December 17, 2008

Any Buffet But Old Country

I like eating out at restaurants of all different styles and food types, even the occasional buffet. But I can no longer handle Old Country Buffet.

During my work day, I often deliver nursing supplies to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Since my normal area is Ocean County, there are a number of these that I visit weekly.

I've learned that, for the sake of my own sanity, to avoid the residents and, if at all possible, what can be considered their food.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing old people or those who can't take care of themselves anymore. As one employee told me, she thinks of each of the residents as "someone's grandma" to help get her through the day; I applaud this woman, her compassionate coworkers, and even the poor residents who may not even be fully aware of their surroundings.

But I must admit, at times the residents creep me out a bit. The ones who aren't all there, anyway. I can be friendly with anyone for a few minutes, that's my one superpower. But it's hard to be friendly with someone when they're unresponsively drooling. Or making a bodily function in public. Like I said, creepy. But I do my best. Luckily most of my business is in the industrial areas of these facilities, or maybe at the front desk.

Unluckily, it's in the unseen areas that the foodstuffs are readied or, most horribly, discarded. I don't know what it is about that stuff, but it's all goopy (I suppose so one has no need to chew). And the smell, sweet baby Jesus, the smell...

Long story short, today I was getting new tires and front brakes on my car, and found myself in need of lunch. Within walking distance was a Wawa and Dunkin Donuts, both of which I visit a few times a week during my workday, so I opted for something different. There was also Burger King and KFC, but I usually don't opt for fast food unless I'm in the mood. That left chinese and Old Country Buffet, 'Haven't been to Old Country in a long time, buffet sounds nice' I thought to myself.

I was the youngest customer, the next youngest were probably my parent's age. Everyone else was old. Normally that wouldn't bother me in the least, but all the food had that no need to chew consistency. I suppose this put me in a frame of mind to think of old age homes, I started to see things, notice things that I'd otherwise hardly pay any attention to. Like the guy sitting at the table directly in front of me, who wore mashed potatoes on one corner of his mouth for several minutes. Or the guy who wore his heavy coat and Sinatra-style hat throughout his entire meal.

It was like a horror movie, instead of fixating on drama or gore, I was traumatized by symptoms of old age and loosing one's faculties...and sub-par lunchroom food.


Post a Comment

<< Home