There. That got your attention, didn’t it? Well, I saw an example of it last night.
Job #2, as many of you know, is at a restaurant. I work three shifts a week, and whereas I was a delivery person last go-around, this time I am up front most of the time: running the register, greeting and seating, making sure there’s plenty of food on the buffet, etc.
Last night, a married couple and their son (who looked to be about 9 or 10) came in to eat. The man and his wife were rather large, but that’s not out of the ordinary these days: being thin is out of the ordinary these days. So that’s not what turned my head, and my stomach. It was something else I saw.
After they had been there a while, and by the plates on the table, had obviously already been through the buffet line once, I saw the wife coming back to her table with a plate piled high with food. The food stuck up a good six inches off the surface of the plate: I am not exaggerating. She probably had the equivalent of an entire medium (12-inch diameter) pizza on her plate. Of course I wanted to believe the best: “She’s probably bringing food to everyone at the table: one of those ‘oh while you’re up’ kind of things.” But no. Moments later, the husband returned to the table, his plate laden in similar fashion. Then the son followed suit.
Why, I wondered? Were they worried the other patrons would eat up all the food, so they had to make sure to bring the entire contents of the buffet back to their table? (It’s not like the kitchen isn’t constantly bringing out food or anything: no chance of the buffet “running dry”.) Could they be that hungry? I know that if I allow myself to eat four slices of pizza I’m feeling really bloated and gross. I cannot imagine eating 8-12 slices!
But it didn’t stop there.
There were more trips to the buffet, each time with the plates piled high as they were the first time I saw them (which, you will remember, was not the first trip they took to the buffet).
I wanted to go to their table and tell them they’d better be setting the money aside now for their young son’s bypass surgery, because the habits they were teaching him were going to put him in the hospital by the time he’s 18. If they were getting him drunk, there would be criminal repurcussions. But stuffing him with food? That’s just all in good fun.
I don’t think it’s fun. I was an overweight child and an overweight teenager. It was not fun. The complications of obesity for that child will not be fun. Besides the aforementioned heart disease, there’s high blood pressure, diabetes, joint problems, reflux, a whole host of maladies. And that doesn’t begin to cover the ridicule from other children, the inability to participate in sports, etc.
It used to be that buffets had signs that said “all you can eat.” When I was younger, most of them changed it to “all you care to eat” because “all you can eat” was taken by many people to be a challenge. Nowadays, “all you care to eat” doesn’t work either, because people “care to eat” way too much! I know many people (such as my mom) who will not go to many of the buffet restaurants (such as Barnhill’s) precisely because they have witnessed too many scenes like this and it makes them ill. The question is, what is it that makes some people “care to eat” so much? What is it that makes three or four plates piled high with food, Super Size Fries, fried Mars Bars, etc., appealing? Why is it that “going on a diet” for most people means changing eating habits for a limited time only, instead of eating wisely all the time? (Sure, everyone “needs” a slice of cheesecake every once in a while, but no one ever needs to eat the entire cheesecake.)
Is it depression? Ennui? What? Help me figure this one out.