3.19.2008

Me: 0, Lunch Lady: 1, Crossroads: 10

I do not know anyone who would get as upset about this as me--I had a silent tantrum and I stubbornly refuse to return today out of sheer embarrassment--and I might just have to marry the first cool person who feels the same way. I am also positive this will go down as the story I tell my grandchildren about eating in dining halls.

Don't get me wrong: I love the rules. Whenever I was sent to my room, I would stay the whole night. I was so unnerved by accidentally cheating on a geography quiz in the seventh grade that I confessed before we had even finished. In my first year of college I was accused of academic dishonesty, and despite bearing no fault in the case, I still felt guilty about the professor having suspected me.

But today, the forces were against me. I felt rebellious, I felt hungry, I felt like making the best of one of the most disappointing aspects of my study abroad experience: the food. For the first time since I arrived in the Netherlands (for the first time ever, in fact), I tried to sneak an extra roll past the lunch lady in the cafeteria, because God forbid that after weeks of late nights studying and early class, I was JUST THAT HUNGRY.

She followed me while I made my rounds and only after I approached the counter targeted me and made a big fuss at the rush hour when everyone was trying to get to their tables. Then she sent me home to get my wallet to pay the one euro for the extra roll. I have been sitting here stewing and writing and ignoring my midterms instead.

She kept going on about how "it's too late for sorry" and that "you'll pay for this" as if the degree of satisfaction in her career serving prison food (literally) to several hundred Dutch and international students every day is carefully measured by the guilt trip she can afford on the Example Student Du Jour.

I say "du jour" because there is always one, always someone who gets caught among the entire student population whose standard tray carries far more food than one can reasonably consume in one sitting. If there's one thing that is oversized in the Netherlands, it's the cafeteria trays. And bread loaves and stacks of cheese are piled, PILED on top of soup and sandwich spreads and cucumber slices without question. Just don't take more than one roll.

Technically you are also not allowed to take any food with you when you leave, but enforcement is minimal and often making the gesture of hiding it is enough to get you past the dishwasher dude (as long as you aren't stealing a dish)-- hence the loaves of bread. I am not kidding, there are students with enough food to feed a small African nation on their tray, who if questioned would probably coolly retort, "would you like to watch me eat it?" And mean it.

I am rather bothered that the punishment for this minor infraction of the (ridiculous) rules does not consider that I have missed countless meals on account of not being in town, or not being awake, or whatever. Quality of food aside, it is principally wrong to pay for one instance in which I have more food of one type than I am supposed to when I have missed probably one hundred euro worth of meals.

This is where Crossroads, my beloved Berkeley dining hall, comes in. I never thought "beloved" and "Crossroads" would end up in the same sentence, but they actually make sense. Why? Because, you see, they operate on a point system-- you can use as many as you like in one day, or as few the next, with no consequences. That I miss a meal just means I can swipe a friend in next time. And also they do not cater to San Quentin, meaning the coffee is caffeinated. Win-win!

As much as I don't miss Crossroads, I miss Crossroads.

1 comment:

russeaime said...

Wow completely blown away by the combination of 'love' and 'Crossroads' in the same sentence.

Then again, I always ate at Foothill and nothing beat the late night there.

If you want to see worse food than at UCU, I'll see if I can get you into a British dining hall. They are proud of how awful they are.