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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Kvetching about dining hall etiquette

We’re two Jews and we like to complain. In our culture, we call it kvetching. You can kvetch about silly things, like cold Matzo ball soup. Or you can kvetch about serious things that should really change, like a total overhaul of the Proctor Dining Hall heating system. In this weekly column, we’re going to try and keep it light and complain about the little things that, if changed, could make Midd students’ lives just a bit easier. We’ll leave the big issues to the Editorial Board and kvetch about the small ones. 

If there’s one thing these two kvetchers have been getting their latkes burnt about since coming back this fall, it’s the obvious misunderstanding of how to navigate the dining halls by new students, or second year students who are used to last year’s Covid-adjusted dining hall flows. We can’t even count how many times we’ve been stuck behind some putz who seems to think that serving tater tots onto their plate should be done one by one, barrel-shaped latke after barrel-shaped latke. There also seem to be a number of folks who lack the chutzpah to stick their cups under their preferred fountain spout just because someone is using another one on the same machine. While lines and wait times have always been a part of the dining hall experience, these student habits are making dining hall visits longer than an Orthodox seder. Is this your first buffet experience? We’re guessing by your Canada Goose jacket that this is not your first all-inclusive experience and although this may not be a Club Med in Puerto Vallarta, we’re sure your lack of scooping expertise is not the reason you didn’t get into Dartmouth and ended up at Club Midd instead. No being a putz in line! Scoop like your life depends on it! 

Slow scooping aside, there is another key blunder that we are seeing and hope to change: the total lack of acknowledgement of two lines. We know this is a liberal arts college, but we bet even a dance major can count to two! There are two whole lines in every single dining hall! In Ross? There’s a pasta line and a meat line — if you don’t want meat, just go to the second line. In Proc? There’s two whole lines there too… with the exact same food! And in Atwater, oy vey, in Atwater, if you can’t find the second line, you can forget about finding the afikomen at this spring’s Passover. Come on people, we know that there’s a lot of meshugenah in our lovely little dining halls, but this is elementary stuff. When we walk into that dining hall, all washed up and full of hunger, we need to start noshing as soon as possible or we will kvetch like hell hath no bounds. We have no doubt the lines will continue to be long, we all know the admin has about as much success counting people as you do counting lines, but that doesn’t mean I should have been able to finish my Haftarah by the time I place that first (very full and efficient) scoop on my plate. 

 And last but not least, some new students seem terrified of getting to know the incredible staff that work at our dining halls. If there is one group that is truly flush to the brim with Mensches, it is this fine group of people. They work so hard to put grub in your gullet and we see you walking by them as if they don’t exist. Trust us, it is worth your while to say hi and introduce yourself. You will meet some wonderful people with some great tales. Start with the people who scan you in, and as you progress through the line, held up by those without the ability to function as soon as their butler isn’t bringing them a plate, say hi to the chefs and the other staff. It’s that simple. It’ll make your day, and theirs, a whole lot nicer.