The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

88° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

Newsletter

Doing Away With All The Lines

Doing Away with Lines

Not too long ago, I stood in line at the SAC to order dinner. I knew ahead of time what I was going to get, but the SAC is one of the few places where making up your mind early will not serve you well. If anything, it will drive you mad. My initial experiences with ordering hot lunches and dinners from the SAC were not so bad, but it hardly helps to have a tyro’s perspective on things. I’ll even grant that my freshman-year experience of ordering food at the SAC was mildly pleasant. But this year there’s been, it seems to me, a deterioration in quality of service. The lines are longer, the meals are more sloppily prepared, and the atmosphere is more congested. So when I waited in line at Charcoal Grill a few days ago, I had no illusions about the time it would take for my order to be fulfilled. By the time the three people ahead of me had placed their orders, ten minutes had passed. I anticipated that in the next five to ten minutes, one of the chefs would ask to take my order. Five minutes passed, then ten. The last person to order had still not received her dinner, and I was running out of patience. Now a rational person would have realized that the time wasted standing in line is a sunk cost, and would have probably abandoned her post to fix a salad or fetch some fruits, but I was determined to hold out until the end. Another ten minutes passed before a chef raised his eyes to mine and repeated my request for a grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes.

To stand in line for thirty minutes behind thirty or even ten people is understandable, but to be next-in-line for twenty minutes is grossly iniquitous. While I waited and glared at the incompetent chefs, they idly checked their phones, disposed of garbage and – with the same gloved hands, no less – prepared burgers that nobody had ordered, as if they had all the time in the world. One chef, who had been hurriedly flipping patties, managed to drop a pair of tongs in the space between the grill and adjacent counter when he hit it against the grill in an attempt to dislodge it of burnt scraps.

It is infuriating even for the most placid person to wait in line while chefs ignore her presence and busily scramble about labeling boxes and preparing burgers for people who may not have even entered the SAC. What impels the chefs to such erratic behavior? If their intent is to create shorter lines, it is ironic that they have succeeded only in creating torturous ones. If their aim is to please students by providing an assortment of ready-made burgers, their reasoning is indubitably perverse. Some students will settle for anything that is available, but in this case, the chefs will receive neither thanks nor rebuke as their efforts go unacknowledged. When confronted with a line of customers, however, they set themselves up to be disparaged by avoiding eye contact until they finally purpose to resume their task of serving hungry, in the flesh students. Only rarely will a chef serve you in a timely fashion.

There is a very simple solution to the problem I’ve expounded upon. In places where students typically stand in long lines (e.g. Wrap it Up, Charcoal), they can write their specific requests on a sign-up sheet. That way, chefs know exactly what to prepare and in what order, and students are not bound to wait in lines to voice their requests. With the sign-up sheet scheme, chefs can efficiently prepare meals without ever forgetting what each person ordered, and a cursory glance at the sheet would inform them of the quantity demanded of each type of burger and thus, how many to prepare. Another method is for students to write their orders on sticky notes, which chefs could then peel off and stick on boxes. An alternative to this is for students to label boxes themselves and place them in a line. Either way, chefs would not have to waste time scribbling cryptic annotations on boxes, which cashiers often have a hard time deciphering. Besides, chefs would ideally devote all their time to preparing food, and refrain from touching waste, writing utensils and other inedible material.

But if none of my plans for creating more efficiency in the SAC is actually adopted, there are still other ways of reducing students’ wait-time. All viable plans will hinge on a reprioritization of cooking tasks; the chefs need to realize that it is their charge, first and foremost, to attend to the requests of students who are physically in line and then prepare burgers that are destined to turn cold. And if they are so overwhelmed with requests that they are unable to prepare turkey burgers and double cheeseburgers for anticipated customers, why, that is not such a bad thing. Those who would have opted for ready-made burgers will simply have to wait in line like everyone else. But even this situation can be avoided if chefs plan to satisfy only real requests, which, this writer believes, is no great thing to ask.

View Comments (2)
Donate to The Statesman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Statesman

Comments (2)

All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • P

    PleasedNov 13, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Wow, Charcoal Grill actually recently implemented use of sign-up sheets!

    Reply
  • A

    an economist's viewOct 22, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Short of redesigning the inadequately designed space (you’d think stony brook has an architecture school, that’s how nonsensical it is) they should raise prices. Demand is obviously too high (the food is crappy anyway) so prices should reflect that.

    Reply