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Food Snob or Just Lazy: Why The French Might Just Be Right

This is part 3 of a series of short stories from the counter of a retail store located in small town America. Observations on what’s missing for dinner because of  fast food and fast paced America. If you would like to read part 1 and part 2 , click on “Food Snob or Bad Manners” and “Food Snob or Dinner Disaster

Dinner at the counter standing up

As I walk through the store’s door I glance left. She is there. The nice cashier that works behind the counter. It’s dinnertime and I see her eating her take out food at the counter. I laugh a bit and then open my mouth and shake my head. Every time I come to buy something at this store one of the employees is eating at the counter. Again tonight it is the same story. Open aluminum cartons and Styrofoam at the place where the customers lay down their products to buy. A weird place for food to be. The employee’s main meal of the day eating standing up while ringing up customers. Counter staff taking money with a smile and biting into take out food at the same time.

Why do these employees love to eat take out literally on the job? Is it because they are too lazy to bring something from home? Why are they not allowed to take a short break at work and sit down and enjoy what they are eating? Do they have to eat in front of the customers? When I see scenes like this I feel like a food snob, because this turns my stomach.

As I walk up to pay for my items the cashier puts down her plastic fork and gives me a smile. So I ask her, “no more olives for dinner tonight?” (Last time I was in she was just eating a jar of olives for her dinner. Read the story here if interested.)

No, tonight is Chinese food. My husband was nice and brought it in for me.

Boy, you must have been hungry the other night, just having olives for dinner.

Yes, she said-I couldn’t sleep I was so hungry.

Why didn’t you eat some food?

Naa, I didn’t feel like getting up to eat. It was too late anyway.

I felt sorry for this smiling and sweet cashier. A boring job and stuck alone in the store, depending on her husband to bring her food. Doesn’t bring anything to eat in with her. Doesn’t cook at home when her shift is over.

Is she lazy? Or it is a type of food insecurity? Why doesn’t she have access to food at home and must rely on take out for dinner? Or maybe as two friends told me recently,

People just don’t even make sandwiches anymore. They think it is cheaper to order fast food.

I actually have another hypothesis which I will introduce in part 4. I’ll pre label it: Retail Eating Boredom. Tune in to see what that is.

One thing I will admit to you now: I find trends like this what is wrong about eating in America.  And I don’t think this cashier at the counter is the only one doing this. You wouldn’t see this happening in France. This may sound food snobbish to say this, but that is what I think. But I do have empathy for these employees because eating standing up at a boring job is just not eating with satiety. Eating with pleasure is what life’s little pleasures are all about.

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5 Responses to Food Snob or Just Lazy: Why The French Might Just Be Right

  1. Klem September 4, 2012 at 12:48 #

    Hi there, being a frenchie who spend a year studying in the US, to me main problem liens on the relationship Americans have with food. I have noticed that everywhere I go, people tend to consider food simply as a fuel, that would be avoided if possible. Also, the whole diet thing make american looking at food as an “enemy”.

    I think it is not the habit or whatever that need to be changed, but the relationship with te food

    • mbrighton September 6, 2012 at 15:10 #

      Hi Klem, Merci beaucoup for your insights from a ‘foreigner’ view. I agree with your comment, the relationship with food in America can sometimes be ‘unhealthy’, looked at as ‘evil’, food just as fuel and for not pleasure. However, in speaking around a table last night with friends, one friend (who is English but know the American culture very well through family and spending time in the states), she mentioned an important observation. If too many Americans were using food just as fuel, why wouldn’t more people just eat something to stop being hungry (basic things) rather than ordering takeout and eating something also for the comfort. I think Americans due use food as a fuel, but there is that complex twist that adds a comfort aspect that people crave but don’t know the habits and the tools to use it well. I can imagine that some of the food I saw the cashiers eating this summer, standing up at the counter was good, even tasting really good. The employees used to order from all different fast food and take out restaurants from the area. If you were only eating for fuel, I do not think there would be this care that goes into the selection of ordering what foods to eat. I think that bad habits have happened too long for some Americans, they do not know the sanctity and pleasure of sitting down at a meal, or just waiting with a hungry stomach until you CAN sit down to eat. Yes, the relationship with food in America is complex, but also the habit of sitting down to eat and take some time to relax have long disappeared.
      What do you think about this?
      Thanks for your comment. Keep reading!

  2. ~ The Lady in Red ~ August 5, 2012 at 14:16 #

    You are right – you SHOULD eat with pleasure….and that’s not standing up at a counter eating cold take-out or a jar of olives. Eating with pleasure should be something more Americans so. And it’s important to define what eating with pleasure is not. Pleasure isn’t gorging yourself on a bag of chips for a meal. Pleasure isn’t rushing to eat in a ten minute time span.

    There may be factors beyond this woman’s control here we don’t know about. Maybe she does not legally qualify for a dinner break so she has to eat while standing up at the counter. However, I can not comprehend why she is relying on someone else to bring her food when she is capable of shoving a yogurt and a banana in a bag on the way out her door.

    Americans HAVE gotten lazy. It’s easier to rely on someone to bring you food than to make it. It’s easier to take money out of your pocket and pay for food (no matter what it is) than make it. It’s easier to NOT make yourself a sandwich and bring it to work with you because you’d like to wake up 5 minutes later and walk out the door empty handed.

    Part of this culture of laziness stems from the ability of Americans TO do this. We have more disposable income than other cultures. If you go back 50 years in time even, it was more the norm for people to bring their lunches or dinners to work with them? Why? Because most people couldn’t afford to buy food at another establishment.

    I have not priced it out recently, but I’m willing to bet it is cheaper to bring food from home than eat out all of the time. And, if you could find cheaper food to purchase (like a jar of olives), then you are compromising your nutrition and quality of your diet.

    Even with this knowledge though, very few would change their habits. Why? Because they don’t have to. As long as someone brings this woman something to eat, or as long as she has the money to buy a jar of olives for dinner, she will continue these habits because she can. Sad.

    • mbrighton August 7, 2012 at 00:54 #

      Dear Lady in Red, Always inspiring comments, opinions and insights! That is why your blog is doing great! You see the big picture while trying to look at both sides. Thanks!


  1. Mary Brighton - August 4, 2012

    {Latest Post} Lazy, food insecurity, boredom or just lacking basic cooking skills. Whatever the reason, eating…

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