The search for personal satisfaction is perfectly illustrated at the all-you-can-eat, salad bar restaurant. Anyone who pays $6.95 for all the vegetables they can eat is going to try to stuff twelve bucks worth of lettuce into their face.
For the record, that is not a satisfying meal. That is the recommended daily requirement of roughage for an adult cow, and it doesn’t even take into consideration the quart and a half of Ranch dressing that is needed to swallow that much foliage.
The promise of getting “all you can eat” brings out the worst in us. If it happens to be steak night, you’re likely to find yourself in the middle of a feeding frenzy, the likes of which would put many shark species to shame.
The minute the salad bar opens, simple satisfaction is forgotten. Gluttony and self-centeredness rule the salad bar: sure, you’ve had three desserts, but please, God, don’t let that little girl take the last chocolate chip cookie before you go for fourths.
Truly, the salad bar restaurant is a veritable den of inequity. I once watched a woman slide an entire tray of crab cakes into her pockets. Okay, let’s forget for a minute that nobody in their right mind is going to eat a lint-coated crab cake that has rolled around in a pocket for an hour or so – the point is that the woman had committed petty larceny.
Had this been some bizarre, salad bar version of Oliver Twist – had she been truly hungry - I probably would have sympathized with her, but she had a diamond rock on her hand that was only slightly smaller than the roasted chicken she then stuffed into her purse.
She had begun her descent down the slippery, lettuce-lined path to darker crime. She was an average housewife, tempted by the invitation to serve herself crab cakes, and lured into a life of chicken thievery.
I don’t understand why salad bars are so popular. The food isn’t even good. It may be high on quantity, but it’s low on quality. Take, for example, the meatloaf, or as my children call it, the Mystery Meat. One of them accidentally dropped a piece and it bounced three feet into the air.
People don’t line up at the salad bar for the gourmet food, they line up because they think they’re getting a great deal. Who really wants to eat a chicken that has spent the last hour in a tanning bed? And does anyone actually enjoy waiting in line with dish in hand, begging for food like little Oliver: “Please sir, I want some more.”
Can you imagine if people lined up at the front doors of church on a Sunday morning, anxiously awaiting the all-you-can-eat church service? Can you imagine if they hungered for the Word as deeply as they hunger for macaroni and cheese?
The thing is, I’ve tried to imagine Jesus in line at the salad bar, but for the life of me, I just can’t see him bent over the bowl of salad greens with a pair of tongs, picking through it for the greenest pieces, and scolding the next person for jumping line. It just doesn’t work for me.
We are no different than Oliver Twist. It is human nature to always “want some more,” and being left wanting is not necessarily a bad thing. It has been said, “He that has satisfied his thirst turns his back on the well.” The same could be said of salad bars, or anything for that matter.
Take wisdom, for example. If you are satisfied with stuffing yourself full of facts, rather than savoring one truth at a time, you’re not going to have what you need to make it through the long haul. Alternately, if you take time to digest each piece of truth, you’ll have the power to get through whatever life sends your way.
I say ban the salad bar. Wipe them all out in the same manner that God wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah, and do away with this ill-conceived notion of self-satisfaction.
Replace them all with full service restaurants, real table linens, and cheerful waiters named Bob. Offer full service in the manner that God intended: with a smile. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Copyright 2004 Dori Knight