Bart Simpson once famously sang: “You don’t win friends with salad!” And that’s pretty much the point.
I work in a stall. When I say to coworkers, “Lets’ meet in my stall,” some of them take offense. Which is unfortunate. I don’t know what else to call a room with three walls and no door. The partition I have is lovely, and I’ve enhanced it by hanging a sweet photo of Phil Collins upon it, but I realize that the word “stall” is problematic. It evokes images of toilets or compartmentalized horses chewing on hay while they wait for Miley Cyrus to scar them. But until my partition is replaced with a fourth wall and a door, I will continue to be stalled.
Oftentimes, I will eat lunch at my desk in my stall. Though, oftentimes I don’t use the word oftentimes. I take lunch at my desk because I have this thing where I hate talking and eating at the same time. Because I don’t have a multi-tasking mouth. I either eat or talk. Sitting across from people at lunch and shooting small pieces of my food in their direction is neither fun nor appetizing. And I don’t want to see their bread turn from golden brown to smooshy white as it tumbles over their tongue and across their teeth. I don’t want them to talk, sending flecks of dripping saliva bread all over the food I’m about to eat. We’re not birds. I don’t need my food pre-chewed.
So avoiding conversation is a major reason you’ll see me eating lunch at my desk in my stall from 11:30-12:00. But it’s not always easy to keep people away. I have to be careful about what kinds of food I eat at my desk. Foods with strong aromas draw attention out in the workspace. And that’s a major problem when you’re trying to hide from people.
In the kitchenspace, the smells of lunch are expected and they mingle until they become overpowering and unidentifiable. In the kitchspace, all of the people are eating so they don’t generally care about what you’re choking down. They won’t bother you about what you’re eating, but they will strike up conversation about current events and what-not.
In the workspace they’ll sniff your food and, for some reason, they’ll assume it’s fair game to come up to you and say: “Damn that smells good! What is it? Is it as good as it smells? Yum! Though, something that smells that good can’t be good for you. Is it good for you? It can’t possibly be good. Will it kill you? Are you dying? You look horrible! What happened to your face? Wait, were you always this ugly? Jesus Christ, man, wear a bag or something! Wear a fucking bag, you asshole! Your face is giving me nightmares. While I’m awake. I’m living a nightmare right now just looking at you and your awful face and head. You should be fired for creating a hostile work environment. I don’t feel safe. My work cannot possibly continue until you are either fired or you die horribly. A horrible, horrid death. I hope you choke to death on your food. To death. Go to hell. Go straight to hell.”
This happens a lot.
So, if I eat in the kitchenspace then people will want to talk about life and shit. If I eat in my workspace, then people will want to know what smells so good. What’s an asshole to do?
Well, the answer lies in the two lunch options inside the tower where I work. If I take the elevator down to the lobby and go right, I can eat at Potbelly’s with salads that won’t give me a potbelly. Go left, and it’s the Panda Express with a stop in Flavor Town on the way to Earlydeathville.
I don’t like to go to Panda Express for reasons you may have previously read about. But if the line at Potbelly’s is long and the people in line are looking at the menu board with the wide-eyed confused shock of tornado survivors, then I’ll go to PE where there is never a line because it doesn’t take a lot of time to scoop food from a bucket and slap it into take-out containers.
I’ll be too hungry to hate myself. I’ll ride up the elevator awash in the sweet smell of future health issues. I’ll stride over to my stall and shove the keyboard away to make room for the take-out container. I’ll tear open the bag, rip away the wrapper on my plastic fork, and squash that little voice that whispers: Never forget the Great Panda Uprising of aught fourteen. I’ll begin eating. I’ll hear footsteps on the carpet tiles outside my office. I’ll hear someone ask someone else “oh, what smells so good?” I’ll hear sniffing. The sniffing will get louder. Until it reaches my stall opening. Then a face. And a declaration. “SO THAT’S where the delicious smell is coming from! What are you eating? Is that PANDA?”
“Yes,” I’ll mutter, food flying into the depths of my keyboard only to resurface months later in a rain of crumbs when I flip over the keyboard looking for a lost pen or piece of paper.
The interrogator will then slip away, curiosity more satisfied than hunger.
I don’t blame this interloper. I do the exact same thing to other people. Sometimes I’ll catch myself and think Stop Jeff, you mustn’t, you hate it when people do this to you! When that happens, I’ll ask louder and add more questions that demand more details because I’m depraved: “OOOOOH that smells deeeelicious! Where did you get it? Did you make it? That’s like restaurant quality!”
“It’s a hot pocket.”
“OOOOH it smells so fresh and toasty. Where did you buy it? Was it on sale?”
“It’s burning the roof of my mouth.”
“WELL that sounds delightful! How much did it cost? I’ll buy a case.”
“It gave me a blister when I took it out of the microwave.”
“I hope it comes in a variety of flavors!”
“The middle is ice cold.”
None of this needs to happen of course. When I go to Potbelly’s for lunch I’ll almost always order a salad. I get the Uptown Salad with the non-fat vinaigrette dressing. It becomes the Upyours salad when I take it back to my desk.
I’ll ride the elevator up silently. I’ll sit at my desk and calmly remove the lid from the clear container. I’ll pop the lid off of the dressing and pour it on my salad. I’ll mix it up a little bit. And then I’ll fucking eat my salad. No one will ask what that smell is. No one will tell me it looks delicious. No one will give a shit about my lunch or current events or my horrible face.
And alone time tastes so good.
If you’re still wondering what the Government and Big Pharma have to do with this post, you can stop.