Don’t Shit While You Eat
Death by Party | Golden Corral Employee’s Pre-Inspection Video
It was 1993 and I was with my family on our annual car-ride to Mexico in my American grandfather’s conversion van. We were near the tail-end of driving-day 2 (out of a 3 day drive to visit my Abuelos in Monterrey) near Waco and the early Nineties Texas sun was pushing my family to the brink. It didn’t help that my late grandfather, a truck driver, had a penchant for driving down lone Texan highways with the window open, half naked, and with a flag of sweaty clothes hanging out of each opened window. The summer sweat from that trip alone put a catalyst in my still not yet gone pre-pubescent baby fat. If it wasn’t for the AM radio voices of the Jimmy Swaggart-like/come-to-Jesus pastors blasphemizing on the conversion van speakers in a taunt Southern twang I would’ve sworn I’d left the country back in Texarkana.
When you’re in Texas all you can do is hope: hope that a cowboy driving by on a train doesn’t mistake you for a buffalo, hope that a maniac wearing a mask made of human faces doesn’t chase you around with a chainsaw, hope you’ve been a good ole boy, hope that your bike is in the Alamo along with the stars at night being big and bright, and hope that your Mexican father has his American green card handy at any immigration post within a hundred miles from the border. With all there is to hope for you’d figure the least you can not have to worry about is finding a good steak. After all the University of Texas is named after the same longhorns that are steered in that rural Texan country side. It would seem that the slaughtering of the cow itself would be mandatory within even your most typical Texan restaurant. You’d even think it would be encouraged at the commercial truck stops that crowd the barren landscape every thirty miles or so. But little did I know that on a Sunday night deep in the heart of Texas even the hungriest hearts have the slimmest of options.
As my family rode into a tiny one horse town just outside of post-Branch Davidian Waco, Texas back in the early nineties the gas station attendant would expose us to the first and (since then) the last time my family ever experienced a now widely known national chain that calls itself the Golden Corral. It all came by suggestion from this attendant at the request of my grandfather who was hungry and dying for a steak because he was ‘in Texas.’ When it came to eating the subject of cultural idiocy took a backseat. The actual dining experience at this famous chain is still a bit hazy to my memory. I was thirteen years old, fat, and a huge fan of two things at this point in my life: Sunday morning post-Church diners that serve huge mounds of home fries and buffets (especially Chinese ones!). You’d think being from Jersey I could handle just about anything you put down my throat. My grandfather was a World War 2 Vet, the type of guy you could see shitting bullets if he had to eat them to survive while my dad was not too indifferent to the wild world of exotic eating himself; they invented menudo in his hometown and I’m not talking about the early 80’s pop boy band but rather a soup consisting of tripe, hominy, and the souls of the lost highways they’re served off of as you drive through the Northern Mexican desert. The rest of my family including my mom had nothing more to look forward to but the three to four times a day you have to shove food in your mouth. A buffet should be the equivalent of heaven in the terms of family dining, not relegated to the hell on a toilet seat it puts you through.
Most people would probably think that stopping at a chain restaurant would be another non-moment in a typical family summertime driving vacation. But the diarrhea laden aftermath of stopping at a Golden Corral in the middle of early-Nineties Texas was so memorable that it even found its way into a post-funeral speech I gave in honor of my late American grandfather. I could honestly say that my family had never been collectively sicker from a dinner in their lives than by their experience eating at this now national American establishment. Maybe we should blame the people around from where we came from for not warning us about places like this. Or maybe this is nothing but a simple by-product of the Internet not being invented yet.
Which brings me to this employee YouTube video of what the Golden Corral does when food inspectors show up that is making its rounds online. While I necessarily don’t agree with espionage it does have it perks. This modern day Upton Sinclair is simply exposing something that my young teenage self could have told you twenty years ago, don’t go to the Golden Corral if you hate losing sleep from shitting on the toilet all night. We don’t even have to tap into Americans who stuff their face and its correlation with obesity issue. Or debate about taxing fat people or even how corporate chains are feeding the gullible with mush. What we should do is tip our hats to this young Internet whistle-blower with hopes that employees who work at other chains see this video and follow in his example of exposing the ugly truth that goes on behind the scenes of these places built on the preface of feeding the wallets of their shareholders rather than the dignity of their own patron’s colons. Watch this video yourself and be forewarned next time you stop on the side of the road with an appetite for cheap steak or a craving for all-you-can-eat anything.
By Lou Cervantes