COMMENTARY: Let me eat in peace

Tabitha Waggoner

Recently my best friend and I decided to meet at Red Zone for dinner. At the last minute, I decided to pick up some yummy Popeyes chicken from the Tower Food Court and walked to Red Zone. The lady who took my friend’s order at Red Zone spoke with us nicely and made sure we wanted seating for two.

I’ve frequented Red Zone since M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan 2007 without any incidents other than extremely long lines, unpredictable service time, misplaced orders and the latest mystery of why they thought it was a good idea to change the numbers on the tables when none of the tables have been moved around. (Are triple digits easier to remember than double digits? Hmmm.)

I had been digging into my Popeyes mild and spicy chicken fingers for a few minutes, and my friend was explaining to me why she was changing her major for the third time.

Then it got nuclear. A young woman walked up to our table without a greeting and plainly told me, “You can’t eat that in here.”

I don’t remember what my initial response was, but I know it was something along the lines of, “I’m going to anyway, but tell me why I can’t?”

She got huffy, walked away and complained to a man who claimed he was the manager (but had no name tag) and told me that only Red Zone or Papa John’s was allowed here. I asked where the sign was that announced this rule (there wasn’t one) and why his employees seated me when I had a Popeyes bag and cup in hand.

“That’s a good question,” he said, and told me he had the right to ask me to leave. To top it off, the elderly lady who works in Red Zone threatened that “we can take your 800 number!” I felt insulted. “Then take it,” I said, gathered my stuff, and left.

Were they going to report me to the dean? Sheesh, if I ate Popeyes in Subway while my friend had a cold cut trio, nobody would have tripped.

My friend still hadn’t received her food, and the head dogs had split us up until she got her meal to go. I wasn’t allowed to finish my meal in peace or wait until she was served her food. It didn’t matter that I was a loyal and honest customer, or that I never steal drinks like everyone else does.

It doesn’t matter that their paychecks all come from the same place, so there’s no real competition.

But, it’s disrespectful to throw a student out of a campus restaurant just because she bought her food at “rival” campus restaurant.

A pox upon me for eating my chicken in the most holy Red Zone.

So, those are the rules.

They are stupid. This would never happen at an off-campus restaurant. Red Zone, a warning would be more appropriate; don’t interrupt my dinner.

This commentary doesn’t necessarily represent the views of the Herald or the university.