Positivity of campus cashier will be missed
Taneya Morris, one of Carnegie Mellon’s most beloved CulinArt employees, was dismissed in late May. As much of the student body laments her dismissal, I know I speak for most when I say I will sincerely miss her bubbly personality and colorful nail polish this year as someone else swipes my blocks at Pasta Villaggio or rings up my afternoon caffeine fix at Entropy+.
Morris was the sunshine of campus food — an invaluable CulinArt employee with a positive energy unmatched by others.
She knew a large number of students by their first names, and even knew their descent or celebrity doppelganger, although her notes were not always spot on.
According to Morris, my name was “Elaina,” I was fresh from the Middle East, and my petite blond roommate looked just like a white Kim Kardashian.
When I approached her register between classes, she always greeted me with a smile and something like, “Hey Elaina, how’s your day going? I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever. Your hair has gotten so long! You’re just so exotic looking. How’s your roommate?”
Even though she had been swiping my DineX for two years, I never had the heart to tell Morris that my name was pronounced with an “ah” in the middle, that my ancestry could not be farther from Arabia, and that my roommate frankly didn’t look like Kim.
Our interactions simply made me laugh. They calmed my frantic afternoons and added a spark of fun to my rushed coffee runs between classes, but I was always afraid that she would be devastated if I told her two years after our first meeting that all of our interactions were based on a lie. I looked forward to our Entropy+ interactions too much to break the routine.
As I left for class, I often heard her greet the person behind me in line with the same enthusiasm: “How are you doing today, sweetheart?” followed by the student’s name and a sincere compliment. She made each student’s day, one interaction at a time.
I was too caught up in knowing that Morris actually cared about me and the other students on campus to correct her errors. While I have never encountered an outright cruel CulinArt employee, Morris set herself apart with her ability to truly connect with students. Most employees don’t make the same effort to interact with students the way Morris did, unless you count asking whether a meal will be paid for with a block or DineX.
But now that she is gone, did my neglect to correct her about my name or ancestry even matter?
As I try to imagine a post-Morris CulinArt, I envision a world in which George Orwell’s 1984 meets a post-zombie apocalypse era: a manifest of caffeinated students mechanically hunkering through Entropy+, somewhat lost even though they are in a familiar place, as if they are wandering through an old home without sunlight.
As the student body wanders through the new campus dining darkness, it will be hard not to miss the way Morris made our days sunny with her bubbly persona, smile-stretching compliments, and most importantly, her natural ability to bond with students unlike any other employee.