By Marcella Pansini
Waiting…(2005) is an American workplace comedy film about the adventures of the staffers in a restaurant called Shenaniganz. It primarily follows two waiters named Monty and Dean and their struggles with dealing with a directionless life and entitled customers. As opposed to many of the other food films that we have studied in GLBL 492H, food in Waiting… is not used to convey a sense of love, culture or hierarchy, but rather a sense of anger and frustration. The food and service industry in the film is a metaphor for Purgatory; it is a place of suffering for all of the staffers as they strayed from “the path” that was meant for them as some try to make up for their sins. For Dean, this path was pursuing a higher education. For Monty, this path was becoming a high achiever and pursuing any kind of dream. While living in this inescapable Purgatory, Dean and Monty find themselves accustomed to the fact that they will never get an education and be forced to live out the rest of their lives doing the exact same daily routine and interacting with the same customers.
In Shenaniganz, food is used as a weapon and form of retribution. The wait staff is constantly angry at anyone who comes in before the restaurant is about to close or right before a shift ends. Customers who have the nerve to send back meals are rewarded with the same food returned to them enhanced by bodily fluids, gamy secretions and freshly sprinkled dandruff. Steaks are even tossed onto the filthy kitchen floor to give them “floor flavoring.” This role of food as a weapon for revenge or outlet for anger is seen in the “hot fudge sundae scene.”
In the scene shown above, Naomi, an abrasive waitress, fields a simple request from a patron for a hot fudge sundae. However, for Naomi, the request feels like a waste of her time and it offsets her well-known anger issues. Therefore, while she creates the desired sundae, she does it with high amounts of frustration and it is not done to the best of her ability. As she creates the sundae, she yells to her nearby coworkers, “Like that b**** needs to be eating dessert anyway” (0:46:54). Naomi convinces her coworkers to add some “special ingredients” to the woman’s sundae in order to exact her revenge. In this scene, Naomi was both able to use the sundae as a way to work out her anger on the customer and exact revenge. In the image, the use of fluorescent yellow lighting emphasizes the bags under Naomi’s eyes. The shot used is a medium shot as it is centered from the waist up and it still shows the clinical, unappealing environment of the kitchen behind her. In Naomi’s face, the audience sees her scowl, pushed together eyebrows and drawn upper lip. However, this intensity, as can be seen by her body language, is not due to intense concentration but rather pent up aggression towards the customer.
While the relationship between food and revenge is not widely analyzed in our class curriculum, it is related to Korsmeyer’s paper on Food and Philosophy. Korsmeyer claims that one of the most remarkable experiences that a person has in relation to food is taking considerable pleasure in its consumption. Korsmeyer also argues that our philosophical tradition has ranked the sense of senses of hearing and vision as higher than the rest. Therefore, as Naomi interferes with the customer’s food, she is influencing their sense of touch, smell, and taste. These “lower” senses are also associated with gluttony, laziness, self-indulgence and overall moral degeneration. By influencing these senses, Naomi further demonstrates how lowly she values the customers.
In conclusion, in Waiting… food is used primarily as a form of revenge or an outlet for anger. Customers are not highly valued and as the workers associate them with gluttony and laziness, their “base senses” are primarily targeted.
Holden, Stephen. “FILM IN REVIEW; Waiting.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 7 Oct. 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/07/arts/movies/film-in-review-waiting.html.
“Waiting Script – Dialogue Transcript.” Waiting Script – Transcript from the Screenplay and/or Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, and Justin Long Movie, http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/w/waiting-script-transcript-rob-mckittrick.html.