It was the probably the year 1980 or 1981. We were graduate students returning from an outdoor trip. It was some time in the evening, and we were tired from the daytime activities. We decided to stop at the local steak place that we had never been to before for dinner. We were seated at a table in the restaurant and opened up the menu to look for food to order. A quick look and we realized that we had gotten into a restaurant beyond any of our budgets. We made a quick and silent getaway before the waiter could get to our table.
Fast-forward to dinner for my birthday this year at a relatively new local restaurant that we have wanted to go to for some time. After looking at the menu I was reminded of the incident from my younger days. I could not help thinking about how life has changed since then. I would not have been able to eat in this restaurant under the circumstances of my youth. Even if I could have, I would have been more careful than I was being today in selecting the items from the menu. It is not just a matter of things being affordable after all the working years, it is also the fact that one feels more secure in one’s own situation in life. Is it a feeling of entitlement, of thinking that you can have anything you want because you have earned it, or of even trying to flaunt your status in life? Is one spending money just because it is there? I hope not. At the end of the day, food is meant to simply to quench the pangs of hunger and keep you nourished, and the fact that we have found ways to really enjoy the experience of consumption, and even expand it, is really a bonus, mostly because we have built up a civilization that thrives on this concept.
I try to tell myself that even while enjoying my good fortune I should not forget those that are less fortunate. We have set ourselves a goal of somehow matching our dinners at restaurants with contributions to organizations that provide food for the needy. And hopefully we can do more.