December 26, 2013
Christmas is over and thank god, ’cause that was a nightmare. Friends, family? Bah! Humbug! Well, at least this year I was spared the horror of the Christmas lunch at work. (My new office had the decency to just trudge along in the usual manner.)
January 3, 2012
By the time you read this it will be well into January and you’ll be tired of Christmas stories but I hope you forgive just one more.
A few days before Christmas the Company I Am employed by, which must remain confidential for reasons I cannot reveal, threw a Christmas lunch for all of its employees. Of course, this being the era of political correctness, it wasn’t called a Christmas lunch.
As much as I hate PC, and as much as I think it is often taken to a ridiculous degree, in small doses it isn’t such a horrible thing. Seeing as how Christmas fell smack in the middle of Hanukkah this year, it would not have bothered me if this were called a Holiday Lunch. It would acknowledge both holidays. The problem is, PC is usually used not to include anyone, but to exclude everyone. Case in point: Here in NYC, Mayor Michael “I am your mother” Bloomberg decided that in order to avoid offending some people, the Staten Island ferry terminal cannot display a Christmas tree or any holiday decorations, despite it hosting some wonderful displays the past few years. So the upshot is, while in the past a very few cranks might have been offended by the sight of a Christmas tree, thanks to PC, now everyone is offended by the lack of holiday cheer. Rather than acknowledge all holidays, it acknowledged no holidays. So I guess political correctness really did work- everyone was equally pissed off.
In that spirit, my company did not call it a Holiday lunch, they called it a Kickoff lunch. Kickoff to what? It was never explained. Logically, it could only be a kickoff to Christmas, although the invitation I was emailed showed a picture of a woman (in silhouette) doing what appeared to be the limbo, but it was hard to tell in silhouette.
At this point you might be wondering if there was to be any fun at the Kickoff lunch.
There was not.
That was clear from the invitation, in which we were told that the lunch would not be held in the building’s giant cafeteria but on whatever floor of the building in which you worked. While I have friends who work on the 5th floor, since I work on 13 there would be no mingling. Furthermore, each floor was divided into sections, with each section being assigned a time and place to pick up their lunch. It was a very regimented lunch.
You might also note that I wrote “pick up” lunch, not “eat” lunch. This is because the food was set up in a small meeting room and we were expected to get it and leave, eating the food at our desks. For the record, I took my food down to the cafeteria where I hoped to meet a good friend with whom I always have lunch. The problem was, she was designated to eat 45 minutes earlier than I was and I missed her, meaning I ate my Christmas- sorry, Kickoff lunch, alone. Bah. Humbug.
This day’s lunch was the worst lunch I ever had since I started at The Company, and that includes the very first lunch in which I ate outside in the park and almost got pooped on by a bird.
But the food? Surely the food was good? After all, The Company has a giant, catering-style cafeteria, and the resources to bring in food from anywhere. The food must have been fantastic, right? It was a great lunch, wasn’t it?
We had our choice of pre-wrapped sandwiches which would not have looked out-of-place at a 7-11 or one of the fancier gas stations. There was roast beef with an odd sauce whose name I cannot quite recall but was French-sounding and tasted like vinegar, a turkey sandwich with tomato-pesto sauce, and a roasted vegetable sandwich. I took the roast beef. As bad as those choices sound, I later found out that my friend was thrilled to see the veggie sandwich because she has a strict diet and cannot eat the other two sandwiches.
We had a choice of chips, or so they said. When I got there I saw there was only one kind of chip available. I guess the choice was chips or no chips. I took the chips. There was a choice of fruit. On the table were about two dozen bananas and a single apple. I passed. There was a cookie (no choice) which I spit out when I later ate it. It wasn’t even a cookie, it was a very thin cake covered in the sweetest icing you can imagine. If you took pure sugar and spread it in a half-inch layer over a piece of pound cake you would not even come close to this thing. It was sweet enough to kill a diabetic from thirty paces.
We were also given a bottle of water.
Getting the lunch was a torture in itself. In addition to being given a specific eating period we were also given a ticket. One ticket, one lunch. I guess they were worried about not having enough food if people started taking seconds. You’ve just read about the menu. Would you want seconds?
At our specified time my section was ordered- yes, that is the correct word- to get our lunch. I dropped my ticket in a bag sitting in the lap of a woman whose job it was to make sure I had a ticket. I tried to have some witty banter with her- “you must be the most important woman on this floor”- and was rewarded with a stony stare. I went inside.
Our emailed invitation also included instructions on what we were to choose, but they went a little nuts in the actual room. For example, red arrows were laid out on the table leading from the sandwiches to the chips, which were less than two feet away, to the fruit, less than two feet away, to the cookies, right next to the fruit, to the bottles of water, unmissable near the exit door. And next to each section, printed directions/warnings to take just one of each category.
In retrospect, I’m very glad this was not a Christmas Lunch after all because there was zero Christmas spirit in me that day.
I guess the takeaway is big company + political correctness = no fun for anyone.