Thank you for your “constructive criticism”

April 19th, 2011 · 38 comments

When it comes to comment cards and suggestion boxes, it’s not necessarily hard to get the last word. But as Maggie noticed while leaving a dining hall at the University of Denver, it takes a skilled passive-aggressive to turn a totally neutral, boilerplate response into an obvious “up yours” without so much as an exclamation point.

COMMENT: "Stop serving shitty cheap food, I got sick of it a year ago!" RESPONSE: "Thank you for your constructive criticism and your suggestions on how to improve our operation! -Nelson Dining Team."

related: The Great Egg Salad Ban of ’08 at the Conde Nast cafeteria

extra credit: College Cafeterias Get Bad Grades from the Health Dept. [nytimes.com]

FILED UNDER: "helpful" advice · college life · Denver · food · thanks (but not really)


38 responses so far ↓

  • #1   JW

    I love that the person waited a whole year since last eating there to leave a comment.
    [Surely someone wouldn't torture themselves by eating there for an entire year after they got sick of it?]

    Apr 19, 2011 at 10:49 pm   rating: 7  small thumbs up

    • #1.1   Jonah

      That’s kind of how college dining halls work, I think.

      Apr 19, 2011 at 11:22 pm   rating: 25  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.2   TickleMyBambo

      Hospital food is the same way as well, except you either eat it or starve. Or if you’re lucky enough someone might smuggle in some Taco Bell or something.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 1:31 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.3   The Elf

      Dorm food, any institutional food, isn’t known for quality. But it’ll keep ya fed cheaply, and when I was in school that’s what I aimed for. It’s great when a dining hall can manage something tasty, but I know I hit the salad bar more than once because the other options were less than pleasing.

      If you can afford it, you live off campus and cook your own. If you can’t, well that’s just four years of subpar lasagne. I can think of worse things.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 8:39 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.4   Meta

      When I was attending college, there was an uproar about the horrible cafeteria food and a demand for a change of vendors. I, not thinking the food was all that bad (for caf food), was skeptical of the whole idea. But the student government got on board, and the school changed vendors. Suddenly the food was even worse…and the little pizza joint in the student union was replaced by shitty frozen entrées. Disappointing to say the least.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.5   Bonobo

      I remember seeing the words “approved for prison use” written on the side of one of the cartons of milk at my university caf.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm   rating: 10  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.6   LaughingAndPeeinPants

      Omg that’s funny lol

      Apr 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #2   Guy

    I used to work in a diner where more than one customer said, “EVERY time I come here the food is just TERRIBLE!” This was, of course, at the last restaurant in the universe, so they could hardly be blamed for coming back over and over again.

    Apr 19, 2011 at 11:03 pm   rating: 51  small thumbs up

    • #2.1   FeRD bang

      You worked at Milliways!?!? Cool!

      Apr 19, 2011 at 11:19 pm   rating: 24  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.2   nomnomnom

      Did you see Disaster Area?

      Apr 20, 2011 at 12:15 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.3   Sirius¤ bang

      Yes, but they only played their new stuff – over and over.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 8:44 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.4   Jimmy James

      They’re just not the same since Hot Black Desiato died.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 9:00 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.5   Clumber

      No worries, mate! He’s only dead for a year for tax reasons!

      Apr 20, 2011 at 10:21 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.6   eliz

      Just watch out for a robot named Marvin in the parking deck – whoa, has that dude got some problems!

      Apr 20, 2011 at 11:15 pm   rating: 7  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #3   TickleMyBambo

    “We’re glad you brought this to our attention! As a matter of fact, our kitchen is short staffed and are currently hiring.. since you seem to have a keen eye, as well as palate, when it comes to the quality of the food we serve. It would be safe to extend a application to you since after a year of eating our “shitty food” would make you most qualified to be our new chef.”

    Apr 19, 2011 at 11:36 pm   rating: 20  small thumbs up

     
  • #4   Canthz_B bang

    I’d be willing to bet that was written with a shit-eating grin on their face!

    Apr 19, 2011 at 11:49 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

     
  • #5   Canthz_B bang

    I know the food sucks, but I’m dieing to know about the service, cleanliness and overall value.

