Five Senses of the Benson Food Court

Today is another beautiful sunny day in a long string of beautiful sunny days.  It’s in the high 80s today, which made my walk across campus to the Benson Center a little warmer than I would like.  Following a meeting in Benson, I went up to the food court area to sit down for one of our “Five Senses” blog posts.

Here’s what you might have experienced had you shared my table in the food court around 11 am.

I see…

– two female students greet each other with a hug, presumably the first time they’d seen each other since coming back to campus (given their delighted reaction).

– a line forming at the make-to-order salad bar.  (It was the most popular eating choice during the time I was there observing.)

– about 1/3 of the food court tables filled.  Most of the tables have 2-4 students at them, and they are eating and chatting.  Maybe 3 of the occupied tables have only one student, with laptop open.

– lots of summery clothes – shorts and t-shirts, sundresses.  A few of the female students are in workout clothes and glistening as if they were fresh from exercise.   Many of our young men are in t-shirts and casual shorts (either athletic or khaki).  A couple of them are in button down plaid shirts and khaki-type shorts in colors other than tan. (They look exceedingly presentable, these young men.)

– bags with the Chick-fil-A logo or Moe’s logo on it.  Most of the seated eaters have chosen one of those two eateries.

– a narrow-ish variety of shoe styles.  A fair number of students are wearing flip flops (men and women), and several women are wearing gladiator sandals, which must mean they are still in style.  Most of the sneakers students are wearing look fairly new – not yet dirty or worn down the way well-used running shoes get.

– lots of clean shaven young men.  Nearly all of our male students here appear to be freshly shaved.  A couple of them are sporting light stubble, and only one with a full beard.

– one student who is standing up in front of a table of four or five male and female students.  This guy is imitating some sort of dance move to the friends, making a couple of wide, side-lunging steps to the right (and then back into place).  There’s an arm movement thing he’s doing too – elbows and forearms.  I have to hand it to this guy, he has a ton of confidence to be doing this in the middle of the Benson Center.  More power to him.

– a couple of Campus Dining managers checking out the scene, presumably to make sure lines are  moving and students are enjoying the food.

– several young men with baseball caps come and go during my time there.  Maybe 4 of them have worn their caps on backwards, and maybe 2 have worn them the regular way.

– dance demonstrator guy move to a different table to say hello to some other friends after his original table has left.  I am assuming he’s a strong extrovert.

– lots of smiling faces at tables and as people pass friends.  Too early in the semester for too many students to feel a lot of stress.


I hear…

– snippets from one young woman in a nearby conversation, something akin to: oh my God, I haven’t seen you for so long!!  are you rushing?  I am so glad, you should come out with us!

– ice hitting empty cups as students go to the soda machines.

– the rhythmic CHOP-CHOP-CHOP of the salads being chopped at the custom salad station.

– sizzling of food hitting the grills to be cooked.

– scooting of chairs across the floor as people pull out chairs to sit down/push them in as they leave.

– the rolling of a food prep cart through the middle of the food court.

– crinkling of paper bags being opened.

– the signature ‘click’ noise that is made as you first touch your cup to a soda machine lever to get it to dispense.

– “Welcome to Moe’s!” being yelled by the Moe’s staff.  Interestingly, I did not hear that until well into my time in Benson.

– metal pots banging.

– jingling of keys.

– a metal on metal sound that I would bet is the spatula going under burgers on the grill, just before the cook flips them.

– the noise gets louder and louder the closer I get to 11:30.  I am no longer able to hear snatches of individual conversations, rather it is more of a generic buzz or hum.

– laughter.


I smell –

– fried food.  It is really the only thing I smell, actually.  I think Chick-fil-A’s fried aroma is so strong it’s drowns out all the other smells.


I feel – 

– happiness.  It is a warm day.  Students look good, no conflicts or problems are evident in the folks that I can see.  They all seem like they are enjoying themselves, which makes me happy.

– a little wistfulness that I’d like to be 18 or 19 with so much less responsibility than I have in my mid 40s 🙂  And wishing my own dearest Wake friends could come back here with me.


That’s all she wrote, Deac families.  I suppose I should call this the Four Senses of Benson because I didn’t eat or drink anything, despite the variety of things I could have purchased there.  You’ll have to use your imaginations for that last sense.

Hope this gave you a feel for what campus felt like in this distinct moment in time.



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