An underrated first-year perk

An ode to Croads

Colloquially known as “Croads,” Crossroads seems to be the great equalizer for first-years. Despite its aggressively mediocre food options and never-ending lines, we collectively flock to O-Hill in the dead of night, motivated by blind optimism and dreams of Burrito Theory. Whoever came up with the name “Crossroads” must have been some sort of genius, fortune teller or at least a University graduate, because it’s where you inevitably cross paths with seemingly everyone you’ve ever met at the University. Hey, Sorority Sister Whose Name I Can’t Remember! What’s up, That Dude I Made Out With Once at Trin? Hello, Jack From Statistics!

While the unpredictable social scene may intimidate some, Croads is irrefutably a safe space. There’s no judgement when you roll in in your pajamas at 1 a.m. on a Monday night; I’ve even seen girls ordering chicken tenders and fries with green face masks on.

There’s also a regular cast of characters that you can always find there, such as — Guy That Works at Crossroads and is Totally My Friend. Despite not knowing your real name, I appreciate you! Thanks for always smiling and saying “hi,” then trying to make me pay you for the sauce packets (I know they’re free). There’s also my friend Annie Ferguson, the only person in this world who wholeheartedly believes that Burrito Theory (or, as she lovingly calls it, “B.T.”) is superior to “plebeian” Chipotle. Finally, there are the Castle loyalists, who are easily distinguishable as they waver between black beans and pinto beans when constructing their burrito bowls, and seem genuinely shocked when told that guac is extra. Rookies.

Most Crossroads excursions follow a similar pattern, but occasionally there are exciting breaks from the monotony. One time I saw a drunk guy order pasta, then proceed to trip and let it explode all over the floor. As he stared dumbfoundedly at the mess he made, undoubtedly contemplating if he could go and get another bowl and still count it as one meal swipe, an employee noticed the mess of marinara sauce and noodles that had managed to cover a solid three square feet of the floor. She ran out from behind the counter and yelled at him until he meekly stumbled out of the building, ashamed that Croads, allegedly a safe space, had betrayed him. Good times, go Hoos, am I right?

In times of great naivety, I have attempted homework in Croads’ white booths. Plagued by desperation for a change of scenery, the allure of seeing my friends and a sheer desire to procrastinate, I’ve wandered into the late-night eatery armed with my laptop and textbooks. But somehow the constant gossip floating around, greasy food passing by and people-watching hinder me, reducing my productivity to reading one or two pages of the 200-page novel I need to get through before English lit class at 3 p.m. the next day.

With the new all-hours schedule I could sit there for lunch, dinner and second dinner at 1 a.m. So many friends to see, burrito bowl combinations to try, so much time to waste. But is it ever really a “waste” of time at Croads? Monumental things happen there! Hypothetically, maybe you run into an old friend, who talks s—t for a straight hour and helps you ultimately get over an old crush. Or maybe you’ll meet your new best friend. Or maybe you’ll simply escape the stress of classes and college life for an hour (or three). Regardless, to me it seems like an efficient use of time.

Next year, we probably won’t be willing to make the hike all the way back to New Dorms just to feel the nostalgia of our old, late-night eatery. Actually, Annie might, as she would do nearly anything in the name of “B.T.,” but she’ll likely be the only one. So revel in the novelty of being able to get almost-decent food for a single meal swipe, at a place where you know everyone and everyone is your exact same age. If you stop to think about it, Crossroads is one of the best perks of first year.

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