’t train anyone anymore. And we are really short-staffed, so the students often just have to guess how they are meant to do things.”

Me: “That’s really unfair to them. I’ve been in that situation, and I hated it.”

Worker: “I agree. It’s awful. I do have to wonder about some of these guys, though. I guess I can’t assume it is common sense that one would have to put in new coffee grounds to make a new pot of coffee. He should have been trained. But…”

Me: “That would be critical thinking. But that can be hard if someone is tired. At my first coffee shop job, I wasn’t trained, and when closing one night, I was told to do the dishes. I didn’t know about the dishwasher, so I just did them by hand. It can be hard to know which decisions are dumb.”

Worker: *Laughs* “Fair enough!”

I can’t get the memory of the brown water out of my mouth, so I hope he gets trained. At least the oatmeal was good. That’s all that matters.

Sometimes You Get To A Spork In The Road…

, , , | Right | November 7, 2023

Customer: “Where are your utensils?”

Me: “They’re right in front of you, ma’am.”

Customer: “I mean your real utensils?”

Me: “What do you mean, ma’am?”

Customer: *Suddenly angry* “I will not use a spork! The spork is ‘the devil’s utensil’ because it is the amalgamation of the masculine fork and the feminine spoon and is trying to blur gender lines in society.”

Me: “We have… uh… non-gender-fluid utensils right there, ma’am.”

I point to the good ol’ plastic knife and fork dispensers to the left of her.

Customer: *Suddenly happy and all smiles* “Ah! Much better! Much more godly!”

And off she went with her salad and godly utensils…

A Good Attitude Makes The Oatmeal Go Down Easier

, , , , , , | Working | September 18, 2023

I’m an undergrad, living in the university dorm. We are required to pay far too much for dining hall food, so I’m there a lot to get my money’s worth. The dining hall is terrible — chronically understaffed, spoiled food, etc. I could go on, but that’s not the point of this story.

A young lady was working the brunch rush on her own, and I hadn’t seen her before. She was being more diligent than most, maybe because she wasn’t yet resigned to the futility of effort in a place that sets you up to fail.

I looked at the overly dry, crusty, congealed oatmeal. (Yes, I’m the person who relies on oatmeal. I’m autistic, so the lack of texture and the sameness allow me to eat.) My wrist hurt due to a chronic disease, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to scoop it.

I’ll call the student worker Angel here.

Me: “Excuse me. Would you be able to mix some hot water into this?”

Angel: “Oh, sorry, could you repeat that? What about hot water?”

Me: “Oh, actually, you’re too busy… Would you mind scooping some oatmeal in my bowl? My wrists hurt.”

Angel: “Sure!” *Does so* “What was the hot water for?”

Me: “The oatmeal dries out, so they mix in hot water. But I’m adding oat milk, so this is perfect.”

Angel: “Okay. Let me know if you need anything else!”

I returned a few minutes later, and she was still the only worker in sight.

Me: “Excuse me, um, are there any other workers around? You are really busy, but I want to ask someone to make coffee.”

She looked around helplessly and told me she’d try to find someone. I sat down to eat. Sometime later, to my surprise, she came to find me in the dining room.

Angel: “Did you still need help with coffee? What kind did you want? I’ll go get it if you tell me how you take it.”

Me: “Oh, I can get it myself. It’s just that it was empty. Well, I think only the regular was empty.”

Angel: “OH! Oh, we are out of coffee. Okay.”

The consideration to help me without prying as to what my medical condition was, and going above and beyond to try and take my coffee order while she single-handedly ran a cafeteria at, like, eighteen blew me away. 

I went to go ask her name and ask what she liked from the student store so I could get her something. She expected me to complain about the wait for coffee and was totally thrown off.

She was so flattered and pleased that I appreciated her, and she told me my words were more than enough. Her whole body language changed, which was very rewarding to see. Now I know her name, though, and can say hi when I see her!

Who Peed In Her Uncooked Oats?

Who Peed In Her Uncooked Oats?

, , , , , , | Learning | June 26, 2023

It’s Tuesday of finals week at my university. I live in the dorm, and every morning, I go to the dining hall to eat oatmeal.

I walk up to see someone scraping up the last half scoop. There is still half an hour left of breakfast.

Student Worker: “There is no more oatmeal.”

I look up to see a student worker shift lead.

Me: “Is there any more coming?”

Student Worker: “They aren’t making more.”

I mishear.

Me: “They are making more?”

Student Worker: “No more until lunch.”

Me: *Sadly looking down* “But there is never oatmeal at lunch.”

Student Worker: “What?”

Me: “Lunch never has oatmeal.”

She sighs and walks away, so I shuffle away, unsure what to do next. A “career” worker I’m friends with approaches to ask if I’ll be around over the summer, and then she asks what’s wrong. I tell her there is no oatmeal, and she cranes over the salad bar to look at the clock.

“Career” Worker: “Nuh-uh. That’s not okay. They shouldn’t be saying no; it’s still breakfast. I’ll go see.”

Me: “If I had dry oats, I could add hot water.”

She checks the hot storage and then heads to the back, while I stand there wondering what I’ve gotten myself into. [Student Worker] dramatically rolls her eyes while walking past me at about this time, which I assume is about something unrelated.

A few minutes later, [Student Worker] approaches me, claps her hands, and enthusiastically says:

Student Worker: “So, they are going to make a special batch of oatmeal, just. For. You!”

I get really excited and just say, “Yay!” Then, she continues.

Student Worker: “YOU’RE SO SPECIAL!

I start to realize she might be upset about it, rather than sincere. But at that moment, my friend walks out with a bowl of dry oats — not even the quick oat kind. I thank her and look right into the student worker’s eyes.

Me: “These oats are dry. I’m going to put hot water on them.”

She was understandably speechless when I walked off, not because I was clever or scathing, but because what would you even say to that?

I went and sat at a table next to a friend with my hot water and dry oat soup, and I told her what had happened.

Apparently, [Student Worker] had been capricious to her, too! That same morning, my friend was trying to use the juice dispenser, and it wasn’t working. [Student Worker] walked up next to my friend and very slowly filled a cup with every working type of juice so my friend had to wait. My friend had thought she was maybe just oblivious but had hoped it was on purpose just because it was funny to be messed with so arbitrarily like that.

We started laughing so hard. The girl was being so aggressive for no reason, and it was just funny. Imagine being so salty about oatmeal and juice that you lash out like that.

I pointed out that it must be rough having to work during finals week, serving all these students who don’t have to work in the morning. For the sake of everyone around her, I hope her day gets better.

At the very least, I hope her overt passive-aggression brings her as much amusement today as it brought me.

Oh, and my oatmeal was sort of edible by the time breakfast closed, so I was shoveling some unseasoned bites in as we were kicked out. This literally just happened, so if there actually is oatmeal at lunch today for the first time ever, I’ll have to update you.

“Where’s The Beef?” Has An Obvious Answer

, , | Right | May 25, 2023

I worked at a cafeteria at my college about thirteen years ago, long before vegan items were very popular. We had several dishes with their names on display.

A girl walked up and pointed at the beef stroganoff.

Girl: “Does this have meat in it?”

Me: “You’re asking if there’s meat in the beef stroganoff?”

Girl: “Yeah! Well, is there or not?”

I was too stunned to do much other than say, “Yes, there’s beef in the beef stroganoff.”