By ERIC STEIGLEDER
On Sep. 29, UMW sophomore Luan Cao took a bite out of his sandwich. As he looked down at his food, Cao realized that would be the last bite he would take.
“I took a bite,” Cao said, “and a cockroach crawled out of the lettuce.”
Cao had gone through the sandwich station in the Eagle’s Nest minutes prior, and had headed back to his dorm room in Alvey to enjoy his lunch. Like most students, he watched as his sandwich was prepared, yet did not notice anything out of the ordinary.
“I watched the entire thing,” he said. “I didn’t see any cockroach.”
After seeing the insect, Cao promptly spat out the food, wrapped everything in a brown bag, and took it back to the Nest, where he explained what had happened.
“I took it back to the Nest,” he said. “And they let me get whatever.” Deciding against the sandwich line this time around, Cao opted instead for two pieces of free pizza.
While such an occurrence may easily frighten and repulse those who frequent the Nest, Cao was understanding about the situation.
“What happened to me was a one in a million chance,” he said. “The only thing that concerns me is that they didn’t close the station after it happened.”
John Dering, general manager of dining services on campus, was initially unaware of the incident prior to the request for an interview. However since then, Dering has been in contact with the distributor that provides food to the college.
“The Nest does not have cockroaches,” Dering said. “This was just an isolated incident.”
There have been no other public reports of cockroaches found in food either before or after. The problem, according to Dering, was a mistake on the part of the distributor.
“We receive our lettuce in cryo-sealed packaging,” Dering said. “If anything got inside, it happened before it arrived here.”
Students, however, may prove more fickle.
Amanda Pullen, a junior, was visibly taken aback by the news.
“That’s disgusting,” she said. “I moved off campus to get out of the meal plan for a reason.”
Sophomore Ryan Forbes, a frequenter of the Nest, had a different take on the matter.
“It’s kind of foul,” he admitted, “but worse things have happened.”
On the Rappahannock Health District’s website, high on the list of possible “suspension of permit to operate for imminent health hazard,” violations was a pest infestation violation.
However, a single cockroach in a sandwich does not a pest infestation make.
Lisa Hill, environmental health supervisor for the Rapphannock area, said EHS inspectors would typically recommend restaurants where pests were found contact professional pests removers.
As for Cao, even though the odds are strongly in his favor, he has not eaten a sandwich at the Nest since.