You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone: Missing Sage Dining

Ethan Norton, Executive Editor

It’s 11:15 a.m. on a cold, windy, gross Thursday morning. I’ve just finished two exhausting outdoor classes and I want nothing more than to sit down to a warm plate of delicious tofu, seasoned peppers, and white rice. Maybe even a few Saltines and a crisp glass of Potomac punch to wash it all down. But what do I fish out of my backpack instead? Two greasy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches flattened between a lukewarm ice pack and a cup of fruit the size of my palm. I have never missed Sage Dining more in my life.

As we are all well aware, the Potomac community has suffered a tremendous loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic: Sage Dining. Gone are the days of delicious Swedish meatballs, personal pizzas, and Italian sausage and peppers. Tragically, as a result, the Potomac community is miserable.

We all thought we had left behind the gruesome days of lunch boxes when we came to the Upper School, but the torment is back. Like many of my peers, I equate opening a lunch box to walking through a haunted house; packed with meh surprises. Each lunch block, my advisory slowly unzips our lunch boxes together, peering in through the crack, hoping for a delicious serving of a meatball sub or chicken a la king. Instead, we are startled and terrified when we see a mashed apple and half a nature valley bar awaiting us inside. Across the aisle, we can hear Emily gagging on stale yogurt, and to the left, Hudson is literally fainting. We grieve the loss of grilled cheese and salt and pepper chicken wings.

Along with the return of lunch boxes, perhaps the worst part is the return of lunchbox envy and the resulting social hierarchy. Genevieve and I now have to sit and eat our chalky, dry turkey sandwiches while Caleb pulls out a juicy, medium-rare ribeye that his parents cooked for him the night before, with the au jus in a separate container so he can apply it in moderation. Not to mention the sauteed green beans and garlic mashed potatoes on the side. You can tell he’s the king of lunch just from the way he sips his tropical fruit Capri Suns, compared to our lame waters.

In fact, I hate bagged lunches so much, I’m now beginning to miss the parts of Sage Dining I used to dread the most. I miss waiting in line while some guy ahead of me scouts out the best 18 cookies he is going to have for lunch that day. I miss having debates with students on how to pronounce “gyros.” I even miss not having any Saltines for my soup, because they were all stolen by IS kids who thought they were so cool sneaking them back to their building.

While it’s easy to moan and groan about bagged lunches, I now know that when I walk into our glass-walled dining hall and see laden sandwich and salad bars, my favorite hot foods served, and the friendly faces of the Sage team, I’ll never take it for granted again.