Let’s be real: quarantining is absolutely no fun. From not being able to go out for necessities, to not being able to see your friends, to not even being able to get a breath of fresh air, there are several reasons to hate self-isolation. As someone who was recently quarantining on Truman State University’s campus, I’ll be candid in saying that it was definitely not my dream vacation; however, the Sodexo employees were often the bright spot in my day, and for that, I have nothing but gratitude.
During quarantine, especially on campus, it can feel as though you’ve been delivered to another dimension, one where time is fluid and experience is relative. Schedules inevitably become thrown off as you miss in-person classes, and it may be difficult to sleep in your new environment. Students often begin their quarantine late at night, creating all sorts of strange sounds at odd hours. You may even forget how your voice sounds. Throughout all of these unfamiliar, uncomfortable experiences, Sodexo food delivery offered me a sense of stability. Meals always came at the same time of day; I felt like one of Ivan Pavlov’s dogs, trained to recognize the sound of the cart coming down the hall to deliver food. Sometimes, the voice of the person delivering your meal was the only real voice you would hear that day. Even the little things, like being able to predict the knock on the door at the right time of day, or the certainty that the person delivering would shout that they were there, helped to anchor me and give me a sense of stability in a highly unstable time. Knowing that normal schedules resumed outside of my room, even when everything inside felt abnormal, helped remind me that my quarantine, and all the uncomfortable experiences associated with it, was temporary.
One of those temporary discomforts associated with isolation is, of course, boredom. There isn’t much you can do in a ten-by-ten foot room, especially if you quarantined unexpectedly and couldn’t bring a lot of things to keep yourself busy. During this time, Sodexo food delivery was often the most exciting part of my day. The meals were different every day; I think the only things I ate twice were mashed potatoes and eggs. It was always an exciting mystery to open the box, as you smelled the food and tried to guess what it could be. Although we all take for granted the small things, like what we’re going to eat at our next meal, they became big things for me during quarantine. In a way, the Sodexo employees that brought meals to students in quarantine were delivering the equivalent of Christmas gifts, and the surprise inherent in that experience was often the highlight of my day.
Finally, and most importantly, the Sodexo employees that deliver meals to students provide an essential service. They complete a job that is likely thankless; it’s hard to see if you’re being appreciated behind a heavy dorm-room door. The work that goes into preparing the meals, delivering them and then serving other students in the dining halls is draining, and usually, all that students have to give back are complaints. Nonetheless, this work is important to the students that benefit from it. Even at college-age, the possibility of contracting COVID-19 is frightening, especially when you know that you will be alone if you do become ill. Many students are far from home and are unfamiliar with Kirksville’s health-care options; I know I didn’t know where I should go, beyond the Student Health Center, if I actually experienced symptoms. The fears that I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to my loved ones if I became truly sick due to distance and the danger of the virus are fears that I’m sure have crossed other students’ minds. With all of these things to worry about, Sodexo employees are heroes for taking yet another concern, where one’s food will come from, off of students’ plates, especially during a time when contact with other workers and students could lead to exposure.
I am so very thankful for the care that the Sodexo employees who prepared and delivered my meals during quarantine showed me. Too often, we as students take for granted the support that these individuals give us daily; we must take the time to appreciate and show our respect to those who work for Sodexo, as they are a large part of our success and health. For all of that, I would just like to say thank you to any and all Sodexo employees; you truly are essential and appreciated on this campus.