Would you like a heart attack with that, sir?
I am the postgraduate dream. I live on minimum wage; I have a flirtatious relationship with the poverty line. However, I think this is a karmic repercussion of my own bad choices. As a younger, less-worldly type I entered into a line of work - dirty, unrewarding work - from which I seem unable to escape: I kill people.
In the beginning it all seemed like good fun. Harmless fun. However, recently the inescapable truth has dawned on me. Hospitality is about killing people. Most of us are all too familiar with government propaganda about the perils of smoking and drinking, two activities frequently central to hospitality.
However, it’s not these which really grate against my sensibilities. It’s the fat that is propelling me towards a nervous breakdown. They haul themselves out of their cubicles and waddle in at least once a week. Very often they appear more frequently, their numbers certainly seem to be growing.
Sometimes I wish I could refuse them entry just as I would a drunk; after all there a number of similarities. The most glaring being their suspect capacity to make responsible choices for themselves.
Readers may be appalled at my attitude. However, if I was to continue to sell booze to someone busily drinking herself to death I wonder what the attitude would be then? Yet there is not even the mildest consternation when I provide the morbidly obese customer with yet another-calorie drenched meal.
I am on the frontline for an industry growing rich on fattening up its customers. Food is everywhere and is now the stuff of delusion rather than a means of keeping body and soul together. The popularity of shows such as Masterchef illustrates the strange place of food in contemporary society.
The show’s hold is built on emotional engagement with its wannabe reality stars. Across the course of a season, we can befriend, admire, or despise a showcase of different characters. Yet there is no reality here, at least not for the viewers.
All contestants know they are on show; they know the game, and act accordingly. Preparing sophisticated food is simply a colourful prop in a show entirely based on the celebrity dream: everyday people can become rich, better looking, and have a new life if they can successfully navigate a televised obstacle course.
Despite this major food themed fascination the increasing bulk of society seems to have little insight into how their food is prepared, where it has come from, or what its effects might be. Apparently they also don’t care: they just want lots of it and the sensual pleasures of consumption.
The transformation of mealtimes from a social occasion with attendant rituals, protocols, and restrictions seems nigh complete. Contemporary eating is more a matter of scoffing a shitload of calories and falling into a satiated stupor. Perhaps this is the fundamental problem behind obesity.
The life of the average person is slowly little else but consumption. Consuming food, booze, and televised transformations they will never make. Devouring a day’s worth of calories in a single plate - particularly in the form of saturated fats, accompanied by plenty of sugar and salt - is surely a form of self medication, a means of dealing with modern life.
Although eating out is social activity commonly imagined as enjoyable, it seems stalked by misery. Eating has become an empty ritual, but maybe it provides the only chance to feel some contentment in an otherwise crushingly barren day.
So, until the “invisible hand” of market forces sees fit to direct me to other employment, I shall go on feeding up my soon-to-be-dead customers. Together, we’ll continue living out the rituals of our mutual misery.
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