Why We Should Thank Chartwells and Facilities Workers

Kyle Liang

Last year I spent a lot of time eating meals alone. And by a lot of time, I mean any chance I could find between classes or before practice to inhale whatever sandwich the cafeteria was serving at the deli-to-go. Since it only took five or 10 minutes to eat anyways with no one there to talk to, it was never long enough for me to feel self-conscious about not having anyone to sit with and result in taking out my phone to scroll through selfies, sunsets and pictures of Arnold Bernhard up and down my Instagram news feed. So instead I’d just sit at table, quietly noticing all the people around me like the lead singer of Snow Patrol in the Chasing Cars music video from 2006.

One of the things I noticed every time I ate lunch was that when the Chartwells workers went on their break, they routinely brought their lunch over to the TV, changed the channel to CBS and began watching Wheel Of Fortune. Sometimes I would even see groups of facilities workers or multiple Chartwells workers watching the show together.

Seeing them watch Wheel Of Fortune was like watching a group of dads at a youth football game because they weren’t just watching—they were a part of the game. You could see the reactions on their faces when a contestant got the phrase wrong or when the arrow landed on that tiny section of the wheel that would even make Satan himself cringe. They were more than just spectators of the show; they were contestants themselves, playing from the Quinnipiac cafeteria.

You see how they identify with the players on television, and when your eyes oscillate between the workers and the people on the television, you start to notice the contrast. Because win or lose, at the end of the day, the host, the audience, the contestants and their families are all still smiling, the music is still playing, and their lives remain relatively unchanged. As for the workers who ate their lunches while watching the show, a new car, a vacation they would otherwise never be able to afford or any of those other prizes would mean a drastic change in their quality of life. Especially when, for some, the city bus is their only means of getting to and from work, and vacations are only luxuries experienced by families who have the financial flexibility for them.

Then you realize just how sad Wheel Of Fortune becomes for those who can only dream to be in that audience for a shot at one of those prizes while they watch from a school cafeteria. And then you realize what they’re surrounded by. These honest-working, underpaid workers provide their services to thousands of kids who were born, raised or fortunate enough to be part of a family that can support them to attend a privately-funded university and drive (just from what I’ve seen in the Hilltop parking lot) Range Rovers, BMWs and Audis while wearing North Face jackets and Vineyard Vines. What a tease that must be. And the one thing these workers look forward to during the middle of their shift is a game show that consists of unrealistic opportunities for people who don’t need any of the lavish prizes offered anyways.

You can’t help but think that instead of trying to appreciate what we have, we should start looking at what other people don’t have, and appreciate them, and imagine what it must be like to put a smile on your face everyday while you serve countless kids who don’t think that your job is worth their thanks because it’s your job. Whether it’s their job or not, if you would appreciate the person next to you in line for serving your food, you should be equally appreciative if not more appreciative of the person across the counter from you serving your food. I’d like to see you ask me how my day is right before you scoop mashed potatoes onto my plate or, better yet, clean the vomit from my sink.