By Amy Zeis
You’ve just filled your plate with the most edible-looking food Ernie Davis Dining Hall has to offer, and now you’re on the move to find a place to sit. Rather than finding yourself in the comfort of an ugly green booth, you somehow end up standing at the top of the stairs, looking down upon a sea of suddenly unfriendly tables filled to capacity. Yes, once again, you’re left in Ernie Davis without a seat, awkwardly holding your tray amongst the throngs of hungry students.
As a past resident of Ernie Davis, I can safely say that I’ve eaten in that dining hall often enough to call myself a self-proclaimed professional Ernie Davis Dining Hall patron. But I have found myself awkwardly atop those steps more times than I’d like to admit. So how does one avoid this horribly embarrassing occurrence?
First, check your watch. What time did you decide to have dinner at Ernie? 6:30? Yeah, well, so did everyone else. That’s your first mistake. From 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. is prime time Ernie dinnertime. During this time avoid Ernie like it’s DPS on a Friday night. Try eating a late lunch or early dinner, a “linner” if you will, around 5:30, or a late dinner at 8.
Second, if you have to eat during prim time, bite the bullet and eat at the high, bar-type tables placed in the middle of the food area. Okay, so you may be sitting two feet away from steaming piles of ground beef at the taco bar, but at least you’re sitting. Plus, sitting in this area is the best spot for serious people watching. These tables are the place to see and be seen. You’ll definitely be noticed, and if you’re having a great time, everyone will start to wish they were sitting uncomfortably close to the steaming taco meat too.
Third, the swift, running seizure of an open table is probably the single most important survival tactic that one must learn in order to survive eating in Ernie Davis. Sure, greedily hovering around a table full of people who look like they are getting ready to move is completely awkward and essentially a gamble, especially if they finally get up…and then get desert. But compared to standing uncomfortably on the stairs in full view of the entire Ernie Davis dining hall population, a.k.a. everyone on campus who has a meal plan, it’s the better option.
It takes vigilance, confidence, speed and a bit of good fortune to successfully snatch an open table, but it can be done. Make sure to spot your target and lock yourself on it. This is YOUR table! Just make sure to choose a table where the occupants all have empty plates in front of them and seem to be shifting in their seats, as this may help signal an impending departure. If they have empty desert containers, you’re in. Next, make your way to the vicinity of your target, but don’t hover! Try sending (forcing) one person of your group, essentially the martyr, to amble on over to the table and hover while looking as innocent and pitiable as possible. If all goes according to plan, the current occupants of the target table will show sympathy and leave. Additionally, this one-person sacrifice tactic is infinitely less creepy than sending a whole group.
Whatever your tactic, you must be quick in your movements! Inevitably two different groups will lock onto the same target. Do not be the weak group! Assert your dominance in the dining hall, and always be quick and confidents in your maneuvers!
It’s your time now. So buck up and suffer the small sacrifices to secure a table. You’re hungry, and no one wants to be that awkward person standing at the top of stairs. That’s just embarrassing.