Graphic by Nate Barton
Hundreds of people come and go at the Waves Cafe. I get to see all of them as they put their trays and trash away. Most of the time, they walk past without looking at me. Not that many people eat lunch with me. I even heard someone say I was the worst table at the Caf. But I beg to differ.
I am the most special table at the cafeteria. Not just because I’m always clean, polished and balanced on four legs, but because President of Pepperdine University Andrew K. Benton sits with me, often. I don’t know why he chose me or why he always comes back to me, but every time he comes to talk to his students, he chooses me to be the place of conversation, fellowship and friendship.
I have formed a unique relationship with my friend, Andy. I always have an open seat for him, and he always makes me warm with his company. When Andy comes to sit with me, everything changes. People light up when they see us. They send a friendly wave as they walk by, and some even stop by to say “hi.”
Sophomore Olivia Robinson said she’s seen Benton around campus often, especially in the Caf. She said she approached Benton and Dean Michael Feltner eating lunch at the Caf a week ago, and Benton remembered she was going abroad from a previous conversation.
“It’s not like he sits in his office all day, but he actually goes to where the most students are and makes himself accessible,” Robinson said. “He’s really interested in being engaged with us as a student body and not just learning about us through statistics or what other staff members say, but he’s actually trying to have a relationship with his students.”
As his table, I get to wait with Andy in the corner of the Caf until someone comes along with something to discuss or a concern to voice with the big guy on campus. It means a lot to me knowing that I hold a special place that links the student body to the president of their school.
Sophomore Devin Bristow said he has seen AKB in the Caf multiple times, and their conversations have opened new thoughts and challenged him to think about life more critically.
“He’s always coming up to me, and I’m always going up to him,” Bristow said. “I believe his conversations have enlightened me to the fullest extent of what it means to be Christian and what it means to spiritually develop myself.”
I like to think that I’m an insider on all the greatest secrets and big plans of Pepperdine. When the lights turn out and the doors are locked, the other tables gather around to hear what Andy said that day. You’d be surprised at how much we, tables, care about the school. But nothing compares to the care I have seen Andy express for his students. That is the greatest pleasure of being AKB’s table in the Caf.
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