One day last weekend, as we concluded getting something at Winco Foods, and the hour just went past 11:00 am, our appetite came calling. A sad result occurred. We were in a hurry to get home, and after a short discussion decided to go to: HOMETOWN BUFFET. It was close and would be quick, and, after all, isn’t the Fried Chicken there the one thing that’s really tasty? We arrived to find we were just on time to still qualify for weekend Breakfast Prices. These days, on Sat-Sun “dinner” rates begin at 11:30 am and “dinner” (as it’s called) is served all day. What did we save? $1.00.
That being said, we’d gotten seated, retrieved a selection of salad bites, a couple pieces of that chicken, began eating, then began watching the fabulous “dinner” preparations and clientele.
That is a sad thing, yes, we were observing the clientele here. I don’t want to be lectured to about what I’m saying about these people. I’m well aware of the reason many folks go there. They usually fall in three groups: 1) retirees on budgets, 2) food-addicted overeaters, and 3) entire immigrant families trying to save money. I admire Mexican families for example who always include their kids when the parents are not working. These people are very well known to value “family” over about everything. You say baby-sitters aren’t affordable? They would be as affordable as paying the tab for 4-5 little kids to eat out. In my Mom’s last years, she loved the Buffet because she could have a variety of foods at a reasonable price and eat immediately. She was one step ahead of assisted living at the time. Another memory here is that Rodger and I ate with my Mom at the Buffet and once with his Uncle and Aunt here from CA, and both of these families HAD money in their retirement account. With my Mom’s hard-line stance on honesty and ethics, and Rodger’s Aunt & Uncle’s views on why people were poor (they didn’t work hard enough), we still find it “interesting” looking back and remembering them stashing away sugar packets, napkins, anything not bolted down from these places to take back to their apartments for “convenience”. They would say, “Everybody does it.”
SO, I have NO right to comment on observed things at this place if I TOO am eating there, right? That’s probably a yes, BUT…………..
I wondered what the morbidly obese people making their way through the food lines think. Are they cringing at giving in once again to the irresistible appetite pangs they must have? Is it embarrassing to know that they are big enough that they’re hard to ignore? I saw two kinds of overweight people: 1) Tidy, well-dressed folk who are still believing or hoping they look okay, and 2) those who’ve gone over the edge and no longer seem to care. Some dressed in T-Shirts that don’t cover the entire stomach or pants that can’t quite get a grip around the entire mass of hip(s).
Then there’s the “help” at the buffet. Of course, I could complain that they don’t pick up plates fast enough, or some made-up whine, but as you watch these poor staffers try to negotiate a couple of hundred food-mad eaters filling/emptying plates faster than they can walk around the place, I feel sorry this must be the only job they can find. Meanwhile, the Management of this place seemed to keep congregating together and having little “chats”. One manager was forced to slice the dinner beef because someone had called in sick. How he whined while being forced to do something that was “beneath him” as far as HE was concerned.
The Utensils to get at the many choices of food do NOT stay clean. In the salad section the were literally sticky with food bits, and who knows WHAT bacteria from the hundreds of hands that pick them up every hour. While I’m getting at the salad choices and continuing to wipe my hands off on my Levis, I AM wondering this: “Now HOW good was that chicken we came in here for?”
The crowd that arrives between 11:00 and 11:30 on weekends to beat paying that extra dollar but still be looking forward to having sliced roast beef or ham must be unique itself. I CAN see my DAD thinking that very thing………”Well, Mother, we better go to the Buffet Today at 11:20. We’ll save a dollar and eat like kings.”
Negogiating this crowd was not always easy. I found myself conflicted between trying to be polite and standing there while people kept cutting in (and they DO, believe me) or saying, “When in Rome”……..and pushing in myself before that last Chicken Leg was gone. When getting in the Roast Beef Line, I saw they were serving some sirloin steak as well. Hm…I think, That’s what I’LL have…they looked fairly large, they are in a pan just brought out, so I say, “I believe I’ll try the steak today” and the unhappy Manager Slicer/Boss cuts off about a two inch square dried END piece of one steak, puts it on my plate, and says, “Well see how you like that, sir.” WHAT? So when they say they’re offering “steak dinners” now, remember that steak only gets on your plate if you keep going back about 10 times.
This was, in some ways, a sort of depressing experience. Folk’s behaviors weren’t the best, equipment was dirty (Where’s the Fox Channel’s “DIRTY DINING” crew?), and most food had no taste. So regrets we had by the time we left, and I suppose they were deserved. What did we expect?
At the same time, please remember, I bear NO ill will to the regular diners at these convenient GRUEL Outlets. They’re better probably than the cafeteria choices lots of these folks will soon have at Nursing Homes or Hospitals, they provide a fun time out for the kids of the “new” American families, and in some twisted way, I suppose, it was like going to the “Ultimate Food Fight” instead of Professional Wrestling. There WAS some entertainment in there somewhere.
Whew! I am trying to retrieve my social acceptability right now by working on a home-made Foccaccia Bread we started last night and has been worked over 3 times this morning so it can now rest about 6 hours before two more kneads prior to baking last thing tonight. I’m thawing out a rib roast, preparing some fresh asparagras, and making some home-made salad dressing.
Looks like somebody around here is trying to cleanse his digestive tract AND restore his spirit a little, eh?
So how was YOUR trip to the buffet? You truly claim you have NEVER entered this den of gluttony even once in your life? I apologize for my rant………………. / mark