    Can someone please supply a #2 pencil?

    Apr 20, 2011 at 2:25 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

     
  • #6   annihispanni

    # 2 pencil, no. But I DO have a red pen to circle spelling errors.

    Apr 20, 2011 at 2:56 am   rating: 10  small thumbs up

     
  • #7   clumber

    Hmm.. where was complainer going originally I wonder… “I got sick of it taste…” Wouldn’t have been hard to make that work, just an s… perhaps bad taste wasn’t judged to be harsh enough so went for celebrating the anniversary of getting sick instead.

    Dorm dining halls are the reason I became quite adept at cooking with a toaster oven. And drinking…. lots of drinking. The food wasn’t nearly as bad when one was hungover.

    Apr 20, 2011 at 7:10 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #7.1   The Elf

      Don’t forget the coffee maker! I made everything in that coffee maker except coffee, including more packets of ramen than I can count.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 8:41 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

       
    • #7.2   Who passed out the Haterade?

      I couldn’t figure out where they might have been going with that either… my only guess was that they lost their train of thought and tried to splice another new sentence in. (I.e. “I got sick of it. It tastes like s#!t.”)

      I’m sorta Team Our Response on this one. I can really sympathize with the student, ’cause the food at my college dining hall was an atrocity – but “this food tastes like s#!t” doesn’t tell them anything they don’t already know. Try offering something specific or constructive, like “Please consider providing sandwiches as an alternative” or “For the love of God, no more Turkey Surprises!”

      Apr 20, 2011 at 10:52 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

       
    • #7.3   TickleMyBambo

      Who knows, the complainer may be trying to say that the food tastes like rotten dirty underwear or something but realized there isn’t enough room in the comment box to really be able to tell the dinning hall staff how he really feels so he decided to scratch taste out and go with something simple but would speak volumes.

      It’s not like the complainer is incapable of going home and making his own meals, or every once in a while going somewhere else to eat. Nobody is forcing the “shitty food” down his throat except for himself so he really has no right to complain. If he hates it that much why don’t he volunteer to help out in the kitchen on his free time and try to make the dining experience better for himself and the rest of the college community who eat the food. I agree with Haterade on the fact that he should leave more specific and CONSTRUCTIVE suggestions/criticism to the staff that may change things up a bit.. Telling the kitchen staff that their food sucks everyday and not adding in anything helpful is only going to influence the staff to make even more shitty meals because they stopped caring a long time ago about whether or not people enjoy the quality of their food.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 11:58 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

       
    • #7.4   unsatisfied

      who the hell eats in the college cafeteria?

      ramen noodles, baby!

      Apr 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
    • #7.5   liddy

      Based on the handwriting alone, I’m thinkin it took so much mental energy to come up with the first 2 1/2 lines that he completely forgot what he was talking about and woke up about the time he finished “taste”.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 11:32 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

       
    • #7.6   ella mae

      I got sick of it “last” (was probably going to write “last year”) – changed to “a year ago.”

      Apr 25, 2011 at 2:00 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #8   Allie

    Not having eaten there, I’ll have to assume this falls into the category of fair comment. It’s the comma splice that upsets me.

    Apr 20, 2011 at 9:19 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

     
  • #9   divaandwriter bang

    I worked in my college cafeteria. I also lived on campus. I had to eat in the cafeteria, because the meals were included in the housing cost that was paid every quarter. Occasionally, some of us would go out for a burger or a pizza somewhere, or buy something in the Student Union, but that was just an occasional treat. The little college town where our school was located didn’t have a whole lot of dining options, anyway.

    Apr 20, 2011 at 9:47 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

     
  • #10   Managed Hosting

    You would think that they would then stop eating there as much. After all, what do they expect? It’s a college campus cafeteria, not a 5 star restaurant.

    Apr 20, 2011 at 12:12 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

     
  • #11   merkin4

    I once complained to the cafeteria manager that the food was being served at a temperature about 60 degrees too low.

    Five minutes later, he came running to my table with a digital thermometer, yelling “You were wrong! You were f’n wrong! It’s only 40 degrees too low!”

