Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Office vultures

At every place I've ever worked, people will trample each other at the sight of free food. I've never understood this, as I can say with near 100% certainty that I've never worked with extremely poor and destitute people; in fact, most were probably moderately affluent to affluent people. Still, once an all-staff email goes out advertising leftover sandwiches from a lunch meeting, cookies from a training session, or the last sugary corners of a grocery-store birthday cake, there's a stampede to get to the break room first.

It may not surprise you, especially if you know me, that I am not one of these people. Being a bit of a germophobe combined with a food snob takes care of any afternoon sweet tooth I might have. I don't even really want to see the public offerings, let alone try them. I like tidy food with traceable origins.

Today, though, I actually contributed to the food free-for-all. Over the weekend I made a chocolate gingerbread, which I have yet to write about here. It turned out very well. But, the recipe made too much for two people to consume. So I cut it up into cute pieces and arranged them on a paper plate in the break room and put a Post-It on it that said, "Eat Me."

When I walked by less than an hour later, they were all gone, eaten quietly and I hope happily by my little officemates who apparently did not wonder (or did not care) where the gingerbread came from or why it was abandoned. And even while I personally would not have eaten any of it in a similar situation, I felt a sliver of pride that it had disappeared so rapidly.

Of course, there's no point in feeling proud, based on what I just said: people will eat anything in an office environment if it's placed on a public table for consumption. Chips and salsa from the Cinco de Mayo lunch, dried-out bagels from a morning meeting, Halloween candy in June. They don't care. So the fact that the gingerbread disappeared is no testament to its quality.

In any case, I'm glad it's been devoured.

There are actually two things I will consider eating at the work place: chocolate if someone opens up a box of Sees Candies (and assuming I can accurately identify the caramels and avoid getting stuck with a raspberry or coconut-filled chew) and fruit if someone brings it in from their tree. It's true, I've been known to eat oranges and tangerines and persimmons that someone plucked from their yard and loaded up in paper bags and shlepped to the office. Fruit seems more appealing to me (perhaps because each piece is intact) and I appreciate the effort someone made to share the bounty from their garden. I do, however, like to wash the fruit first. But that's just common sense.

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