The pink table next to my pink table had just emptied. An employee of Big Pink was cleaning the area while I was looking through the menu for my lunch. He stacked the plates and gathered the general debris restaurant eaters leave behind after a meal.
But the top plate left me speechless. Half a hamburger, untouched fries, and a pickle. I tried to accurately calculate how many average-size malnourished people this plate of food could satisfy.
I also wondered how common this unabashed wastefulness is for restaurant eaters. Do people who can afford to eat out regularly become so detached from the reality of food that they no longer understand the idea of finishing your plate, taking leftovers, or sharing? What about hungry babies, hungry children, and hungry people?
I felt like getting the employee’s attention and asking for this plate, which had already been paid for. Not because my heart was good and noble, but because I wanted a free lunch.
However, in retrospect, what I should have done is asked for it to-go. Then, on the walk home, given it to some lucky bum. Instead, I did nothing and the plate was carried off to the back and into the garbage. I can’t help but feel somewhat complicit in this gross display of wastefulness.