There is this vegan restaurant in Fort Worth, called the Spiral Diner. I love it. They magically take some vegetable product and make it taste like bacon. The building has this cool retro-diner vibe, the music is either of the world variety or ambient indie, and the waitstaff is for the most part friendly and unobtrusive. It's comprised of what you'd expect--hippyish peace punks with sleeve tattoos, grins and socialist ideas. They share their tips and the restaurant has a sign reminding diners that while the staff are there to help, they are not to be treated as servants. As a former waiter, I can totally appreciate this.
As for their politics, I don't really care one way or the other. Thanks to the trigger-happy oligarchists in the White House, my beliefs have increasingly skewed left, so I don't mind the muted presence of various fliers and get-involved literature lying around, nor am I terribly bothered if one of the staff mentions whatever liberal cause he or she is interested in. So, when the one who waited on me and my girlfriend on Saturday asked if I wanted to get involved with building a free skatepark in Fort Worth, I happily took his email address.
This conversation was a refreshing in light of the server I got on Thursday night. My buddy Cliff and I went there for dinner; we ordered magically meat-like sandwiches, and hummus for an appetizer. What we did not order was thinly-veiled condescension; apparently, you get that for free.
The dude came over and dropped off our hummus.
"Thanks!" I said.
"No problem, man," he said "Listen: do you guys support democracy?"
Now, it's been my experience that when someone like this server broaches the subject of government, the conversation usually doesn't end well. I looked at him fixedly, so as to not roll my eyes.
"Yeah, I'm a fan. Very grateful for it."
"Where do you guys work?"
Ah. A twist. I don't work in oil, I don't cut down old-growth forests, and as I am not president of Nike, I thought I was safe.
"I work at an internet marketing company," I said.
"I work for my family," said Cliff.
"Are your jobs democracies?"
Well what the fuck. Are any? I mean besides the ones had at vegan restaurants? If businesses (and I'm strictly talking about their employees, not shareholders) were democratic, what would get done? I'll bet that tiny indie record labels can get away with equal represenation, but everyone knows that tiny, indie labels don't make any money unless they happen to have something to sell off like Nirvana.
But he was earnestly looking at me, waiting to see how I would deal with his rhetorical trap. And frankly, I failed spectacularly. As you read the next exchange, keep in mind I have a B.A. in poli-sci; allegedly, I know what the word democracy means.
"Yeah, it is."
"So you guys get to vote on all the decisions?"
"No... I mean, we can wear whatever we want, well, we can't wear shorts, I guess. And we have a non-traditional management structure... But no one voted on them, so yeah, it's not really a democracy at all."
Apparently, the idiot half of my brain had wandered out of the Nintendo room and down the hall to my mouth. The logical half must have been on the toilet. I confirmed this later because when I encountered him again, he smelled like Glade air freshner.
"Oh..." he says, eyes hardening in smug satisfaction.
The best I could do was return his forced smile. "Why do you ask?"
"Oh no reason. I'm just trying to start a revolution."
He walked away, basking in his own glowing sanctimony, or at least what I imagined was glowing sanctimony. I could be wrong. He was probably glowing from that bacon magic.
*Big points if you know this reference.