The Menu Never Changes

th-1My name is Miguel and I’m Employee of the Month at Glencove Residences. That’s my picture hanging in the lobby. That’s me on Channel 900. The residents check Channel 900 religiously before coming down to the dining room unaware that the film they’re watching runs in a continuous loop 24 hours a day and is only changed once a month when another Employee of the Month is chosen.

My job is manager of the dining room, which means I hire the waiters and waitresses, assign shift hours and serve as Maitre’D. We try to make the residents feel as if they’re in a four star restaurant with cloth napkins, china, silverware and of course, a full menu although it never changes. For lunch we serve various sandwiches and soup. For dinner residents can choose between the breaded shrimp, the bacon cheese hamburger, the broccoli and cheese stuffed baked potato and the all-beef hotdog however they can pair their entree with many different sides: tater tots, cubed sweet potatoes, and creamed spinach to name a few. We do offer daily specials: Monday is meatloaf, Tuesday is scallops and so on. Today’s special is very popular: prime rib roast which we will chop into small pieces if a resident asks us to. Along with entree and sides, they can select a first course of either salad or soup. And of course dessert. Our residents love their sweets.

I’ve been working at Glencove for five years now and I’ll probably be here for many more although I’ll always be just the dining room manager. My children don’t understand. They think I should be more ambitious. But they’ve never worked in a restaurant where hours change constantly and you can work your hardest only to watch a restaurant go out of business because of mismanagement or worse. That will never happen at Glencove. My hours will never change. I arrive at 10 most mornings. And by 9 pm I’m home. These are unheard of hours in the restaurant industry. I’m a happy man.

Then why do I need to talk to a shrink? Okay – therapist.  I don’t know what the difference is but here goes.  Lately I’m been feeling dizzy. You know that feeling you get on a fishing boat on rough seas. The world seems to be spinning around me and I can’t make it stop. And at night I can’t stop seeing them moving slowly towards me on their walkers as I hand out menus that never change. My doctor says there’s nothing wrong with me physically. So I gotta have some kind of mental disease, right?

Today I’ll have the soup and the roast beef. Then I think I’ll change things up with the creamed spinach instead of my usual green beans.

Even on Sunday, my day off, they move towards me like snails on a rusty treadmill. Sometimes one falls off but is quickly replaced by another face/name which must be memorized by the staff. Sometimes we know the fallen well and the waitresses will shed a few tears but in the washroom, not in the dining room.

In the dining room it’s just another day in which the menu never changes.


3 thoughts on “The Menu Never Changes

  1. Yes, very sad piece. All of us lined up waiting for Sisyphus to serve us the green beans and another dose of absent looks. I think this is one of your better ones. It’s transcendent, climbing out of a pedestrian level and the whole affair waits for us. Hopefully it will be short or maybe, with any luck, we’ll be dead before we hit the floor. As I read, I had this image that the person working in the cafeteria was a Mexican or maybe an African-American with a solid Christian background.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Duke. Reno always brings out the morbid in me. My mother is in a great place (she chose it because they have a bar!) but the face of the dining room manager/employee of the month haunted me for days after I got home – just this drowning, hopeless look. Yes Hispanic.


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