We are the meatballs

 

‘We’re in the queue to vote for the meatballs.’

Why does this photo make me want to laugh and cry at the same time? On the one hand, I’m amused that people would want to queue (socially distanced) for hours in a car park – as the caption says – for meatballs. Or at least for something flat packed that can probably wait. On the other hand, I’m depressed that the lure of consumerism is so deeply ingrained in people that they feel the need to do this. Then there are the journeys these people have presumably made to get here, every one of them I would guess ‘non essential’ and contributing to the pollution load on our planet. I loved the silence of lockdown, the clean air, the bird song, the empty roads briefly colonised by wildlife (and cyclists). But photos of shoppers queuing outside furniture stores and fast food outlets somehow suggest we have learnt nothing. Especially this photo, from the air: the people look like ants, every individual choice adding up to a collective failure to understand that they are part of the problem. The store looks like nothing so much as a factory or a machine. People being fed into it. We are the meatballs.