Food and forced convenience

Sept. 15, 2014

Adam Farley
afarley@uccs.edu

Early in my UCCS career I was explicitly told by one of my professors: DO NOT buy books from the campus bookstore.

He went on to explain that the bookstore is a “profit center” for the university and that, unless we enjoy throwing away money, we should find our books elsewhere.

This was devastating to the assumptions I had been holding about higher education. It was like finding out that some cops are corrupt or that our parents are just people – fallible and bonkers like everyone else.

He was suggesting that the institution, to which I’m already paying thousands of dollars to educate me, is mandating that I purchase books (some of which were written by faculty members at said university) that they have marked up significantly so that they can make even more money off of me.

After spending the rest of the class mourning my own naiveté and feeling like an idiot for having bought the book before coming to the first class, I thought I could use a drink.

Being that it was mid-morning, I opted for brunch instead.

I wandered over to what was formerly known as Jazzman’s, and picked up a juice and an egg and sausage muffin sandwich. $10. I begrudgingly handed over the money, but all I could think was “How did I end up in the airport food court?”

Once, on my way to work, I saw a man in Greeley at a gas station standing outside wearing a t-shirt in a blizzard. Because I am a sucker for human suffering, I offered help and a ride and he got in my car explaining how his car had broken down and he was trying to get a tow to reach his pregnant wife.

Before I knew it I had given the guy $140, and dropped him off back at the gas station again so he could pay for his tow. As I drove back down the road toward Denver, I noticed there were no cars on the side of the road. I called the tow company he mentioned and they had no requests.

I had been taken – straight up hornswoggled.

The feeling of utter stupidity paled in comparison to the feelings of disappointment that there are people out there who would manufacture such scenarios in which they can exploit other people’s kindness and naiveté for profit.

Buying juice and an egg sandwich at Jazzman’s felt a lot like handing that man $140. At first it felt like helping someone, doing a good deed and supporting my higher education institution of choice.

But the sandwich was expensive, the muffin hard and the sausage bland. The oily American cheese stuck to my teeth and reminded me of the awful “government” cheese served in so many sub-par public school cafeterias of yesteryear.

The Lodge was the same story with different characters. It’s since been renovated and, as we know, food outlets on campus are now under the management of the university and staffed by students.

But a trip last week to Clyde’s, arguably the premier place to eat on campus, revealed little else has changed. The one server on duty was totally overwhelmed by the number of patrons and undertrained in the art of food and beverage.

The high prices are rationalized under the guise of “convenience,” but it’s more like a monopoly from the perspective of students who can’t easily get off campus, especially if they’re among the freshmen forced to reside here.

For those still living in a world where the bookstore is benevolent and American cheese is a delicacy, you’re going to love it here. For a while.

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