After working in the dining hall for the entire year, I have found the key to making people happy…
It sounds simple enough, and it is. Whether they are baked, fried, chopped, grilled, or the million other ways to serve potatoes, that is what the people want. Today’s potatoes were hash browns. As soon as we ran out, everyone knew. “How much longer?” they would ask over and over. As soon as the words, “Five to ten minutes,” left my mouth, I was the most hated person in the cafeteria. Was I cooking the food? Did I have any control over the potatoes? Not in the slightest; I was simply putting the food onto their plates. Yet these people chose to place the blame on me. I was the cause of the potato famine. So they would respond, “Oh… I guess I’ll take extra eggs/a piece of quiche/etc.”
A few weeks ago, I actually had a few boys stand there for ten minutes in front of the line, just waiting for the potatoes. (That day was tater tot day, by far the worst of the potato varieties we serve, nutritionally and demand-wise.) Awkwardly, I continued to serve people behind them who were content with coming back later for their tots.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for sweet potatoes. Sweet potato fries are one of my guilty pleasures (I had some this weekend!). I also love a great baked potato every once in a while. Unfortunately what people in the dining hall don’t understand is that we serve over 1400 people in the short period between 10:30-2. Sure, it would be nice if it was a constant stream of people; the cooks might be able to keep up. The grill can only handle so many hash browns when everyone saunters between noon and one, looking for the food to “cure” their hangover (eggs), and the food to cure their taste buds (potatoes).
I can only continue to serve these people will a smile on my face, and hope that nobody stampedes the kitchen in search of the potatoes (that I’m probably hiding somewhere for myself).