Service Dystopia

Hunger Destroyed, Cooking at Home, Ian Spence

It’s hard to believe that a restaurant could be considered home to anyone, especially this restaurant. The beige coloured brick and oak trimmed walls create a seemingly warm atmosphere. Pictures and newspaper clippings of certain accomplishments and a family’s legacy found in glass display cases evoke an element of compassion. But what many people who walk through these doors don’t realize is that a monster lurks within the walls.

This monster is a product of age, loss, and grief. It is a product of many years of hard work, turned ugly by the incoming prospect of death. I believe that once, this creature was good. Like Frankenstein’s monster, it had benevolent potential; the newspaper clippings filled with stories of contributions to various charitable organizations prove so.

As the years push on, the divide between the monster’s sense of rationality and its innate cruelty becomes increasingly obvious. Rumors have flown through the building of the potential reasons, none of which have proved to be true. The monster’s motivations remain a mystery.

On one of its destructive rants, aimed at tearing down individuals and demeaning anyone it could, I heard it call this place “home”. I was confused at first, but after further speculation I understood why. I realized that its entire life is scattered throughout the building; not just in the pictures and newspaper clippings, but in the scuffed hardwood and the crumbling brick. It is found in the scribbled notes posted in the service areas and kitchen. It is found in the carefully chosen paintings that were originally hung in the café by the monster itself many years ago. At this mention of “home” I saw an almost human element in the monster; the way her eyes lit up and glazed over when she spoke of the building. It pulled my heartstrings as she looked somewhat hurt and defeated.

However, this moment did not last, as the monster quickly snapped back into the action of attack.

I still harbor a certain amount of contempt for this creature; I still cringe in fear when I hear it scream my name, and I continue to sneak by its lair to avoid confrontation. But that element of humanity I saw in its eyes will forever haunt me, as I know somewhere in its depths there lies the ability to love something enough to call it home.