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‘Hey hey hey’: Ellery Hampton brings hospitality, humor to Allison Dining Hall

Ellery+Hampton+has+become+a+beloved+face+at+Allison+Dining+Hall%2C+where+she+has+worked+for+the+past+nine+years.+She+said+her+favorite+part+about+her+job+is+getting+to+meet+the+many+people+who+pass+through+Allison.
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‘Hey hey hey’: Ellery Hampton brings hospitality, humor to Allison Dining Hall

Ellery Hampton has become a beloved face at Allison Dining Hall, where she has worked for the past nine years. She said her favorite part about her job is getting to meet the many people who pass through Allison.

Ellery Hampton has become a beloved face at Allison Dining Hall, where she has worked for the past nine years. She said her favorite part about her job is getting to meet the many people who pass through Allison.

Sofia Rada/The Daily Northwestern

Ellery Hampton has become a beloved face at Allison Dining Hall, where she has worked for the past nine years. She said her favorite part about her job is getting to meet the many people who pass through Allison.

Sofia Rada/The Daily Northwestern

Sofia Rada/The Daily Northwestern

Ellery Hampton has become a beloved face at Allison Dining Hall, where she has worked for the past nine years. She said her favorite part about her job is getting to meet the many people who pass through Allison.

Sofia Rada, Reporter

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She is not an actress, musician, talk show host or reality TV star, but she has a catchphrase.

“Hey hey hey!”

Ellery Marie Hampton began working at Northwestern Mail Services 26 years ago. She has been working as a cashier at Allison Dining Hall for the past nine. She works there from Tuesday to Saturday, 5 to 8:30 p.m.

She explained she started greeting people with her famous phrase because “so many kids come to the dining hall that I didn’t want to say, ‘Hey, Hi, Hi, Hi,’ 500 times.”

Instead, she welcomes everyone at once with her three-pronged greeting, which she pairs with an open-mouth smile and bright, shining eyes.

She says she never gets bored. Her favorite thing about her job is the people. She loves getting to meet so many of them and satisfying her customers.

“I know quite a bit of them,” she said. “I just don’t know their names. I talk to them and ask, ‘How you doing? Are you OK? You ain’t tryin’ to jump off a cliff are you? Don’t stress. You can talk to me anytime!’”

Hampton’s love of people also extends to her co-workers.

“They’re good people,” she said. “My supervisors, my managers, I get along with all of them.”

This is a job she fought for and isn’t considering retiring from or leaving anytime soon. She got it after calling the human resources department, asking what positions were available and putting in an application. But that was not enough.

“I constantly called the human resource representative until he hired me,” she recalls with a laugh.

Besides Allison, Hampton has worked at Sargent Hall, Foster-Walker Complex and Lisa’s Cafe. When asked whether she likes Allison more than the other dining halls, though, she does not hesitate to answer, giggling, “Yes, I do.”

“I guess it’s because I’ve been there so long,” she said. “Once you become stable working in a place, you make the best of it.”

She said Allison has become a sort of family for her.

“Some of the students, before they graduate, you know, before they go home, they come back here.”

As for the food at Allison, she has no complaints.

“All of it is so good, but I’m just a potato eater,” she said. “The mashed potatoes, the sweet mashed potatoes. But I don’t really have a preference. I’m satisfied with how my co-workers cook.”

During her off hours, Ellery spends time with co-workers or heads to her office. A bulletin board hangs on its back wall. She has pinned up purple letters, which spell out “Love yourself” and “Be happy.” She has also pinned photos of family, friends and President Barack Obama along with notes, letters and greeting cards she has received from friends and students. And a clipping from The Daily.

It was written by Samantha Booth in 2011 and titled “A final tip of the hat, wag of the finger.” In it, Booth looks back on the NU experience by approving and critiquing different features of the university. The weather, for example, gets a predictable wag of the finger. However, what stands out from this clipping is the paragraph Hampton has marked with blue highlighter: “Tip of the hat to my favorite people on campus: the Blomquist mountain climber, the guy with the skateboard shoes who rolls up and down Sheridan, unicycle guy and Ellery. Hey, hey, hey.”

One of the notes Hampton has pinned is signed by “Allison Resident” and reads, “Ellery, Hey hey hey. Thank you for the constant hospitality, smiles, laughs and good times!”

What you will not find on the board are pictures of Hampton’s kids.

“(NU students) are why I don’t have any,” she said. “Cause I got so many.”

Email: sofiarada@u.northwestern.edu

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