I don’t get to eat lunch until 2 p.m. on most days. By then, hundreds of students have filed in and out of the cafeteria, leaving a war zone behind them.
Chairs are facing all different directions, sometimes blocking the aisles. Tables are covered in straw wrappers, silverware, and leftover food. Dirty napkins litter the floor.
I search for a decently-clean place to sit; you know, at a table with only a little bit of rice, lettuce, or trash strewn about. Most days, I don’t find one.
So I grab a napkin of my own and try to wipe down a table, disgusted by the ketchup, mayonnaise, and mysterious sticky substances left behind by my peers. I pick up the trash and utensils—and sometimes entire plates of food—and bring them up to the dish room to toss them into their respective bins.
But you know what? I’m sick of cleaning up the messes that my fellow students leave behind. I’m sick of touching other people’s trash.
It’s not hard to pick up after yourself. It takes less than a minute to scrape your leftover food into a bin and put your dishes on the conveyor belt. I know we’re busy, but there’s no excuse. That’s less time than it takes to send a tweet.
Here’s the deal: If we don’t clean up after ourselves, then someone else has to.
“What about the cafeteria workers?” you ask. “Isn’t it their job to clean up after us?”
Well believe it or not, the cafeteria workers are actually busy, you know, preparing food. They feed hundreds of people every single day; they shouldn’t have to worry about 18-year-olds who can’t even throw away a napkin.
As Christians, we are supposed to put others before ourselves. Every time we leave our table looking messier than when we first sat down, we are being lazy, we are being selfish, we are not being disciples of Christ.
Students here often complain that we’re treated like children, that we’re not respected as adults. Well, if we can’t even clean up after ourselves when we eat lunch, then maybe we deserve to be treated like children.
If you want to be respected as an adult, then you better start acting like one.