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One of the most precious commodities for any college student is time. There is never enough to get homework done, study for classes, reflect on the Lesson or have fun with friends. The only thing worse than lack of time is time wasted. The going consensus is that too much time is wasted in the grill line.

Senior cashier Tanya Ferguson, a 12-year veteran of the dining services department, acknowledged this. “The wait time is too long in some instances. We have a lot of inexperienced workers who could use some improvement in their multitasking skills,” she said.

Currently, students place their grill order and wait the required time for their order to be prepared. The time frame is necessary to prepare the “special request,” but it shortens the amount of time to sit and enjoy the meal before dashing off to class or practice. Nothing constructive is accomplished during that wait, just the grumbling of frustrated and hungry students. Dining services director Lance Thornton and his crew strive to “try to do the best they can at taking care of the customer.”

To students who are accustomed to managing their time, the long wait is torture. Freshman Parker Tibbetts estimated that the wait time is an average of 10 minutes. “It would be more convenient if it was faster,” he said.

Imagine the following scenario: while sitting in class or doing homework, you find yourself on the brink of foregoing your meal rather than waste precious time waiting for your order to be prepared. What if you could simply take out your phone and text your order into the grill? A worker could quickly respond with the wait time, and you could plan your trip to the grill to coincide with your order being finished.

The 10 to 20 minutes you would have “wasted” waiting there could be used to accomplish necessities – and you could still enjoy your meal. “This proposal is a great idea. I am absolutely open to ways to optimize grill procedures,” Thornton said. “It wouldn’t be the first time we were ahead of some schools [in implementing new technology].”

As with any new procedure, this would require discussion and planning, but it appears that texting your order to the grill is possible.

Thornton gave an overview of the process that culminated in the opening of the C-Store. He said that with a plan, student government could be approached for approval of the proposal. “We were successful in getting the convenience store last year; this is doable;” he said.

Most pizza chains and other restaurants take phone orders and prepare the meal as the people are traveling to pick them up. They have much happier customers when they do not have to spend that time waiting for their order. The computing services department would have valuable input to enable the best delivery of orders, either by text or email. There would be a learning curve for students and staff to work out the bugs, but the end result would be worth the adjustment period. “If executed properly, I think this could be an effective plan,” Tibbetts said.

To save time, students would need to be willing to learn how to make the system work to their benefit. A system could be devised to enter the student’s ID number and directly deduct the order from their account. The student would be responsible for getting to the grill in time to pick up the hot order. Should they forget, or not show up for some time, they would assume responsibility and the accompanying charge for the order.

“In the 12.5 years that I have been here, no one has proposed a plan [like this idea],” Ferguson said. This is a problem that everyone would like to alleviate and with all the technological possibilities, it can be solved. Instead of experiencing the frustration of the long wait for grill orders which exists presently, this suggestion sounds like a win-win situation for all concerned. Thornton made a point of sharing that “it helps when students rally behind a project.”

Image courtesy of Julia Suber