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Food Fight at the Golden Corral

[1]1,293 words

Whenever I hear about a massive brawl at a restaurant, airport, mall, or in the streets, I assume that black people are involved, and I am usually right. What I am never wrong about is that, if black people were involved, the brawl was sparked by something intensely stupid, usually involving the initial assailant’s sense of having not been fully respected.

Although it may be a taxonomical error, I also consider black people to be human, so when I heard of a melee [2] involving 40 or more people at a Golden Corral buffet in suburban Philly and my confirmation bias was confirmed when I viewed the unedited footage [3] and saw that most of the brawlers were black, the humanist inside me yearned to seek for the ties that bind, the common ground. Perchance, I thought to myself, these brawlin’ blacks are going through exactly what every other American has endured the past two years: lockdowns, a crumbling economy, wall-to-wall media and government gaslighting, and that stinking sense of ennui that comes from a stabbing feeling in your guts that things will not get better anytime soon.

My misguided compassion was given a smidgen of credence when it was initially reported that the melee erupted after Golden Corral had run out of steak because of supply-chain issues [4]. If, due to the malice of a white-supremacist power structure, an unemployed black man can’t use his food stamps [5] to get himself a nice sizzlin’ steak at the notoriously down-market buffet chain, why shouldn’t he throw chairs even though it may hit one of the mothers in the room who are cradling their infants?

Bensalem, Pennsylvania [6] is a quiet little township in the Philadelphia suburbs. I’ve been to the horse track there. I also ate my first Krispy Kreme doughnut there. I used to drive through it while switching between I-95 and the New Jersey Turnpike en route from Philly to New York.

Bensalem is nearly three-quarters white; combined, blacks and Hispanics account for barely 15% of the population. I’m not sure if the Golden Corral in Bensalem was hosting some kind of discount for non-whites that evening, but on Friday, January 28 at about 4:30 PM, the room in the restaurant where the mini-riot occurred — under a giant “Gather Round [7]” wall mural, no less — seemed about three-quarters black. The few undeniably white people mostly consisted of waitresses who boldly stood in between the chair-throwers and begged them to stop. There was a small cluster of light-skinned fat males who were throwing chairs — you can hear a grotesquely portly fellow muttering, “All I wanted was some steak” here [8] –but my dogged deep dive into this incident suggests they may have been Hispanic.

[9]

You can buy Jim Goad’s Whiteness: The Original Sin here [10].

According to former Golden Corral employee Dylan Becker [11], “I’ve never seen nothing like that in Golden Corral before. . . . From what I heard it was over steak, apparently somebody cut in line.”

Okay . . . black people . . . cutting in line. I can believe that. I’ve witnessed it again and again. They seem to believe that 400 years of oppression justifies cutting in line — or that full-throttle violence is justified after someone has cut in front of you. Anyone with good sense knows that you don’t jump in front of a black man in a buffet line [12].

Astoundingly, despite all those bodies throwing all those chairs for nearly four minutes, there were no serious injuries reported. This suggests that black people are getting less efficient with their violence. Hell, 1881’s Gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona took only 30 seconds and left three people dead. As of this writing, police have filed no criminal charges yet, either.

Becker told a TV station [13] that his friend, a female Golden Corral employee, was hurt during the brawl:

My friend, she’s in the video, like, trying to break it up and she told me she got hit by a table and her ankle got bruised up pretty bad. There was [sic] two parties in line waiting for steaks, somebody had cut in front and then started being picky and finicky about the steaks and taking too long. And then somebody else spoke up and said something I guess the other party didn’t like, and it looks like it turned into an all-out brawl.

Okay . . . black people . . . being picky and finicky and a generally rude pain in the ass to service workers. Anyone who’s ever worked in a service-industry job can believe that. When I drove a cab in Philly, even the black cabbies bitched about their black customers. And anyone who’s ever worked as a restaurant server knows why you paint a canoe black: so it doesn’t tip [14].

Gaven Lauletta, who posted the brawl video [15] to his Facebook account, echoes the supply-chain theory:

There was a shortage of steak and two parties were involved and one family cut in front of another family. They were taking their time and they ran out of steak and it got into a heated exchange at the tables.

Subverting the “supply chain” thesis, though, is Alexis Rios [16], an amiable Hispanic who claims to have not only been engaged in the brawl — he says it all erupted after he received his rare steak before someone ahead of him in line got their well-done steak:

[The cook was] trying to understand what you want and give you what you want. I had a rare steak, which is a lot faster to cook than a well-done steak. That’s why I got my steak first. . . . With COVID right now, masks and everything, nobody can hear nobody sometimes. . . . I grab a chair to defend myself, and then sooner or later that was it. Punches were getting thrown. Chairs were getting thrown. . . . Nobody was on the ground. Nobody got hurt. I got a bruise on my nose. My brother got a black eye. My brother got a lifted nail. That was it.

So there was someone ahead of Rios in line who’d ordered a well-done steak but was still waiting for it after Rios received his steak bloody. I have no evidence that this person with time-comprehension issues was black, but I doubt a restaurant filled with black people would have started throwing fists and tossing chairs on behalf of a white person. At the beginning of the video, one can clearly hear a very loud black woman — she seems to be in all of these videos — screaming at someone, which I’ll presume was Alexis Rios. You can also hear the obligatory black man — he seems to be in every one of these videos, too — chuckling and saying, “Oh, shit!” as he gleefully witnesses the violence but fails to intervene.

Until better evidence comes in, I’m going to speculate that this food fight started because a black person felt he was experiencing racial discrimination when a non-brutha received his steak first.

And to be fair to blacks — it’s all I ever try to do — they didn’t need COVID or lockdowns or supply-chain issues to tear the living shit out of a Denny’s in East Oakland [17] a few years ago. Nearly every time you hear of violence at a Waffle House [18], aggressive negritude is involved. The website World Star Hip Hop [19] exists to sate a peculiar black thirst for getting violent in public, filming it, and posting it for all the world to see.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes stupid people are just stupid people. At first, I was looking for more profound reasons to explain this sudden explosion of mass violence: supply-chain problems, collective PTSD, and endemic cultural pessimism. I now realize, and I confess before the world, that I once again erred by giving people the benefit of the doubt.

The only positive thing I can take away from this video is that it was refreshing to see fat people exercising.

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