2B Wednesday, February 8, 2012 The Statement
THE JUNK DRAWER
Wedesdy, ebrar 8,201 //Th Sttemnt 7BE
Rolling your own burrito
from last week: teach for america random student interview
by laura argintar /illustrations by jeff zuschlag
Do you think Teach for America should charge schools
an extra $3,000 for each corps member hired?
"The more important question is not whether $3,000should be spent on
school supplies, but whether that investment would better improve student
achievement than student placement with a TFA teacher... The goal of edu-
cation is not to protect the jobs of low performing or ineffective teachers."
"We need to find ways to raise the retention rate of teachers, not lower
Welcome to the Random Student
Interview, where we run around
without clothes on.
Hey, what's up? How are you
I'm good. Kind of a rough morning,
what about you?
A lot of the same. I got a stupid
parking ticket this morning on
North Campus. Do you think I
have to pay it?
Oh man, they get you every time up
there! I go to the School of Art &
Design and I always get them. It's
the worst. You can pay them online
though. I know because I get them
so frequently, it's my homepage.
I'm pretty sure I give Ann Arbor
more money than the actual tax-
Any special plans for Valentine's
I don't know yet. I'm probably
going to eata lot of chocolate that I
Are you seeing anyone special?
He's definitely "special," but you
know, nothing special.
I wonder how he got into the
University ofMichigan, then.
How long have you guys been
together? Long enough to score
some good Valentine's Day gifts?
I wouldn't be expecting anything
radical from this guy, butI also
wouldn't turn anything down
What have been some of your
favorite Valentine's Day gifts
that you've received in the past?
In the fourth grade, Cody [redact-
ed] gave me two Starbursts and a
tattoo necklace. It was pretty awe-
Did you end up dating him?
No, he broke up with me like two
weeks later for Jiovanna [redact-
ed]. I'll never forget it - clearly,
since I remember both their full
names. It really traumatized me. I
stopped eating Starbursts.
Ouch. What is the worst gift
you've ever received?
Does no gift count? One time I
received a gym membership, which
I really cannot believe that. How
does that even happen? Who
were you seeing?
I know. There's a story behind it,
but basically I kept going to my
sister's gym as her guest and I
had been abusing the privileges
for weeks. She was only allowed
maybe five guest passes and I think
I went 15 times. So finally, after
flirting with some of the guys at
the front desk, they gave me a free
month membership as a mock
"Valentine's Day gift" incentive.
Do you still go? Or more impor-
tantly, do you pay?
I kept going until the summer
months began when they pretty
much cornered me and were like
"OK, this has been fun watching
you run around in short shorts, but
seriously, you have to start paying
for a membership now or we're
gonna start kicking you out." I was
too embarrassed to go back after
that, so I switched and started pay-
ing for one closer to my house.
But you weren't embarrassed
,about running around in short
You do what you gotta do. It
worked for a while. And it was
totally worth it. (Laughs) I was,
like, 17, and I thought it was cool.
Interesting. Have you heard
about the Walk of Shame Shut-
Yeah, I saw it posted on someone's-
wall on Facebook. Sounds like a
great idea. I want to use it to go to
breakfast or something afterwards.
I think it's pretty genius, but I don't
know if I'd actually use it or just
call a friend.
It also sounds mildly unsanitary.
Yeah, I guess the driver would
have to seriously wipe down the
seats after each customer. Also,
gwouldn't want to be up in the
morning that early to take kids .
home. Normally if I sleep out, I
don't stay past 8 am. j
Well, if it's a Fridayyou could
just try to blend in with the kids
going to class. Or you could park
your car some place close to the
house and drive home - barring
you don't get any parking tick-
ets, that is.e
- Samantha is an Art & Design
seingo as O o oudpr
A day at the mercy of strangers' food suggestions
By Chloe Stachowiak
've never been to The Chop House.
When I'm rushing to or from class
with an empty stomach, Thai food
doesn't even cross my mind. Like
many of my peers, I reach for a sure thing
when I'm hungry. In fact, my Ann Arbor
eating is almost exclusively limited to a
handful of sushi places (depending on
which one I'm closest to) and the- occa-
sional salad from Panera. I rarely branch
out from this handful of restaurants, and
when I do, it's usually with a friend who
is, for whatever reason, sick of sushi and
But I can't help but think I'm missing out
on something - that an entire world of cafes,
sandwich shops, and restaurants exists out-
side my tuna roll and chicken salad palate.
After all, aside from a few office buildings
and parking structures, what is our down-
town district but a mecca of upscale (and
overpriced) eateries? Am I the only person
in Ann Arbor who doesn't take advantage of
these dining opportunities?
