It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these. Today I am perched at a table in North Dining Hall. It’s 1 pm.
– About half of the tables occupied.
– 90% of the students I see are dining with others. I see one girl at a table by herself, laptop open. She appears to be working.
– A flat screen TV on the wall showing highlights from last night’s Super Bowl. The other is showing a talk show (Wendy?).
– An ARAMARK worker walking around making sure that chairs are pushed in and tables are cleared and clean.
– A girl leaning over the guy she is eating with, presumably looking at his phone. I’m playing the ‘are they in a relationship or not?‘ game in my head. They are both sitting on the same side of the table, instead of across from each other. No obvious PDA though.
– A girl unknotting her earbuds, which look like a big tangled mess.
– Funny shaped bowls that the students are eating from. The top rim is not flat across on top, it is slanted at an angle, so it looks sort of artsy. There are big slanted bowls for entrees, small slanted bowls for salads or fruit. The plates are flat 🙂
– A guy in a ballcap (worn backwards) who appears to be having a lively conversation with his lunch companion. He is an expressive talker – hand gestures, great facial expressions. I’m dying to know what he is talking about because he is really charismatic and expressive as he talks. He nods often when his friend is speaking.
– Lots of scarves. It’s cold outside, so a good many of the young women here are wearing them, or have them draped across the backs of their chairs.
– A student carrying a full load of empty plates and cups knocks a mayonnaise container off the table. Instead of just walking away because her hands are full, she stoops over to pick it up and put it back. (Mom and Dad, you raised her right!)
– People are not shy about putting their feet up on unoccupied chairs. They look like they are making themselves at home – and it should feel like home here. Go for it, I say.
– There seems to be a lot of grey and black clothing today. Probably 2/3 of the students within my line of sight have on something grey or black. Lots of yoga/running pants on the girls, lots of sweatshirts. Maybe the overcast weather had something to do with people choosing comfortable and warm clothes.
– One of the students sitting by herself must have just read something funny on her computer, or someone sent her a message that she liked. She has a smile like she has a happy secret. I hope so, anyway.
– People are staying at their tables for a good long while. My overall impression is that students who are eating here in groups are not in any particular hurry. Maybe this will change the closer we get to 2:00, but I have been here a half hour and pretty much everyone is working at a leisurely pace.
– Overheard conversations. Words like “dumb jokes,” “so random,” and “isnt’ it funny?” One of the conversations is in Chinese (disclaimer: I have no idea what they are saying).
– Laughter. During the time I am here, I hear a lot of laughter. Someone has a loud and hearty laugh that echoes through the room from time to time. It may be coming from the “new Pit” area (technically called Hilltop Market).
– A male student coughing. There is one with an icky, gooey sounding cough. Later I hear more of a ‘clear your throat’ kind of male cough.
– The scraping of chairs across the wood floor.
– Two students talking about a class and homework. One is saying she started her homework way too late lastnight.
– The metallic clink of silverware. Shortly followed by the clink of glass. Someone is rattling bottles of Texas Pete over at the condiment station.
– Ambient music being piped in. It’s strummy guitar music, not upbeat peppy pop music. A few songs later, it’s Adele singing “Hello.”
– “See you,” “Bye” and other parting words as they leave.
– A girl talking about a text she’d gotten from someone (it sounds like she likes the texter).
– The sound of a metal fork scraping food off the plastic plate.
– “Darty” [parents, do you know what a darty is? it’s a day party].
– Fried food.
– Something that smells vaguely Asian-food like. Might be soy or ginger sauce.
– It’s definitely a soy or a ginger sauce. A couple people have walked by me while I have been sitting here and when they cross my path and I get a whiff, it smells pretty darn tasty.
– Really comfortable. It’s a grey day outside but the wood in the North Dining Hall is really warm and they did a great job providing lighting that is sort of amber and inviting (not fluorescent and overpowering). The chairs are comfortable too.
– An occasional whiff of wind as people walk by. Occasionally it gets cold, presumably from when the outer doors open and people come and go.
– The last swig of a [blessedly wonderful] Diet Pepsi.
I still never figured out if that one lunch pair is an item or not. I have to get back to my office and can’t watch them leave to see if they hold hands or anything – so it will forever remain a mystery.
— by Betsy Chapman