Consider your sauces: Notes from a senior

By Abigail Tetzlaff, Managing Editor

During a quick break from my job at the circulation desk in the library on Tuesday afternoon, I rushed over to Nabo to grab some lunch. I ordered three chicken tenders and some fries, then waited as I saw the the grill worker drop my order into the deep frier. As one usually does at Nabo when ordering fries and tenders, I took a few of those little plastic cups and filled two with my usual sauces, buffalo and chipotle mayo, and decided on my third, “wild card” sauce which usually ends up being ranch, mustard or ketchup. It depends on how I’m feeling that day.

The end of my penultimate semester nears. I have formulated after-graduation plans A through D; I have considered the applications, the letters of recommendation, the tailored resume for each plan. Each plan takes me to a different job, a different set of skills, a different amount of work or education, a different place.

As I was squeezing ranch into the third plastic cup sat before me, I came to the realization that the privileged freedom of sauce choice would soon be greatly limited. After leaving Augsburg, and in many senses outside of condiment choice, my time of exploration will end. I might never have the chance to stumble upon new knowledge because my chosen path shows me where I’m meant to put my energy and time. Instead of ten to choose, I may have only two or three. Probably ketchup and mustard, maybe some ranch once and awhile, sriracha periodically, but they will cost me: time and, most likely, money, like extra guac at Chipotle. My freedom to even try new sauces will vanish, just like my ability to join clubs and discover new intellectual subjects. Soon, my choices will be prescribed. The capricious moments encouraging bizarre combinations of sauces will turn into steps and means to a goal.

And I like having goals. I am good at meeting my goals. But the destinations I look toward in my future do not allow for many real, adventurous choices. Rather, I envision the thought of moving to a new city, the antiseptic delight of a sabbatical interspersed with hours spent looking at a backlit screen, clack-clacking toward early arthritis.

Sure, self-serve soda machines will allow me to be adventurous into my old age, pressing each of the levers against my cup until it brims with a brown, sugary concoction. But I’m afraid that the whimsy will have left me by then. That I will settle for an iced tea with a slice of lemon.
The sauces assure me that I am not yet manacled to one cultivated version of myself. Not yet. For a little longer, we can all enjoy our sauces.

This article first appeared in the Friday, November 17, 2017, Edition of The Echo.