The following is an entry I submitted to “The Little Things at WM,” a blog dedicated to celebrating the small moments that make campus life encouraging and beautiful. Find more at: http://thelittlethingsatwm.blogspot.com/.
The Marketplace, by the way, is one of our dining halls on campus. As opposed to the Sadler Center and Caf, the Marketplace is a la carte, not all-you-can-eat. It operates much like a food court and works on our meal plans. For the record, breakfast at the Marketplace is the absolute best meal at the College and absolutely worth waking up for.
I have had dozens of moving, staggeringly beautiful experiences at William and Mary. One of the most unexpected parts of my William and Mary experience, for example, has been the consistency with which Tribe members celebrate one another’s joys and mourn one another’s struggles. Devoid of jealousy or apathy, people here truly care about one another.
But these are three stories that lack a real moment of any kind. They are not achievements. They are not losses. This is simply the story of the Marketplace staff serving students, serving me, to the very best of their ability without understanding how much their support means.
On a particularly hard day sophomore year, I arrived at the Marketplace for lunch, homesick and very lonely. I wanted to be with my Mama, and I wanted comfort food from my kitchen in Richmond. The staff member at Grillworks made me a grilled cheese sandwich, despite the fact that it was not on the menu, simply because I needed it. I nearly cried as she handed it to me over the counter. Together with two pints of 2% milk, that meal became one of the most memorable of my college experience. It sounds silly, but I knew I was home.
Just a few weeks ago, I was walking home from an event at the Kimball Theatre that ended around 8:40pm. Thinking that the Marketplace was open until 9pm, I stopped in, walked through the unlocked doors, and started browsing the food in the refrigerated case. A staff member stopped mopping and came out to tell me that the registers had already been closed out and that the Marketplace was closed. I started to leave, already disappointed from a hard day and trying to figure out where I would find food before pulling an all nighter. The staff member caught me as I was leaving, told me to go back to case to get what I wanted, and to leave without paying. He said to me, “I could never send a college student home hungry.” That extremely humble attitude demonstrated something I have encountered with that staff multiple times- they do not just do their jobs; they care about feeding us even when they have to make personal sacrifices.
Last, and most importantly, I was at the Marketplace salad bar at 10:45am the day after a student passed away. Since the Marketplace does not open for lunch officially until 11am, the staff was still meeting to organize for the day. After giving logistical reminders, the manager pulled everyone into a tight huddle, presumably to tell them about the student’s tragic death. As I walked by to head to the register, I heard the manager tell her staff, “Be very compassionate today.” I was overwhelmed with emotion as I thought about how considerate the staff members were and how much they cared about campus circumstances. (Do we, in return, invest as much in their lives?) As I mourned, I felt encouraged by her simple mandate.
So, in the spirit of the Marketplace staff, consider others’ circumstances carefully. As Plato reminds us, “…everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Be very compassionate.