The People’s Potato & the Plastic Paradox

Graphic Shoshana Eidelman

I was heading to the seventh floor of the Hall Building last week, making for the familiar lunchtime queue of students. Like them, I was eagerly awaiting scoops of vegan goodness from everyone’s favourite anarcho-syndicalist communo-hippie soup kitchen, the People’s Potato.

The main downside to the free fare the Potato has on offer is that it’s a victim of its own wonderfulness. At peak hours, you could spend so long waiting in line that you’d enter a time-paradox where you meet you own alternate self behind the counter serving food to everyone.

Thankfully the Potato has accounted for this, by creating two lines—one for those with Tupperware containers, and one for people using the kitchen’s own plates and bowls. The separating out of the lines means that those who aren’t contributing to the Potato’s dishwashing load get to move to the front that much faster—in theory.

As I passed the longer line, looking to reap the benefits of thinking ahead and bringing my own bowl, I glimpsed a plastic container. A mug. A re-used margarine container.

I must have stepped into some parallel universe. Everyone had their Tupperware, and they formed a line about three times the size of those waiting to use Potato-supplied dishes. The natural order of things had been set on its head.

What could I do? Joining the line of plastic suckers would only worsen the problem. Maybe, I thought to myself, I should correct things. Maybe I was the one chosen to bring balance to the Force.

I took a deep breath and crossed the threshold. A couple of go-getting early adopters followed suit, and a volley of dirty looks shot at us like arrows from the opposing line. I got my meal in a hurry, but that’s not the point.

The fact is that the fast lane is for the Tupperware crowd. We’re the ones that are cutting down the work the People’s Potato people need to do. How dare all those well-meaning do-gooders switch into our line, overwhelming the system with their own selfish bowls and containers? Where’s the justice in this world?

So this week, if you’re heading to the People’s Potato for lunch without your own container, have a heart; think of your fellow students, and stick to the regular line. The Tupperware users will thank you for it as they speed by.

— Colin Harris
Fringe Arts Editor