"If you did not buy the lunch buffet, you will eat in the student lounge or you can buy a ticket for the buffet at the door for $9.00. If you bring your own lunch, you cannot eat in the cafeteria with everyone else."
I stared at the email for a few seconds in shock. As far as I knew, I was the only one planning on bringing my own lunch. I responded asking why this was and my adviser said that it was an open buffet, and they don't allow people in that didn't pay for tickets- the school's rules, not hers. This bothered me, and I immediately wondered, could this be considered descrimination against people with food allergies? But then I realized they probably didn't even think of those with food allergies when they made this rule, and I just let it go and accepted that I wasn't going to be able to sit with my friends.
By the time lunch came around on the trip, I figured I would ask if I could get in. After all, they wouldn't deny someone the right to sit at a table if they have food allergies and are physically unable to eat the food, right?
I looked around outside the cafeteria. There were no seats anywhere, just an empty hallway. As I was scanning with my eyes to find an acceptable place to sit down on the floor to settle in for lunch, my friend kindly insisted in paying for my ticket. As I handed the ticket to the same woman that denied my original access, she gave me a smile and said "You never know, our cafeteria is very allergy-friendly and probably has plenty of options for you! Just ask the attendants!" I smiled and said thank you.
But, inside I was enraged. She doesn't know anything about food allergies, let alone mine! As I looked around at the different buffet options, the only thing I saw that might have been acceptable if I hadn't brought a lunch would have been the salad bar. But upon closer inspection, everything was a mess and mixed together due to the self serve option, and definitely a hazard with my carrot and dairy allergies.
As I went to sit down, I shook my head in frustration. But while eating my own safe lunch, I happily ate my sandwich, knowing that I was safe, and I had friends looking out for me, even if the people at this school weren't.