Friday, September 15, 2006

I cannot think of a title for this post as I feel so ashamed.

On Wednesday I called into Moto Lancaster Services on the M6 motorway in Lancashire. I stopped there for a rest and a bite to eat. I stood there at the hot food counter behind a couple who were being served. This couple moved away and a bloke came up to the counter and barked at the assistant that he could not find any butter and that the cashier had told him to come back to her. She went into her kitchen and brought back a box full of produce and gave him a number of portions. He then growled at her saying that these packets were not butter but margarine - "this is pathetic!" he declared as he stormed off. The assistant did not challenge or correct him and simply took his abuse in her stride and asked me what I would like. I fancied the hot roast beef with a Yorkshire wrap that was advertised and she told me there would be a delay of 7 minutes whilst she cooked my dinner, could I pay for it and then return to her counter. This was fine by me so I said OK and continued to the coffee counter. The staff were very busy whilst I waited at this counter when I heard a whisper at my side. "Please Sir" was the whisper I heard, the whisper you would hear a child say to a Headmaster before being whipped with a cane. "I am very sorry Sir " the assistant from the hot food counter continued to say "the Yorkshire wraps are in the fridge but the beef is all frozen". She looked at me as though I was a god who may decide to unleash a bolt of lightening from the heavens to destroy her. I assured her that was OK and I would have the all day breakfast brunch instead.

I was amazed at how servile her attitude was, food is subject to availability. When it has gone, it has gone. What is the big deal about butter or margarine? OK, I prefer butter rather than margarine but it is no big deal. OK, so my first choice of dinner was not available but there were other meals available and anyway, I like most UK citizens, am a few pounds overweight and a lack of a dinner would not kill me. Most British people do not know the true meaning of hunger or starvation. I felt so ashamed because of "butter man's" attitude and the fact that someone, somewhere else in the world would that day die through lack of food. When you are hungry or starving any food is welcome, very welcome to prolong your life and to relieve your suffering. It was only a dinner I was asking for, it would not cost me any pain if I did not get one. I have enough fat reserves to carry me through for a number of days without any discomfort. It was sad that this assistant was worried about any complaints coming from overweight gods who may put a complaint into management about some perceived lack of service. How this assistant did not stand up and say that this is all that is available, take it or leave it - I do not know. She is a saint but is probally not appreciated by the bullying customers who demand what is not available in her kitchen. Why should she be so servile to these overweight gods? "Butter Man" makes me feel ashamed at how British people can be so arrogant when other people in this world are starving - to death.

By coincedence there was a story in my newspaper today that sums up why I felt so ashamed at the attitudes I witnessed on Wednesday at Moto Lancaster Services...

Though she wasn't expecting visitors, Itidal al-Nazli, 35, was happy to display the sparse contents of her refrigerator. Despite the daily and lengthy interruptions to electricity supply since the Israelis bombed Gaza's only power station in early July, it's where she still stores the more perishable food for her family of 10 children. Yesterday morning, after the family had breakfasted on two large potatoes and an aubergine donated by a kindly neighbour, it contained six rather shrivelled peppers, a bag of coffee, three olives in a bowl, a bag of charcoal, and three bags containing crusts of bread.

"But now there is nothing. We don't have anything. The children eat the same food as I do - lentils and beans. Meat? We never see it." Sometimes, she says, neighbours give them handouts of a few vegetables and fruit. "I have no milk for the children," she says, rubbing her thumb and fingers together to show the problem is money and not shortages.
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