I think now might be a good time to give some Alliot guidelines, as the dining hall can be one of the most intimidating places on campus when you first walk in. Here are some step by step instructions on how to survive this thrice-daily ritual.
1. Drop your bags. There are no bags allowed in the Green Mountain Dining Room, so at mealtimes students line the walls of Alliot with backpacks, athletic bags, LAX sticks, skis, umbrellas, longboards- anything you can imagine. Don’t be freaked out about leaving your stuff. It’s an honor system that everyone holds to (insert St. Mike’s plug: I think this is one of the greatest examples of what a community our campus really is).
2. Get out your Knight Card and give it to the Alliot worker at the door, typically the notorious Rosemary. Smile at her every time, even if she doesn’t smile at you. Rosemary is a legend.
3. Now you’re heading to the buffet style conundrum that is Alliot dining. On the outside, clockwise starting at the left you will find: Condiments, beverages, the Grill, pizza, juices, toasters (with breads), coffee/lattes/hot chocolate, hard and soft serve ice cream with toppings, the big skillet (eggs in the morning, grilled cheese and burgers at lunch and dinner), a station that usually features some kind of home-style meat and potato dinners (not really sure what it’s called), more beverages, then the vegan station, and on the far right, the Salad station (my favorite). In the middle there is also a make-your-own salad station, various lunchmeats and sandwich materials, a soup and pasta island, a milk and cereal dispenser, and a GIANT desert station. Silverware can be found near the salad station and grills, and spoons are near the soup. I apologize if that was overwhelming.
4. The key to actually acquiring food is to take a quick glance around and choose the best option. Always take a survey before you decide. Last year Alliot went tray-less, and it’s really not as bad as it first appears. It not only saves water in dishwashing, but also keeps people from taking mountains of food and wasting a it all. Don’t worry, you’ll soon master the balancing act of plate, cup, and silverware… and pray that someone else is the unlucky one to spill their dishes to a round of applause from their fellow diners.
5. If you’re with friends, it’s a good idea to meet by the silverware before heading to a table. The worst feeling in the world is standing abandoned in Alliot and staring around at a room full of unrecognizable faces, desperately searching for your friends. Slightly less embarrassing but still terrible is the awkward walk in which you pretend to know where you’re going in the hopes that you will spot your terrible, terrible dinner companions.
6. If you are not with friends, this is a great opportunity to utilize those greeting skills that I talked about in my last post. If you recognize someone, don’t be afraid to sit down, reintroduce yourself, and join in the conversation. I promise promise promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. Likewise, if you do spot some poor soul sitting by him or herself, invite them over! They will forever think of you as the nicest person EVER, and you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
7. After eating your meal, gather your dishes and scrape any leftover food items onto one plate, in preparation for the next step: compost. The dishwashing and composting station is near the front of Alliot to the left. It’s pretty simple- food in the bins, plates and cups on the conveyor belt, silverware down the chutes. Be courteous to the staff in the back and put things neatly where they belong.
8. On the way out of Alliot there’s a suggestion table where students can leave messages and the staff will respond. Let them know what you think, good or bad, and request new items if you have an idea! Also don’t forget to say goodbye to Rosemary!
9. Lastly, grab your bag! It’s really embarrassing to be walking out- or, God forbid, all the way to class- and realize that you’ve forgotten your stuff. Also make sure it’s your own (not kidding, there was a girl in my class last year who realized halfway through class that she had someone else’s bag which was identical to her own).
I know that no matter what your first few meals in Alliot are going to be nerve-wracking, but I promise it gets better. Don’t panic, be courteous, and choose wisely!
ps. Keep a firm grip on that cup, or be prepared for a show! (you’ll see soon enough)