(A guest post written by sophomore Ada Santiago)
“We need more scrambled eggs now, and get another platter of pancakes right after that.”
It’s 7:40a.m. I have officially been at work for over two hours, and my day is just getting started. The usual 7:30am students-eating-before-class rush is ten minutes in, and it has yet to slow down. They pile in, two or three at a time, and clear a platter of fried eggs twice as fast as we can make it. No matter how many we squeeze onto one platter, they amazingly manage to consume it all within a matter of two minutes. Literally.
My name is Ada Santiago and I am a student worker spending my lovely Tuesday-Saturday mornings working in Proctor. While I am not a regular eater at any dining hall on campus, during the school year or otherwise, I have gained quite an appreciation for what goes on behind the counter. The day starts at 5:30am, which is also when my shift starts. We go upstairs, me and one full-timer, and we start the hot cereals (always oatmeal, and the other one varies from day to day), and we open at 6:30 for the Language School students. Proctor gets French and Spanish people all day, and Italian and Japanese people in the morning as well. Amazingly, there are always people waiting outside at 6:30. Why? We still don’t know. They’re usually professors, and they usually spend the entire hour and a half before class at 8am in the dining hall for breakfast. We question a lot of things about them; we’ve been told they are very different from the school year students, and we like to compare them to what we know about the regular Middlebury College students. Some differences:
1) Language School people eat more than Middlebury College kids. They are all required to be at their meal times, more specifically lunch, so they figure they may as well eat while they’re there anyway, whereas Midd students have the luxury of being able to skip a meal or two and only really attending dinner if they wanted to. This means that though we’re feeding 800 people a meal during the summer as opposed to 1500 during the school year, we may as well be feeding 1200 at the rate and amount at which they eat.
2) Language School people don’t like the food here as much as Midd students do. They (mainly the professors) tend to give the food a funny look, as if to question it and its sources; sometimes they end up eating it, sometimes they don’t. Midd students will eat the food without question.
3) Language School people ask a lot more questions about the food. For example, “What is this?” is a very common question we get. Even though there’s a sign RIGHT ABOVE said food that lists, not only the name of the food, but every single ingredient in it, right down to the salt and pepper. We often direct them to the signs, only to get puzzled looks in return. Honestly, I cannot sit down and try to explain to you what sautéed squash and zucchini is, sorry if you’re confused.
Perhaps one of the more amusing incidents at Proctor was when a woman walked up to us wanting to order fried eggs, which they often do during breakfast and brunch time. The woman was from the Spanish School and wasn’t familiar with American terms such as, “sunny-side up.” Therefore, she proceeded to ask me for eggs that were, “um, how do you say in English, eh, con el sol arriba? (with the sun up)”. It was very endearing, and I luckily understood what she meant and explained to her what she wanted, and how to say it. She’s now a regular, and can ask for a sunny-side-up egg. In English.
Overall, working in Proctor is pretty rewarding. You get to see how fresh the food all is, and how it’s made and where it comes from, and why the lines aren’t always full when you need them to be (be patient with us, yeah?). I will most probably return to Proctor to work in the fall, so drop by and say hi on your daily visits to Proctor. Also, say thank you to the workers, whether they are refilling the salad bar, the hamburgers, or just wiping down the counters. It’s nice to hear that people appreciate what we do.