Friday, January 14, 2011

mine over manners

In one hour, it will be my birthday.

I am all snuffly but still hopeful that if I just keep warm and get a good night's sleep, I will wake up tomorrow feeling rested, refreshed, and most importantly, not sick.

I have recently come up against several obstacles to maintaining my awesome record of health.  In case you haven't been paying attention, I've spent at least one sentence in almost every post I've written since November complaining about just how darn cold it is in Philadelphia.  Stick with me - I promise I only want to say one thing about it.  In addition to making my face hurt (insert mean, overused joke here), prolonged exposure to cold does actually weaken the immune system, making a person more susceptible to....everything else.

I'm sure walking a mile in the cold and then traveling via public transportation are probably a Disaster Cocktail, garnished with a few well-placed germy hand-rails that you could avoid touching if the stairs weren't slick and wet with the melting snow and slush of dozens of boots... I'm not a fan of that weird evaporating sanitizing germ-weapon people call Purell, but I may reconsider my position shortly.  It seems like I've been at least a little sick each month I've been traveling by train.

Even if we somehow pass through the gauntlet of hostile micro-organisms and get to work safely, let's not forget that I work in a cube farm with about 500 other people.  At any given time, at least 25% are sick and 2-5% have some kind of plague.  This time of year?  It seems like every January, at least 50% of the people I work with the closest/most frequently contract Black Death and then spread it around the office before staying out of work for a week.  Also, I am always the last to fall.  Maybe it IS because I take care of myself or maybe it's because I am stubborn wench and I'm still in denial that I'm sick (even though my nose is getting raw).

You know what I think is the icing on the proverbial cake?  The buffet.  Feel free to put on your flashback hat and travel back in time to read about The Salad Plague last year.  I may have mentioned that management is providing lunch again this year, but this time, instead of hand-delivered pre-plated meals, they set up a buffet for self-service.

There are a million things wrong with this.  The obvious one (especially if you click that link) is that every single person who partakes is using the same tongs to grab their food.  If you take just a moment to think about the implications, you'll realize the absurdity that we don't want them to pick up the rolls or cookies with their hands.  They'll get their germs everywhere!

The one that is less obvious will lead into tonight's PSA (a little different from my summer rant).  Three times every day, the catering crew sets up the food and helps supervise the buffet.  Although they regularly bring multiple trays of whatever (non-vegan) thing they are serving, they run out of food every single day at every single serving time before everyone has had a chance to eat.  The food is usually completely gone within 20 minutes of being set down.

The enthusiasm the employees are showing for the food they've been provided is not what troubles me.  What troubles me is their complete disregard for one another.  There is absolutely no thought given to how many people might be in line behind ME as long as I get MY food.  Maybe it's just the way I was raised (you know, with manners...), but when I go through a self-service buffet, I take a roll, a modest but appropriate amount of salad, one moderate portion of the offerings that interest me/I can eat, and one cookie.  Not these folks...nope.  Apparently, they will never eat again so they pile their plates so high there is an actual, visible peak of food, as well as possibly a whole second plate for their mountain of salad, and a smaller plate piled up with 3-5 cookies.  So, here's your friendly, office-hood PSA about self-service buffets:

1. First of all, you work for a weight loss company, for God's sake.  Do you really need 5 cookies?

2. The first shall be last and the last shall be first: the closer you are to the front of the line, the more miserly you should be in your own portions, to ensure your hard-working colleagues will also be able to eat.

3. If you feel like you need to hide that you are taking 5 cookies, you must know you're being a jerk, so just don't do it.

4. If there are only 3 rolls left in the bowl, you should try really hard to limit yourself to one.  If you want to go the extra mile, you could let the caterers know we're about to run out of something.  Of course, you could just take two or three because you're actually the only person who matters and if people wanted rolls, they should have gotten here sooner so it's really their fault.  Or, you're a big jerk.

I could keep going, but I think you get the idea.  I just do not understand the reasoning.  Where are these people's manners??  Who raised them?  Did they all come from the slums of Norristown and have to fight their five half-brothers for cereal in the morning and then have to eat it with water because their jerk half-brother used all the milk?  That might be a reasonable excuse, but I refuse to believe that it the case for half of the employees.  It's just appalling to me.  Appalling because I think you should practice what you preach, and we preach portion control, and appalling because it displays absolutely no respect for another single human being in the office.

In other news, since my rye roll and chocolate chip cookie appear to have finally infected me with Bubonic Plague, helped along, no doubt, by the intrinsic cleanliness and sterility of public transit, although I briefly entertained the notion of making Corn Chowder for dinner, we ordered Chinese.

If you're ever in Philly, Golden Empress Garden on 5th St, just below South St, has one of the best veg-friendly menus outside of Chinatown.  That's the Garlic Chicken.  It was supposed to have red and green peppers, but I like snow peas, carrots, and baby corn, so I'm okay with the substitutions.  It was just as tasty as it looks.

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