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Plan early for ARA evacuation week


Keep in mind as you read this that my purpose is not to flame about ARA. Each of you has your own horror story -- a cockroach in the fries, a bit of disease suspected in the sausage, and so on. I am not writing this to complain about ARA, but to make fun of it.

"Oktoberfest" came to Lobdell and stayed there all of last week. Our food service captured the sights, smells, and, er, tastes of Munich in the fall. We were greeted by a cheap poster of a German man blowing into a brass instrument as two golden beer steins hovered on either side on him. At the features line students were able to enjoy the taste of "knockwurst mit sauerkraut." (Get the double meaning of the word "mit"? So subtle, like the flavoring of the dish itself.)

A crookedly photocopied "Oktoberfest Fact Sheet" stood in a plastic frame above the tasty entrees. We learned from this sheet, among other things, that "Germans have a considerable love of nature and the country of Germany is conducive to romance. Many are deeply moved by trees, running water, and the animals of the forest." (Hey, G"unther! Let us go pick flowers by the Rhein, ja?)

But we must not dwell on the past. Our task now, as I see it, is to ensure that our intelligence is not similarly insulted next year. By this I mean we should kick ARA's booty out of MIT for good.

My plan requires only five days of your time, starting Monday the sixth. Through sustained effort on your part during ARA Evacuation Week, it won't be long before we are once more eating in an insect- and disease-free cafeteria.

O+ Monday: Welcome to the pizza line at Lobdell. Remember how all this month you've been eating slice after slice in order to win Itza Pizza's VCR? Well, this is the last day of the contest. I want two hundred of you each to eat a slice with sausage. Eat another. Feel sick yet? Think about the night, almost one year ago, when two students ate exactly the same thing and got gastroenteritis. Anything yet? Good. Go to the medical center at four in the morning, all of you, and tell the doctor where you've been eating lately.

O+ Tuesday: It's student night at Networks. Have your parents take out a second mortgage on your home and send you the money. Now, fifty of you should go have dinner at the classiest ARA facility around. (They won't have trouble seating you. Trust me.) Start off with the fettucine, maybe have some soup and salad, an entree or two, and dessert. When you order the drinks, keep in mind that some of you are on house meal plans and have nothing better to do with your Validine than buy Dom Perignon at $98 a bottle. Make sure that everyone who drinks is underage. Get thoroughly lit.

Now go to the office of James Tewhey, Associate Dean for Student Affairs. (Chances are he'll be working late that night.) Stagger in, all fifty of you, and tell him where you got the booze. For added effect, show him exactly what you have eaten.

O+ Wednesday: Have you noticed the proliferation lately of lame little contests and Oktoberfest-like gimmicks? It's as if some executive deep in the bowels of ARA Central is thinking, If there's one thing these MIT kids want, it's something to keep their minds off the food. It's a sweet thought, and one which bears emulation. Here's how.

Ten of you should punt all your classes Wednesday and go to an Athena cluster. Brainstorm, like they do on thirtysomething, about phony food coupons and contests you think should be posted at the dining halls. Print up something along the lines of "Buy one ounce of salad, get ten ounces free" and "Tell us what you think ARA stands for -- winners get free champagne at Networks." Distribute these liberally at your favorite dining halls. Each manager will very likely think the others are responsible, and will gladly honor your faux paperwork.

O+ Thursday: I'm not an engineer, but I have a feeling some of you are. What would happen if someone from Course VI took apart a food service cash register and figured out exactly how it works? Just to satisfy your natural curiosity, find out if negative money can be deducted. If it can't, well, you're an engineer. Fix the damn thing.

Now deduct negative eighty thousand dollars from every undergraduate's account. Those of us with refundable meal plans will be thinking of you when we get our tuition bill after four years and find it paid in full.

Optionally, Thursday night food fights shall transpire at Baker, McCormick, MacGregor, and Next House.

O+ Friday: We are fed up. We must convince ourselves that our meal card symbolizes all that is wrong with the food service here. Everyone with one of these hideous plastic toys -- 2500 of us or so -- should drop it into an institute toilet and flush simultaneously. With the resulting clog in the sewer system, ARA will have no source of ... never mind. Forget I said it.

You get the point. We don't have the passion to act as we would have in the sixties. Boycotts and sit-ins are pass'e, anyway. If a few of us get together and follow my Evacuation Week plan, we may find one day that we have driven ARA's business to Harvard.


My plan requires only five days of your time. Through sustained effort on your part during ARA Evacuation Week, it won't be long before we are once more eating in an insect- and disease-free cafeteria.

Go to the medical center at four in the morning, all of you, and tell the doctor where you've been eating lately.