Not even a month ago I posted about my frustrations with the cafeteria at my agency. Since then I’ve continued to try to stay away as much as possible, though it’s hard to avoid for lunch since it’s the only place on-campus; unless you bring your lunch, you have to drive off-site if you want to forego the “privilege” of eating in the cafeteria.

Recently I’ve been away a fair amount–in training, and then at the conference earlier this week–so I’ve had a reprieve. Today, though, I made the mistake of going back and, worse, actually engaging the manager in a conversation. She was standing next to me as I was in the cashier’s line, so I asked if I could pose a question. “Is there a difference,” I asked, “between the regular turkey sandwich on the menu at $3.60, with a slice of cheese for 25 cents more, and the ‘special’ of the day listed as turkey sandwich with a slice of cheddar for $3.99, which is 14 cents more?” She exploded at me and abraded me for the next five minutes while I waited to pay for my food; she said that the selection of cheeses available in the first sandwich is American, provolone or muenster, and that the cheddar is “special” and therefore more expensive. She then raised her voice even more, claiming that their prices are far too cheap in any case and that they intend to raise the price on all the sandwiches and additions–like a slice of cheese–in the next week. She told me I had the choice not to eat there–a true statement, though not exactly a stunning example of customer service or sensitivity.

Over the past few months, my colleagues have been sharing their own stories with me of rudeness, incorrect or misleading prices, mislabeled foods, etc. There’s one cashier I discovered that we all avoid unless absolutely necessary, because she speaks rudely, rolls her eyes and audibly sighs when having to make change from anything larger than a five-dollar bill, or when providing change even from a quarter when one just wants a cup of hot water, for which they charge 19 cents. The manager has been observed berating other customers similar to the haranguing she gave me today.

Unfortunately, it turns out that we don’t really have any recourse. I’ve just learned that the contract to the catering company isn’t awarded even by my own agency, but is mandated for us by GSO, so we can’t even elect to recompete it. Oh well, I love driving the Prius, so maybe this will encourage me to get away from the facility at lunch altogether.

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