Mabee Workers weigh in on serving college kids and working long shifts


Photo credit: Genevieve Humphreys

Johnny Jackson Jr., pizza station worker at Mabee Dining Hall, has been working at Trinity dining services for about 10 years.

“We wear name tags, you know, just look at a person’s name tag … instead of just saying, ‘Hey, y’all,’ ” Jackson said.

Jackson emphasized the importance of seeing him and others like him as humans, too. Jackson, like other Mabee workers, works double shifts with enough breaks. But like any job, it gets tiring.

“I work at night, you know, that goes a long way. I come to work and some days I’m a little tired, other than that it’s okay,” Jackson said.

Upon meeting Jackson for our interview, he mentioned that he had to leave work at 11:15 p.m. to pick up his daughter. Realizing that Jackson has other responsibilities outside of serving students pizza may remind students that Mabee workers deserve the respect of being humanized by students and faculty.

Jackson acknowledges that students may not always remember to call Mabee workers by their names.

“They might have a hard day in class or they’re homesick,” Jackson said.

Jackson enjoys interacting with students as they come up to get pizza.

“Everyone’s always kind, courteous. You know, I’m always telling them, ‘Hit those books, ’cause that’s what you’re here for,’ ” Jackson said.

Crystal Pinales, comfort food worker at Mabee dining hall, has been at Trinity since July and has enjoyed interacting with Trinity students.

“Y’all are all good, all polite,” Pinales said.

Pinales appreciates hearing students’ interests. Pinales recalled that one student often tells her about his video game interests and classes.

“I wanted to work here because I knew I was going to see the same people every day and have a connection,” Pinales said.

Occasionally Pinales and Jackson have to give students reminders when they order food. Pinales reminds students to speak up when they’re ordering food so she can hear exactly what they want. Pinales suggests a more polite way of ordering.

“Maybe actually saying what you want, instead of pointing [to the food],” Pinales said.

Jackson adds that students should be careful when handling hot food, like pizza, and be wary of cross-contaminating other students’ food.

“You don’t want them to burn themselves … or use the spatula with meat on it to grab vegetarian [food],” Jackson said.

Both Pinales and Jackson said that these are reminders to help the students more than anything else.

Jackson also said that he will sometimes see students who leave dirty plates on the tables instead of taking them to the conveyor belt.

“You see some kids who think they have butlers and just [are] not courteous,” Jackson said.

Working in Mabee demands versatility and adaptability to change. Recently, Jackson was scheduled to work double shifts.

“It’s kind of hard when sometimes you get off at midnight, and you turn around and come in at eight o’clock in the morning. You know, it’s a little stressful,” Jackson said.

Pinales is currently working at the comfort food station but will soon switch to be a barista at The Daily Grind, a coffee shop to open up in Mabee Dining Hall. Pinales recalled situations when food runs out in the back and the head chefs have to come up with a plan B.

Ethan Jones, sophomore, appreciates Mabee workers for what they do for students. “I feel like Mabee workers work really hard. … You can tell they care about the quality of food at mabee and the quality of the experience at Mabee,” Jones said.

Jackson commented on how running an operation like Mabee is no easy task. That’s why, according to Jackson, there’s been a new head chef every six to eight months for the past year and a half. He recalled that when a long-time manager — known amongst the staff as Mr. Don — left Mabee a couple years ago, it became harder for Mabee workers to adjust.

Overall, both Jackson and Pinales had positive things to say about Mabee and the Tigers.

“You guys are our first priority,” Pinales said.