From the week of March 15, 2001

Patty Whack

Snack attack: James Hibberd's story about Arizona State University student activists taking on their food service provider ("Big Mac on Campus," March 8) is noteworthy as much for its incisive writing as its convolution of certain salient details. In particular, Hibberd repeatedly conveys the sense that these are "spoiled" students engaged in the political equivalent of a "food fight" over the right to cheaper, better quality pizza and tacos. By portraying the issue as a food-court battle first, and as a moral objection to the private prison industry second, Hibberd inverts the nature of the challenge and misconstrues the intentions of the student activists driving the campaign.

In addition to their marches on the Memorial Union, these students have organized teach-ins on the evils of convict labor, published informational newsletters on the prison-industrial complex, and explored the possibilities of street theater and political propaganda. Regardless of the outcome of their current battle with the university, these students have already succeeded in energizing the campus and sparking a serious discussion on questions of corporate ethics. It seems to me that these values of compassion, justice and engagement with the world are precisely the sorts of lessons students ought to be learning in the pursuit of "higher education." For all of our sakes, such nascent impulses ought to be strenuously encouraged and not disparaged by the dint of faint praise.

Randall Amster

Angels in the Outfield

Tombstone territory: Apparently the posthumous concerns of the jock aristocracy differ from those of Joe Blow ("Angles in the Outfield," John Dougherty, March 1). Most decent, hardworking people I know will be remembered only by a grave marker. A stadium, a walkway -- whatever!

Lynn Antrim

Tips 'n' Sass

Server error: So it looks like the only way you can expect good service is to sit down and immediately start stuffing bills down your server's pants ("Tipper Score," Eater's Digest, Alex Neville, March 8). Did it ever occur to Mr. Neville that perhaps the reason the tip was small is that he already made a judgment about the customer and provided crappy service? Even business people with generous expense accounts will need a separate check so that they can submit the receipt for reimbursement. Anyone who assumes a woman is going to tip less is an idiot. And maybe I want my dressing on the side because you dump on enough to float the Titanic! Oh, and I'll certainly be sure not to verbally compliment you on your service since that would make you think I'm a cheapskate.

However, from my side of the table, let me give you a few pointers on what is going to get you a low tip or no tip at all: If I order a beverage and it never occurs to you to bring a glass of water also. If I'm not ready to order within your time frame and you disappear for an undetermined length of time. If you bring the order and you can't remember who ordered what. If you let our dirty plates sit on the table when we are clearly finished. If you let us languish in boredom long after we are finished before you give us the check.

I think you have forgotten that a tip is a reward for good service, not a part of your dinner bill. I tip well for good service, but I don't reward lousy service.

Cherie Randall

Poor tipper: Maybe I find this article, though amusing, and in some cases true, a bit insulting. I guess I feel that way as someone who tries to figure out the correct percent for the tip whenever I dine out. So maybe I do put off vibes that I need a meal out, and in something that I can afford. But I'm fair, and must I (and other broke people like me) always be judged? I'm far from being a "professional diner," but sometimes service just is not what it should be. I guess I judge good service on how quickly the server gets a glass of water on the table. If a server is having a bad day, I have little compassion. I don't want someone to kiss my butt, but I want someone who can handle four tables and help me in a timely manner as well. Is that too much to ask?

Jessica Jones
via Internet

Welcome Back, Ricotta

Cheese and thanks: I enjoyed your review about both Miracle Mile Deli (where I used to have lunch when I worked at Diamond's, now Dillard's, in the late 1950s) and Guido's, which is a relatively new experience ("Pastrami Dearest," Carey Sweet, March 8). It is the latter place where I received some exceptional service. I was advised to buy fresh ricotta when an Italian friend said it would make all the difference in my Christmas Eve dinner menu. I went to Guido's, also at her suggestion, and asked for a three-pound container of Polly ricotta. Guido's only had the five-pound tub available that day. Not to worry, the cheerful gentleman indicated. He went into the back room, came out with the five-pounder, removed the lid, slipped the container on the scale, and scooped out ricotta until the tub weighed exactly three pounds. Amazing, that kind of service, two days before Christmas, and with no tip jar in sight! Hurrah for Guido's, and hurrah for Carey Sweet for recognizing this fine place.

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