Midnight Snack: Dormers’ hunger survival plan

He stood beside the door frame, his hands clutching the cold iron grills. A yellow wall clock told him it was 11:20 p.m., still early for dormers of Ipil Residence Hall. He scanned the street lined with night lamps, searching for a familiar figure—a plump woman wearing a cap, and driving her signature yellow motorbike.
Kiall Francis Suazo fiddled with his straw purse, the clinking coins signaling his growing impatience. Then, a beam of light emerged from the street corner, flooding the gloomy sidewalk. It turned towards Ipil, casting a pool of yellow light on the side steps. The roaring of engine followed the beam of light, and behind the handle bar, sitting on a yellow motorbike was Ate Bermonts.
“Who owns the foot-long and cheese fries?” Ate Bermonts asked as she carried her plastic box full of orders wrapped in red and white plastic bags. A chubby dormer paid her and took the order.
Kiall squeezed himself through the crowd and approached Ate Bermonts. “Mine’s cheese burger and barbeque fries,” he said, stretching his hands to reach his order. She handed it to him, just on time to catch the coins from another customer.
Several dormers jostled one another, so Kiall had to slither his way out, his midnight snack safely nestled on his hands. He sighed as he entered the lobby, and behind him was Ate Bermonts struggling to appease a hungry mob.
To dormers in the University of the Philippines Diliman, midnight snacks are silent witnesses to long hours of review and paper writing. It is common to see greasy burgers, flavored fries, foot-long hotdogs and bottles of soft drinks on midterms and finals nights. These are students’ secrets to keep themselves awake while digesting chapters of equations and concepts.
Such market of nocturnal dormers in UP has become a loyal customer of a university-based food company—Bermonts Food Inc. Bermonts is one of the first things freshmen learn in Kalayaan Residence Hall, and the last memory graduating students have of dormitory life. To students, it is the cheapest and fastest way of satisfying a churning stomach. They just text their order and wait for Ate Bermonts’ confirmation. After 30 minutes, they find themselves competing with other dormers to get their order, which is delivered free.
“In Kalai, we found a receipt in the drawer of a floor mate which also looked like a menu. There’s a price list, and a contact number’s on top so we tried to order. That’s how I discovered Bermonts,” Kiall said, munching his cheese burger while he flipped the pages of his Biochem readings.
He said their entire floor ordered every night, so they made a Bermonts Committee, in-charge of getting orders and payment. The duty rotated among themselves with at least a pair working for the floor each night. The Bermonts men hopped from room to room to record individual orders. They text the collated list to Ate Bermonts and start collecting payment after she confirms. When the order arrives, they get it and distribute the food to the floor. They get the free foot-long hot dog and cheese fries that come with orders above 300 pesos.
Kiall crumpled the plastic wrapper of his cheese burger and threw it on the giant trashcan outside his room. He looked satisfied as he tucked the receipt on his cabinet door; it joined over 50 others, fluttering because of his electric fan. He scanned the piece of paper as if deciding what to order next—tacos, ham and egg sandwich, foot-long sandwich, fries, cheeseburger, hamburger, mojos, soft drink, tuna sandwich, chicken sandwich or spaghetti. He took his purse and peeked inside. He still had 50 pesos, more than enough for another round of Bermonts.
He grabbed his cell phone and typed “spaghetti” on the keypad. After less than five minutes, his phone beeped. It was Ate Bermonts confirming his order. She said it might take her longer than usual because she still had to deliver orders in Kamia Residence Hall. Kiall told her he would wait.
After 40 minutes, his phone beeped and Ate Bermonts said she was on her way. Kiall took his 50 pesos and dashed out of his room to get his order, leaving his cell phone on his desk. After a few minutes, a second message appeared on the screen: “I’m already outside Ipil. Please claim your order. Thank you very much. –Ate Bermonts :)”
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