It was your average Friday dinner in the caf when all of a sudden a senior athlete climbed on a table in the middle of the cafeteria and proclaimed that she had an announcement to make. The other seniors in the caf and I all cringed, hoping that whatever she had to say was more appropriate than the manner in which she was doing it, but she surprised us. Rather than announcing that she would be hosting various end-of-orientation festivities that evening or anything else inappropriate, she proceeded to give a genuine, heartfelt speech about Barb, an employee at the caf.
Barb is one of the fantastic women who swipe our meal cards and let us into the caf. She was also the one who would scold us for taking an apple and a cookie when we were leaving (“You can only take one food item!”). My peerʼs announcement was that that Friday evening would be our last time seeing Barbʼs friendly face behind the desk. At 77, Barb was worried about job security and had decided it was time to look for work somewhere else.
As I finished eating, I remembered the tour guide on my college tour of K telling us about Barb and how she could sometimes be cranky (she took her job seriously!), but I had taken that to mean that K is a tight-knit community. Imagine a college or university where your tour guide knows his lunch lady! Iʼd grown accustomed to seeing Barb almost daily over the course of my time at K, and I came to realize that the caf will be just a little bit different without her there.
After dinner I went up and talked to her, and she was touched to think that anyone even noticed she existed, let alone that we would miss her! The caf was abuzz with everyone talking about Barb leaving, and no one knew what to do apart from give her a hug. I even saw a football player give her a bear hug. Many relationships with Barb consisted only of short, fairly impersonal questions and answers, but they had compounded and it took her leaving to make us realize how much that little bit of caring had meant to everyone.