I have a list of quaint things that still exist in Germany: actual postmen, labor unions, playing musical instruments, circuses that travel around in tents and vans, high-powered executives who still take the weekend off, and other things Americans encounter nowadays only in John Updike novels. Or even Nathaniel Hawthorne novels!
Let us add to the list the employee cafeteria. Oh sure, they probably exist in certain East Coast enclaves full of tall buildings your daddy works in, but they're increasingly a relic of the time when the corporate employer enfolded its loyal subjects in the tender embrace of the alimentation principle: give Anderson Teletype Products 30 years of your life, and you'll get not just a nice salary but a housing allowance, company car, pension plan, health insurance, a special camp for your kids to meet other Teletypies, half of your country-club dues, a perky secretary, and subsidized chow in the company canteen!
For most American middle managers, those days are long gone, replaced by 40 minutes at the Olive Garden in the strip-center down the road. But in Germany, the company cafeteria lives on, as does the university cafeteria (g) (there are over 700 of them) which still hasn't been replaced by the summary gastronomical justice of the dreaded (kangaroo) 'food court'. In fact, last year, I had the rare pleasure of combining two quaint institutions with one visit, when I ate lunch at the postal workers' company cafeteria (g) in downtown Duesseldorf!
And now, to the Vodafone company cafeteria. At least, I think that's what it is. It's in the Vodafone building, for one thing, and it looks very … cafeteroid, I think you'll agree:
Here's another, even eerier section, that seems to stretch into infinity; a bewitching, shimmering mirage of corporate nutrition:
I will be sure to visit soon during working hours, and bring back a detailed report.