Skye Sarac

One of the greatest challenges that college students face is trying to find a time and place to eat everyday. Amid the hustle and bustle of jobs, internships, and classes, it can be hard to find a place with a short enough wait time, especially in busier places like Talley, where there are usually hundreds of students, parents, and visitors congregating in one place. These factors have contributed to growing use of the Tapingo app, which allows students to bypass lines and pre-order food. While the reasoning behind the app may seem logical- after all, who wants to wait in a long line? The reality is that the app creates more problems than it is worth.

While Tapingo advertises itself as a convenient way to order food, the process still requires students to wait for their food to be prepared, and considering that NC State uses Tapingo at 12 different on-campus locations, there is likely a line of people already waiting for their own orders. The app also creates an extra burden for wait staff and food service workers, who already face the challenge of completing orders to accuracy in a high-stress environment.

For most workers, Tapingo orders and regular orders come in at the same time, which creates a confusing situation when trying to complete multiple orders which come through both verbal instructions from in-person customers and written orders from Tapingo customers. Additionally, the high volume of orders can also create confusion when students are trying to figure out which order is theirs, which could potentially delay the process of ordering. 

While Tapingo does allow students to bypass wait times in most situations, which can be beneficial when trying to get to class or work on time, the ability to skip waiting in line may be putting students at a more long-term disadvantage. This is because much of our everyday lives, especially as we acquire more of the responsibilities that come with adulthood, require a certain degree of patience. Although most people dislike waiting in line, the ability to tolerate discomfort and delay gratification are both skills that are extremely helpful in everyday life. Also, waiting in line doesn’t always have to be a bad thing- the proximity to people while waiting for orders could potentially result in genuine social interactions.

While some students might view the ability to bypass social interaction through the use of Tapingo as a benefit, this lack of interaction can also be detrimental to students. In just the short amount of time it takes to walk up and make an order, there is usually eye contact between the customer and cashier, and students as well and workers must use communication skills to ensure that orders are made and carried through correctly. In the adult world, everything from business deals to job interview to going to the dentist requires some level of direct social interaction, so the ability to engage in productive yet respectful interaction with people while actively communicating your needs is something that will benefit students in college and beyond.

On the other hand, the ability to order from a dorm room or another location could help in a variety of situations- for instance, if a student is sick and doesn't want to spread germs or if someone forgot their lunch and is running late for class. The Tapingo app is not a problem in itself, but just as with any app or service, it should be used in moderation, and for those who do use it, it may be helpful to consider the impact of its use on workers as well as other people around you.