To Serve People Burgers. (1)

It’s 1 AM, and we’re in the living room of the cheapest apartment at the end of the furthest TTC bus line. Ash and Cam, two first-year culinary school students, sit amongst the Thrift Town plush of their living room and decompress with a (legal) Canadian joint after work at their externship downtown. It’s time to turn on some music.

Tonight we’re listening to Kimiko Kasai’s 1972 album “Umbrella.”

“You know, when you give someone good service with their burger, you’re teaching them terrible things.” started Cam.

“Oh?” Ash questioned.

“It’s like Pavlov’s dog.” Cam continued, “Pavlov was teaching the dog to associate a bell sound with food. We’re doing the same thing, but it’s the next step up. With us, the food is the bell, and we’re teaching people to feel pampered when they eat the food.”

“Um, okay,” squinted Ash, “You’re saying giving people what they order from us… is us training them?”

“Yes! We’re encouraging people to have an unhealthy and emotional attachment to food. They hit a bell, and we reinforce the behavior by making them happy. Get it?”

“I guess… but, isn’t that what a restaurant is? I mean, they pay us to do it. Doesn’t that mean they’re training us?”

“YES! It’s a vicious cycle! Positive reinforcements for negative actions!”

“Wait, what negative actions?”

“A cycle of emotional support for money and vice versa! We need better barriers to food access! We’re not making people better with friendly food service. The better change comes from within, and we should help people access that!”

“How should it work then? Should people have to hunt for their burgers?”

“That’d be something! Set up the restaurant so that you can get what you order, but only if you complete a series of tasks. If you get something wrong, you get a burger, but no fries. If you do worse than that, maybe you get, like, a chicken sandwich!”

“Feels convoluted. If you did this, wouldn’t everyone just go to a restaurant where it’s easier to get their food?”

“That’s why we need a return to shame and ridicule with service.”

“Ok. Explain.”

“Almost every delicious burger contributes in some way to global warming, factory farming, and poor work environment for migrant workers. Tomatoes don’t pick themselves. We need to remind everyone of this. Every time they enjoy a burger sandwich — others suffer. They can have it, but we need to be shaming them with every bite.”

“That seems, uh, worldly. But no one would go for a second ‘shame-burger.’”

“They would if it was the greatest shame-burger in the world.”

“Who would determine that?”

“Experts. You get experts to proclaim it the best burger in the world. People come in and get shamed. The world gets better.”

“No.”

“No?”

“A burger is not a sandwich.”

“Oh. I see. You’re just a raging ding-dong.”

This is a continuing story inspired by Vik, the terrible 1986 flick “Hamburger: The Motion Picture,” and the fascinating 1990 film “Mindwalk.”


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