All I want is food, not attitude

Her eyes roll and gums smack as she flips her candy-colored hair to the side and prepares to take yet another order from a frustrated student. I’m pretty sure I ran into her at the Moon last week, but that might be the girl making breadsticks. She seems frustrated with me, maybe with life in general, and she makes her dissatisfaction well-known. Instead of a friendly “Hi, can I take your order?” it’s a nasty “What you want!?”

This isn’t a scene from a bad reality show. It’s a typical attitude-filled trip to the cafe for a late-night snack.

As I made my way to the front of the line, I created a short script in my head. I thought choosing my words carefully could help me avoid any venom from the woman behind the counter. I was mistaken.

What appeared to be a simple, clear order produced the type of reaction that was better suited for an episode of Springer than a cafeteria line.

Before I go into a colorful rant against all cafeteria workers, let me start by saying that over the past two years I have been serviced by some very friendly, hard-working people at Florida A&M’s eateries. Unfortunately, these positive interactions are about as common as getting a net check on time.

Most trips for food on campus are tests of patience. The thought runs through my head “How bad do I really want a pepperoni pizza?” and it shouldn’t have to. Not only do students pay for food with meal plans, cash and whatever change they can scratch together from friends and roommates, they are actually responsible for the structure in which they are subjected to this abuse.

If not for student funding, there would be no subway line in which to get cussed out.

According to, the mandatory university meal plans for students residing in on-campus housing for the 2010-2011 school year cost $1, 822 per semester. This does not include whatever funds were used in the actual construction of the building.

University employees should keep this in mind as they interact with students on a day-to-day basis.

Students also have to hold up their end of the deal with the same type of respectful behavior they demand from the men and women who work hard everyday to serve them. Cafeteria workers are some of the lowest-paid workers in the university system, and the work they do can seem unbearable when faced with unruly customers.

Overall respect and professionalism from both sides of the register has the potential to improve the atmosphere of campus dining and prevent unnecessary confrontations that center on attitude problems.

After all, it is understandable that after serving 100 KFC Snackers workers are tired. What is not okay is when they take out any personal frustrations they may have on unsuspecting students.

Part of being an adult is leaving whatever personal issues one has at home and often requires “putting on a face” just to keep that bad vibe from transferring into the workplace. It’s something we all have to cope with.

The worker I dealt with simply needed to grow up and stop taking out whatever personal frustrations she may have had on customers.

Everyone has bad days, but if not even the best Philly cheese steak can remove that scowl by the time a student steps up to the register then it’s time to fake it. Sometimes the ultimate test of people’s ability to do their job is to shut up, smile and put a fork in it.