|My mother and me at a buffet before Covid-19.
Once upon a time, there was the American Buffet. The Americas bloom with hubs, casinos and family friendly spots, where one could have a run of the gamut of copious amounts of food choices. Some specialize in the Comfort Food Style or Country Buffet settings, while others, though a bit more expensive, could provide more extensive and charming foods like prime rib, lobsters, crab legs, custom made sushi displays, chocolate fountains and American versions of Chinese Food.
The sign that hung over the gates of Hell in Dante's Inferno,"Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here" is certainly the theme of the waist bands and waist lines of its patrons, at least for the night, because as much as we would like to think we aren't gluttonous in our ways, not limited to food alone, we are in fact liable to over indulge.
I myself, am guilty of such, though not even close to the 21 year old me, with a gang of friends, fresh from taking a ride in the car, on the desolate back roads near our Alma Mater, with the herbal remedies consuming the vehicle, making it a practical dutch oven of Marley's Muse. We then headed to the Golden Corral for dinner, a proverbial orgy of mastication, from soups, salads, entree after entree, desserts, more entrees and topping it off with ice cream, refills of soft drinks, coffee and waters with lemon...We were inundated with food, no one there to tell us "You've had enough" like we were too intoxicated to drive from the bar or had too much to drink, no safe words, emergency stop buttons or elder to reprimand us for putting too much on our plates, just full on satisfaction/misery for college work money well spent and participation overload, filled to the gills and as the moments ticked by, sick.
We weren't sickened by food borne illnesses, like E Coli, Listeria or Staph, but rather overindulgence to a fault. Back then, we possibly took for granted the assumption that everyone washed their hands, stayed home when they were not feeling well and were careful not to sneeze on or near other people or foods, remembered to cough or expel air into the curve of their elbows.
Reflecting, we had only one instance of such food debauchery at an "all you can eat buffet," of which we never took part in again, at least not like that. Those were the days...
With this new 'normal', the American Buffet has been all but decimated, definitely compromised and even more of a risky endeavor than before. We were already faced with the veritable lottery of illnesses and bacteria, susceptible to the preexisting conditions. With Covid 19, the gamble is such that the slightest carelessness, even on the part of other consumers, can prove fatal, or at least regrettable. From listening to the experiences of people I know personally who have contracted, fought and recovered from Covid 19, I think I'll take the 'mild food poisoning for 1000 Alex', the lesser of two evils.
With the Covidity of this situation reaching fever pitch, I feel that in order to save the American Buffet, many more safeguards must be implemented. I actually brainstormed some ideas of how to preserve its integrity, like requiring the patrons to wear disposable gloves when visiting the food stations, as not to transmit bacteria from handle to handle, no individual will be touching the actual handle, employees included. Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Temperature checks at the door is not out of the question. Some walk-thru ultraviolet light systems at the entrance would be nice. The sneeze guards would need to completely cover/separate the diners from the food items, with only the opening for the utensil, a small circle if you will, just large enough to get portions from the desired dish. I also think there would have to be a station that immediately washes/disinfects the soiled trays, eating utensils, drinking vessels and discarded napkins, with proper sanitation methods applied. It seems like a lot, but in fact a lot is at stake.
Consumers want to feel safe and a measure of comfort when venturing out to recapture some normalcy. Alas, this is indeed only a phase and I have full confidence in our scientists and doctors to arrive at a cure we can all stand behind, soon. Earlier, I mentioned the word (Covid)ity, I think I'll be the first to say, I coined this word to mean "1.) of dire importance, 2.) something that denotes the severeness of a situation or 3.) at the precipice of one's attention". The suffix ity, is defined as "the state of being something". This word is derived from the words and virus (Co)rona (Vi)rus (D)isease of the year 2019 or Covid 19 for short, (Covid is being presented as a noun per my definition ) which in reality is all of those definitions, and more.
(Covid)ity may be used outside of the context of the virus, to communicate a certain importance of any thing or event. This assigned definition of the scientific abbreviation gives us a takeaway that may be used interchangeably. One day, this pandemic will be no more, but embossed on our brains, in history and medical books, its Covidity, never forgotten.