Though many may only factor the food  when debating the attributes of eateries around campus, I’d like to suggest a bit of a different approach. Yes, yes, the petite burrito size at Synapsis versus the size-of-a-small-child burrito you receive at Trillium is something to consider, but what about the people we interact with while we’re there? Here at Cornell, we have many distinctive faces and personalities who work for Cornell dining and add so much beyond the food. They have difficult, stressful, and thankless jobs, but they do them (usually) with a smile. We may know them as “Risley card-swipe guy” or the “sassy Trill Express woman” but we also know that Risley-guy always dresses up for Halloween, and the sass-machine at Trill Express calls everyone “honey”, and will give you extra whipped cream. I’d make some introductions so these big personalities can get the recognition they deserve. Because Cornell food is actually really good, and it’s thanks to these people.

“Happy Dave” “Okenshields guy” (or any combination of these)


Photo by Alice Zhou

Hands down the happiest dude you’ll see on campus. Dave is always just all-around pleasant. Always. For the people who eat regularly at Okenshields, you have probably never seem him without a smile, and he’s more than obliging when you’re swiping in your free-loading friends who aren’t on the meal plan. Happy Dave makes Okenshields a better place, and we should all take a second to say hello and goodbye as we move through there. Also, he doesn’t mind when you take a million mints on your way out, so definitely swipe those.

Sean from Risley


Photo by Alice Zhou

If you want to see multi-tasking at its finest, watch Sean. This dude is refilling the salad bar, restocking the fruit trays, putting out dessert, putting away old pizza trays… oh yeah, and swiping people in. He trusts kids to wait for him at his desk and I think that shows an incredible amount of coolness. But outside of his job description, he’s just a boss. Sean always brings it for Halloween with an awesome costume and other less important holidays. He also always says “Have a good day,” which, though small, is so nice to hear sometimes. Thanks, Risley dude, I will have a nice day.

Manndibles People


Photo by Alice Zhou

Okay so I actually haven’t gone to Manndibles enough to build any kind of relationship with the people there. Perhaps it’s a sign I should go to the library more, but I think it has more to do with the fact that I think they’re scary as shit. Of course I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I have a rule: if my cashier has multiple piercings and/or tattoos, I just don’t make a complicated order. Whatever they want, even if it’s a ridiculous $10 minimum for credit cards, is fine by me. We get it, you’re all organic and locally grown and aren’t actually owned by Cornell Dining. Chill. Though the burritos are, in fact, da bomb.

Synapsis Ladies


Photo by Alice Zhou

There are only two words needed to describe this dynamic duo: so nice. I feel like I get an extra “Hey, honey, can I help you?” whenever I look exhausted and just need a smoothie, and that’s awesome. Also, for a lot of the people who eat there all the time, they know your name and maybe even your order. Anyone that can make a flatbread pizza like that and still have time to have a smile on is goddess-status to me.

RPCC Chicken Guy


Photo by Alice Zhou

Even though it has been a while since I’ve eaten at RP-Sizzle, I have such fond memories. One in particular is Tuesday and Thursday grilled chicken day. Yum. And one reason this average piece of meat takes on a special meaning is because the grill guy is such a sweetheart. I remember one specific instance when he actually brought my friend her chicken because they were out when she went up. That’s amazing. He’s always nice and accommodated my “umm… wheat bun, wait no, white bun, actually no bun at all… could I get two?” My mom never let me be that indecisive without freaking, so I may as well be adopted by this guy.

We all know that for on-campus dining there is the good, the bad and the ugly. But here, regarding the people that make our feasting possible, we have it pretty good. So many of them have thankless jobs, and they do them with a smile. Next time you get a burrito, or swipe into Okenshields, or leave Synapsis, throw these fine folks an extra “Have a good one,” and pass the niceness on.