Salad bars in highly trafficked public places, does anyone really eat at these things?
I just came from my local supermarket, where I started casing the joint. To begin with, I was in the "Express Lane", which had a maximum of 10 items per shopper. Lane numero uno. Next to that was the "Fast Lane", which upped the limit to 15 shoppers. This is news to me. I didn't know we could categorize like that. What's next, the "Not So Fast Lane" for 25 items or less? How about the "Pretty Damn Slow Lane", 175 items or less. Do the checkers in the Fast Lane recommend people with 10 items or less to the Express Lane? And why not a "Look I Just Came Here For Some Dental Floss Because This Popcorn Kernel Is Killing Me Lane"?
Ok, so I digress...
On the other side of the Express Lane is a giant square salad bar. It's positioned right in the middle of traffic. You've got people with empty carts and screaming kids coming into the market, and people with full carts and sleeping kids leaving. You've got the crowd around the "Free Samples" table wolfing down slices of Chung King eggrolls from little white cupcake containers. You've also got the folks at the deli who have this blank look on their faces as the "Weekend Minds" try to make a sandwich selection from the 67 types of meat and 38 varieties of cheeses. Let's not even mention the bread choices. Trying to order a sandwich from the deli is like trying to do advanced calculus after being woken up at 2am.
Surrounding the base of the salad bar are these industrial grade green mats. They look like astroturf, sprouting from the root of the salad stump. The bar is a mess. You've got peas in the grated carrots, Russian dressing in the cottage cheese, and bean sprouts pretty much everywhere. How can someone walk past this mess and suddenly think, "Hey, you know, a salad sounds pretty good right now..."?
Let's see, salad is probably one of the fastest wilting food you can have. It's light green color can turn brown in only a matter of hours. Hey, let's put a table of the stuff right smack in the middle of things and see if anyone goes for it! Maybe there's a lettuce surplus or something. Maybe they're sick and tired of trying to stack these round heads of lettuce in the back.
To me, trying to make a salad from the supermarket salad bar is like trying to make a five course meal from a trash can. I mean, is that pale broccoli or old cauliflower? And do they honestly think I'm gonna sprinkle those Bacon Bitz on my salad. Lord only knows how many people have been walking by scooping up a handful. It's like Pork Crack. I should know, I'm a recovering Bacon Bitz-aholic.
And who's in charge of maintaining these salad bars? I've spent 20 minutes in line (that would be The "We've Got One Person Working The Register And 600 People In Line Lane") and have never seen anyone come by and clean the thing up. Comb the bean sprouts out of the corn. And the "sneeze guard", who invented that? If the Salad Bar Manager is that worried about people sneezing into the produce, do I really want to eat the stuff? The ergonomics are so bad on those things, I bet the design was taken from the sketchbook of the Marque de Sade.