    Apr 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #11.1   Who passed out the Haterade?

      *snerk* Ehhh, what’s a little ptomaine between friends? (^_~)

      Could be worse, I guess… I once had to explain to a McDonald’s manager why I wanted my money back. After waiting fifteen minutes for food, I realized the reason for the wait when the guy who was supposed to be cooking walked out of the bathroom. With his little plastic gloves on, which he didn’t change as he went back to work.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm   rating: 9  small thumbs up

       
    • #11.2   Title Loans

      I think your story trumps the constructive criticism. And I would have loved to see what kind of comment you would have left for their service. That is absolutely inexcusable.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
    • #11.3   Who passed out the Haterade?

      Thank you. (^_^)

      I’m afraid it was pretty anticlimactic, though. All I did was pull the manager aside and quietly explain, “I’d like my money back, and I think you deserve to know why so that you can do something about it. (explanation) I’m not going to cause a scene in front of this crowd, because it’s a lot more important to give you the chance to fix it for the long-term instead of just for one morning. But please do have a long talk with this guy before someone gets seriously sick and this place gets shut down.”

      Apr 20, 2011 at 3:55 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

       
    • #11.4   eliz

      I was waiting to have blood taken for a test, and the nurse picked up some urine samples, moved them, and then proceeded to start the blood sample taking. Without washing hands or putting on gloves! UGH, NO! She actually was affronted that I would call her out on that and request that she wash her hands at least. Creeps me out to this day.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 11:25 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
    • #11.5   Who passed out the Haterade?

      This’ll sound crazy, but what freaks me out about this one isn’t the fact that they were urine samples per se. Unless someone has an active UTI, urine is generally sterile. Repulsive, but sterile.

      What freaks me out is that she probably focused only on that, and didn’t see anything wrong with the fact that someone had just been handling both their genitoanal region and that cup. That, combined with the fact she was about to puncture one of your veins with a needle touched by hands that touched that cup, horrifies me much more than the McDonald’s cook.

      Your gastrointestinal tract is pretty sturdy… most pathogens can’t survive the acid bath they get for a welcome party. But direct introduction of pathogens into the blood is how you get frickin’ sepsis.

      Apr 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #12   Zsa

    The only edible thing in my school’s cafeteria (and the “free” food included in my dorm housing plan) was the generic Fruit Loops. I got busted for having a hot pot, we couldn’t have coffee pots – they were OLD dorms & had bad wiring. I watched someone knock out the power on all 5 floors with a hair dryer.
    So I ate cereal – except for Hamburger Wednesdays- for a year until I could move off campus. hmmm… Maybe THAT is why I dislike cereal so much now.

    Apr 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #12.1   Clumber

      Yes, the toaster oven was contraband. I didn’t have a coffee pot but did have a hot water heatery thing. IIRC the dorm cafeteria at WWU was general institutional food, but there were a few don’t miss meals (they made a KILLER YUM spaghetti feed with garlic bread!), and lunch was always good since it was just bread and cold cuts on a counter. At UW (GO DAWGS!) I wasn’t in student housing but the food at the Hub was good if not particularly cheap.

      I am totally on Team Response. It’s not like it’s a secret that dorm food sucks no matter where you go, except on Freshman Parents Orientation Day. The reply was awesomely generic and thusly pleasantly snarky. Thumbs up and I’ll have another bowl of the Fruit Loops too, thanks. No, no… the 2% please. From the back carton if you don’t mind. Thx XOXO

      Apr 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm   rating: 5  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #13   Stella

    The food in our dorm cafeteria was terrible, and went even further downhill after I moved out. And it was expensive as fuck too! Rent for one student was almost $700 a month, and then you were required to buy a meal plan on top of that, and the cheapest meal plan was almost $10 per meal. I got the one that cost the least amount of money and cooked a lot of pasta in a teapot.

    Apr 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

     
  • #14   Michelle

    I’m from DU and I love the Nelson dining team. They’re amazing, and this only proves it!

    Apr 21, 2011 at 12:21 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

     

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