At brunch this past weekend, my fiancé and I headed to a favorite local spot. At Europane, you order in line, grab a seat, and wait for your food.
After ordering, we found a table that looked recently vacated. Alas, its former inhabitants left one coffee mug, a few used napkins and a plate with a whole slice of French toast adorned with blueberries and blackberries.
I stared. They just left this? My heart grew a tiny blackberry-shaped hole in it.
At the next table over, the older women sitting with a teenager informed us that yes, the people who had been there had left and they were done.
So we bussed the table and put all the dishes, along with the decadent-looking French toast, into the bins in the corner of the restaurant. Gone, time to focus on brunch. Except I couldn’t. I felt myself judging the mysterious wasters at the table before us. Thoughts of----Why didn’t they eat that? They could have taken it home and eaten it later. Did they not think (or care) about the energy and hours and water that went into growing the food, transporting it, and cooking it? ----all swirled through my brain.
Just about then my rational side kicked in. Who am I to judge their behavior? Come over and look at my fridge. I currently have leftover food from a party we threw a week ago and I’m not sure it will get eaten. I might end up doing that thing where I ignore my fridge as much as possible out of stress until that food goes bad and I have to throw it out. Whose waste is more wasteful? Mine? Or this ghost of brunch past? Are there any moral judgements to be made here? No, even if it feels like there should be.
And thus, I was forced to let go of my initial harsh judgement of the mysterious French toast wasters and step down from my moral high ground.
Plus, if they purchased that French toast (which I must assume they did, no cries of “thief” echoed in the restaurant), it was theirs to do with what they liked. If that includes throwing it out, isn’t that their prerogative even if I, personally, don’t like it? In our society, yes. Don't you think?
As I reflected later on this situation, I was struck by how seriously I considered just pulling the berries off the plate and eating them. I HONESTLY would have done it, but the social pressure of so many people in a public place stopped me. Boo to conforming to those social norms subtly drilled into me my whole life! Those berries would have been delicious.
And now, the photos of what we ordered and ate:
Yes, we ate all of it. We are hungry athletes who had just finished a run!