Forks

Close up view of a kitchen table fork isolated on a white background.
Close up view of a kitchen table fork isolated on a white background.

The place where I work is a large institution. We have three different cafeterias, in which you can have everything from a sub sandwich to rotisserie chicken to pizza straight out of the oven. It’s a state of the art facility with many unique procedures that have patients driving for hours to get here. In my department, we stay up with the latest and the greatest technologies to support the folks above. We are, literally down in the basement with the facilities management and a morgue. And in this state of the art facility there is one epic fail. Forks!

At this time, you will say that we should be using metal utensils that are washed and sterilized to save the environment. And you would be correct, but as the majority of us, we use their plastic forks. Being here for 13 years, I’ve seen some changes. Once the forks were located in the same type bins as the metal counterparts, sometimes they were just in big old box, where anyone could reach in, touch, sneeze or other things to the other utensils prior to you getting one. Perhaps they thought that was too convenient for employees to get to. Perhaps they were losing money on forks. With the advent of the “new” cafeteria, we got new plastic utensil dispensers.  These monoliths are meant to dispense one utensil at a time, which is great for most people when it works within its operating parameters, but now, after a year, they’ve become worn. Beaten. Some of them now eject two or three fork utensils at a time.

Having two or three forks thrown at you is disturbing.  I think of that scene out of Carrie, when she uses her powers to hurl knife projectiles at her mom.   Most people, shocked, go into a trance and leave the secondary objects lie on the counter, never to be used. After all, who would pick up a fork or knife strewn a counter? Why was it left there? What bacteria has collected from sitting on that hard marble surface? Did it touch the floor? Why didn’t someone just throw it out? How do you know something didn’t just use the damn thing and miss the waste basket?

There are too many questions to ask.   Forks all over the place. It’s like going into a fork battle ground, like those pictures from the civil war with dead bodies all over. I think I should see Abraham Lincoln standing next to the ketchup dispenser reading his address with a solemn face, and top hat in hand to his heart.

These forks have givin’ their all and they must be recognized. Ejected before their time, they lie here as a reminder of once was. Every time we visit this place we should say a prayer, for the brave utensils that made the ultimate sacrifice. This is holy ground.

 

I can almost hear a cafeteria worker crying softly throughout his speech, as she cleans the counter tossing them gently into the waste bin and then reloading a magazine of forks into the dispenser. The magazine empties again and the cafeteria worker loads another. “Is there no God, here Sir?” she says deep in her chest. Sad eyes. Weakened arms as she loads another magazine, and then the forks are gone again. Cleaning the lost souls from the marble, and wiping down with lukewarm water and germicidal bleach solution with a disgusting cloth. Her shift over and she walks home. “We lost many, but it was their finest hour.”