I decided to seek out these answers the
only way I knew how: by putting my appetite
in strangers' hands. For an entire day, Iasked
people off the streets where to go for each
meal and what to order - no Panera allowed.
My Saturday morning started on South
University Avenue. Though I was sport-
ing bleary black eye makeup from the night
before, I didn't shy away from asking for
breakfast suggestions from the trendiest
person I could find: a Burberry-clad woman
in sunglasses who was the perfect comple-
ment to her breakfast suggestion - Sava's for
the Parfait French Toast.
Though I'd never stepped foot inside
Sava's, I should have known that the
woman's appearance was a precursor to
the classy establishment awaiting me. The
leather gloves. The oversized shades. The
lipstick at such an early hour. This woman
obviously leads a classier life than I do, and
this unfortunate truth unveiled itself the
second I stepped inside the clean, crisp and
well-lit restaurant. Everything was just too
The French toast I ordered was just as
intimidating as the ritzy atmosphere, piled
high with creamy yogurt, artfully arranged
berries and pompousness. Nothing about the
flavor itself wowed me. Despite the glamor-
ous appearance and price tag, it tasted exact-
ly like a piece of bread smothered in dairy
So maybe the dish wouldn't be showing up
in my dreams anytime soon - a phenomenon
my waiter had claimed to experience regu-
larly. But at least it looked pretty.
My next meal felt a little closer to home,
thanks to advice from a group of students I
met taking a smoke break on a Kerrytown
"You have to go to Jerusalem Garden,
get the falafel sandwich," instructed the
leader of the porch posse, shielding her
bleach-blonde hair from the wind. "And
you have to get it with hummus and hot
"It's just an Ann Arbor original," added
her hairy friend in a voice as serious as his
grizzly beard. "It's not like one of those
cookie-cutter pita chips and hummus plac-
es. You can get that shit anywhere in this
The small, sunny restaurant was a nice
change from the spread of Sava's, but Istill
felt a little bummed at my porch friends'
It's not like anything was wrong with
the food - the hummus was creamy and
the falafel deep-fried to perfection - but
my time there just didn't feel out of the
There was no mystery, no stressful-
yet-exciting hunts through the menu, or
the "let's all order different things so we
can share" deals among groups of friends.
Everyone there knew exactly what they
wanted and what they were getting.
What's the fun in that?
Lunch was a little less inspiring than I
had expected, but I had faith that my luck
would change when dinner rolled around.
Maybe someone would instruct me to go
somewhere fancy, where patrons wore
real pants in lieu of leggings and entrees
cost more than six dollars. And maybe, just
maybe, that place would serve medium-
But it seemed that fate and I just weren't
on the same page. My dinner assignment
was Panchero's Mexican Grill, the home of
midnight munchies, belligerent conversa-
tions and everything that comes with an
embarrassing night of South U partying. A
low price and DIY thrill, according to Sam,
the curly-headed guy I met outside Espres-
so Royale on State Street.
"The townie secret is to order a side of
beans, rice and a tortilla," he insisted, "and
then just make it into a burrito yourself.
It's cheaper than just ordering something
off their menu."
Needless to say, I was skeptical. What
could the fast food Tex Mex place offer me
that a local restaurant couldn't, especially
when my BAC was "in the blue?"
Admittedly, my Panchero's experience
was almost exciting at first. I felt like I was
cheating the system as I stood behind the
burrito bar. At any moment a cook could
point his leathery finger and expose me for
the penny-pincher I was. But that never
happened, and it only took one bite of my 4
makeshift burrito to drain its badass thrill.
It was as lackluster and bland as it sounds
- a mushy pile of.carbs that lacked even
the simple touch of cheese or salsa. This is
what townies eat for dinner?
And, like that, nine hours and 25 dollars
passed me by. The part of me that wasn't
totally bloated felt tinged with disappoint-
I didn't once walk inside a European
breakfast cafe or swanky Indian restau-
rant. I still don't know what Ethiopians
eat for dinner, and the fabled Chop House
remains a distant stranger - hell, I didn't
even get close enough to the restaurant to
peek in the windows.
But maybe that's the point. Maybe
there's a reason why students feel uncom-
fortable in unfamiliar and expensive
breakfast places, flock to the same Medi-
terranean places for falafel and opt for
cheap "Mexican" dinners instead of dish-
ing out a day's paycheck for a meal.
Eating out might be more about com-
fort of routine than broadening horizons
and palates, about playing it safe with old
favorites rather than taking chances on
the exotic and unknown. So unless my
parents are in town to treat me to din-
ner (in which case Main Street awaits), I
think I'll just stick with my usual Panera .-
salad and sushi rolls. I order the same
ones every time.