Letter to the editor: Ii’s OK to use lunch trays

By on March 26, 2014

Dear Beloved Students,

I have been observing your ways in public for a long time now. Well, probably not “you,” specifically, but you in the general sense. Yet it was only recently pointed out to me that you collectively refuse to use trays in the cafeteria to carry your food.

This is weird and puzzling. Trays are useful devices. They allow you to carry multiple items without spilling or dropping them. They insulate your hands from hot soup containers. Trays provide genuine benefits.

So why do you hate trays?

I asked my current students, and I was told that using a tray makes you appear to be a freshman.  One even said “I really wish I could use a tray.” I’m not sure what’s wrong with being a freshman, precisely, but apparently this freshman-baiting is enough to keep you all having to balance your individual food items using only your hands.

I don’t know exactly what impact I have had on students on other issues, but this one seems easy enough to tackle: I would like to encourage you to be bold, and use the trays if they would make your life easier. I didn’t see a single adult  in the cafeteria today who *wasn’t* using a tray.  Surely some of these adults were considered “cool”  when they were students, and some of them weren’t.  But all had come to the conclusion that using a tray just makes sense.

One of the real joys of getting older is that there comes a point at which you just don’t care if something makes you look uncool.  I can’t pinpoint exactly when this happens for most people, but I’d guess it is sometime after you take your first full-time job.  You’ll have different things to worry about, and seeming cool just won’t rank very highly.

So I’d like to encourage you to jump to that magical endpoint, where you’ll use a tray because it’s helpful.  In fact, when you’re in my phase of life, with two very small children, you’ll learn to hate Panera, who does not offer real trays, and love Ikea, who offers tray *carts* so you can balance everyone’s meals more easily.

Please don’t worry about what it looks like to use a tray.  From my perspective, it’s half comical and half sad that you don’t use them now when you could make your lives a little easier.  Who cares if it makes you look like a freshman?  Though, in fact, you can still care what people think, but if enough of you are willing to do it, all of a sudden, using a tray will look acceptable.  If I could make it look cool for you, myself, I would, but alas, it’ll have to come from you.

I hope to see you using a tray soon,

Prof. Jennifer Sacco

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