Author: Henry Carr
After my first week at Occidental eating strictly Marketplace meals and In-N-Out, I was more than a little excited to get a chance to check out the much-hyped “Tiger Cooler.” For days I waited to enter this promised land of snacks, wondering why the “Cooler” seemed to close down everyday at such suspiciously early hours. What a clever marketing tactic. My anticipation was through the roof.
The first night I found the “alternate” dining hall to be open, I didn’t plan on waiting a second to get my hands on some new grub. Sadly, that was not going to be an option. The Tiger Cooler, I found, is not a very friendly place at peak hours. I am not referring to the staff itself, mind you. I found all the employees there to be extremely kind and helpful. But between the swarming, hungry crowds and constant loudspeaker harassment, I felt like I was playing bingo in the middle of a carnival.
I squeezed my way through the crowds to one counter, where I ordered a smoothie and grabbed a slice of pizza. And then waited in line for 10 minutes to pay for them. Everything’s painfully squeezed together inside the kitchen, allowing for only two registers, and thus, a long, slow line. It makes little sense that there’s so much unused space in the main room and yet none whatsoever inside the kitchen itself.
When I finally did get to pay for my meal, I turned to go find a place to sit and enjoy it. The person in front of me picking up their burger had a similar idea, however, and swung their elbow right into my strawberry smoothie. All I could do was look down in frustration and shame. The owner of the offending elbow made a quick exit, leaving me straddling an oozing mess of strawberry smoothie, looking about as stupid as I felt. This was not the “Cooler” experience I was hoping for.
Okay, the pizza is pretty tasty. And the burgers are good, too. The chefs certainly do a fine job, but was this really the best layout we could get? A snack bar should be quick and painless, and yet a trip to the Cooler often feels quite the opposite. Even after escaping the stranglehold of the kitchen, it is impossible to escape the ever-bellowing loudspeaker system. Numbers echo through the air like Thor’s Hammer, striking down on unsuspecting students. Well, maybe not with quite that violence, but the atmosphere is still anything but peaceful. “81!” “46!” “25!” Can I get my food yet? Or does that cute little tiger cub mean no?
Everyone gets a number when they place their order, and in some ways, that’s indicative of the entire Cooler experience. For a short period of time, you really do feel like just a number.
Henry Carr is an undeclared first year. He can be reached at [email protected]
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