A capitalist means of production operates based on the continuous and violent exploitation of a proletarian working class by and for the bourgeoisie. Or so I thought prior to visiting the Cheesecake Factory in Elmhurst, New York.
The paradigmatic (or, perhaps even the platonic notion of a) factory in a capitalist system — wherein a mass-producible commodified item is mechanically manufactured by a majority of underrepresented wage laborers who toil under atrocious conditions while profits remain the sole property of a minority who own the means of production — seems in all senses absent from this Cheesecake Factory which, at least at the location I visited, lacked the sundry trappings of a factory — be it conveyor belts, children in coal-smudged smocks, or monocled men in tophats yelling “faster!” — functioning instead as, or be it much rather as, a spirited forum wherein large groups congregate to experience varying (and disparate) styles of regional cuisine — many of which being, to my surprise and bemusement, not cheesecake.
It was upon my being seated by a factory worker (who introduced herself as Tina the “hostess”) that I noticed a large book at my place setting titled The Cheesecake Factory Menu that was not entirely dissimilar in length to the first volume of my very own Das Kapital.
Having read the book, or menu, in its entirety, and having duly considered the philosophies laid forth in it, and because this was, in fact, my very first time inside a factory, I took it upon myself to complete the rigorous task of sampling each of the thirty-four varieties of cheesecake listed — the best of which being, without question, the Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake. Though I did quite enjoy, to name a few others, the Toasted Marshmallow S’mores Galore Cheesecake, Craig’s Crazy Carrot Cake Cheesecake, the White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake, as well as Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake.
However, and as previously alluded to, cheesecake is hardly the central or reigning priority of the factory in terms of production. Contrary to my previously held convictions about factories as myopically dedicated to the mass production of a single commodity, The Cheesecake Factory manufactures a staggering diversity of goods that, based on my preliminary calculations, totals up to no fewer than two-hundred-and-fifty menu items, including Cheeseburger Spring Rolls, Nashville Hot Chicken Nuggets, Pretzel Bites with Cheddar Cheese Fondue, Tex Mex Eggrolls, Louisiana Chicken Pasta, Jamaican Black Pepper Shrimp, as well as an assortment of flatbreads that are perfect for sharing amongst larger parties as an appetizer.
Having also tasted these menu items I can attest that they are all of a savory and delicious nature and, having hitherto cast aspersions on the idea of the factory as a whole, I was both flummoxed and a little embarrassed to have had such a delightful experience at this Cheesecake Factory. Not least because the laborers employed by The Cheesecake Factory seemed to have very agreeable working conditions and, upon asking Carlos (my “server”) if he makes a decent living wage, he looked at me confoundedly and asked, “What, you mean like good tips? If you want to apply our hiring manager is out Tuesdays so come back tomorrow or maybe Saturday.”
If you’ll allow me to wax for just a moment longer — as I am still under a Tex Mex Eggroll-induced state of euphoria — I am now of the strict belief that the Cheesecake Factory functions, at least on a microcosmic scale, as an ideal society — indeed, a framework for Utopia. At the Cheesecake Factory, all walks of life prosper, class struggles all but disappear, suppression has been usurped by toothsome satisfaction, the dominant form of exchangeable currency is not money but merriment, and finally exploitation…
Wait, excuse me, Carlos, yes, hello — I’m just curious about this “bill” here that seems to suggest I am indebted to the Cheesecake Factory some four-hundred-and-seventeen-dollars and twenty-eight cents? What? You mean to tell me I, the individual, have to pay for all of this? It isn’t subsidized by the socialist state? What do you mean I have to tip you?
As I was saying, factories suck.