Food for Thought

The staff were not entitled to a free meal, even though barrow loads of food were thrown out every day (and trolleys full of delicacies were constantly being pushed past the unit on their way to the managers’ meeting room), so we stood drooling like Pavlov’s dogs while the patients proceeded.
Food began seeping out of loose mouths, discolouring chins, running down the front of shirts and plastic aprons, and spilling onto the floor. One man filled his mouth so full that his jaws couldn’t get purchase to chew, while another furtively concealed chips and gravy up the sleeves of his jumper for later use. Bert sent his false teeth spinning across the table as he sneezed full in the face of his neighbour, and Cecilia left the room altogether, leaving her first two courses to go cold, while she went for a cigarette, or a half hour nap. She would of course be livid if the food was mistakenly cleared away or seized by another patient, so I cautiously returned it to the monstrous warming machine for safe keeping.
In so doing, I burnt my hand through the threadbare oven gloves, but this was a small price to pay for avoiding the bulging eyes, pinpoint pupils, crimson face, and shaking body of the agitated resident who had mislaid the remains of their meal….


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