Cleaning out the basket of magazines in our bathroom the other day I came across the February 2020 issue of Los Angeles. On the cover is a stack of takeout containers piled high, and over that image it says, “Appetite for Destruction. How food delivery services are killing L.A.’s restaurants.”
Food delivery services killing restaurants.
This was February 2020. One month before food delivery was saving those very same restaurants.
I felt my eyes go wide and my mouth kind of drop open. Not only for reading something that so obviously changed. But really for finding this magazine. Seeing its date of February 2020. And knowing how untrue this ended up being. I felt like an anthropologist making an important discovery.
Having lived through a year of food delivery, I reread the article that talked about which restaurants were preparing for the new world of “convenience” and which ones were “refusing to yield.” One restaurant owner mentioned how people will always prefer to dine in a restaurant to “see their favorite busboy, their colleagues and friends.” He added, “There isn’t any couch that’s going to give you that.”
I wondered about the editorial staff who experienced life differently so soon after agreeing to publish this attention grabbing front page. I’m sure the irony was not lost on them.
But for the rest of us, this magazine cover got buried under many more magazines and articles about the pandemic and we had no time for irony. We were preoccupied downloading apps to get food delivery as a way to avoid cooking yet another meal for our families. Restaurants were actually closed before they began offering delivery services. We were too busy jumping up and down for joy when that first kinda hot pizza arrived to think about how much we missed any busboys.
So what is the lesson? Maybe how we think about something today might turn out to be completely ass-backwards.
Maybe whatever challenge we are having right now could be the actual thing that saves us.