Guess who's employed (again)?
In addition to blogging twice a week, giving a few tours every month, and being a TA for Ch 3a (an introductory chemistry lab course), I have also just started my career in the food service industry. At Caltech, there's a student-operated coffee house (Chouse) that opens at night (10 pm - 2 am) before weekdays (so Sunday through Thursday nights). This term, I work Wednesday nights.
There are four stations that we rotate through: the register, fryer, grill, and ramen/boba/pizza stations. Students staying up for work (or for other things) can pop in for late-night food that keep them going. Before I started working at Chouse, some of my favorite things to get were the dino nuggets, chicken tenders, boba, milkshake, or cheese pizza. Now that I've worked the fryer, I'm beginning to dislike the odor of oily greasy food. I have also since learned just how long it takes to make a milkshake. The toughest part is scooping the ice cream. When you get three milkshake orders in a row, your dominant arm just flops in anticipation.
My favorite part of working at Chouse is that I get to see lots of people. There are the regulars, with their "just the regular" orders. There are people who come in after an evening class, people who come with their friends just for the company and not for the food (but who might end up getting something anyway), and there are people who come with order ideas that just get more and more creative. I thought I had seen it all--the quesadilla with dino nuggets inside, or with mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders ("the Eric"), or with everything possible, or with a burger and lettuce ("the Cous Tesadilla")... and then today, my friend was craving some cheese and ordered a quesadilla without a tortilla. The guy at the grill didn't even bat an eye. He put a handful of cheese on a paper plate and put the whole plate on the grill. Easy.
You might not want grilled cheese on a plate, but there are so many options I'm sure you'll find something you wouldn't mind trying. I hadn't even tried everything at Chouse before I started working there. I still haven't tried the mozzarella sticks or jalapeño poppers, but they're so popular I think I'll have to try one of each the next time I work...
One specialty I recommend is the calzookie. Two large round chocolate chip cookies, heated up just to the point of melting, with a large scoop of ice cream sandwiched in between. It is a marriage of contrasts--the warm soft cookie and the cold creamy ice cream, hoping you'll consume it before it before it reaches of state of greater entropy...
On my first day, everything felt new and complicated and challenging. I've since settled in some, though, and gotten the hang of the job. What remains my greatest challenge is the milkshake. You see, I'm from land of the Dairy Queen, where milkshakes are blizzards that don't come splatting out when you flip it over. I have standards. According to Caltech legend, the student coffee house started in the SAC, a student activity center that is the basement below the South Houses. Back in those days, the Milkshake Boy would make milkshakes that could be inverted. They had all sorts of interesting flavors and a secret menu, too. Nowadays, we have chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream. I suppose the true milkshake lover could buy their preferred ice cream flavor from the convenience store (c-store) for me to blend...
In those long-ago days, students who did poorly on their midterms would receive a warning on a blue slip of paper. The Milkshake Boy gave them discounts on milkshakes in sympathy. (As a fully unintended result, blue slips became something desirable, oops, and some frosh on pass-fail intentionally worked to earn them.) In a few weeks, the Caltech Christian Fellowship will be holding their termly Blue Slip Milkshakes event, where we make milkshakes for free for people on Drop Day, the last day to drop classes. Hopefully I can practice my milkshake-making skills in Chouse until then!
If you ever come to visit campus, I'd highly recommend staying around for Chouse. You'll be in a hub of campus life, during the prime Techer hours of 10pm to 2am.
keep lookin' up,