The View from the Cubicle: Part III (The Lunch Hour)
Mean Girls is not the best film I’ve ever seen, and its’ humor has worn off for me over the five years since its release. But I’m afraid I must make a reference to it when beginning to discuss the typical lunch hour in The Corp’s universe-with-a-universe.
If you’ve seen the film, remember the scene where the different cliques sat in the lunchroom, and how each one had its own language and exclusivist philosophy? You don’t think you’d find that in the adult world, especially in a business, would you? Well, The Corp has it, perhaps even worse so than the movie.
The lunchroom is pretty small itself, but there are still three small clusters of chairs and tables, allowing for some moderate clique-ing to occur. As with the popular girls in Mean Girls, the ‘best table’ is occupied by the pretty young executive assistants, who are not only the most physically attractive but also possibly the most anorexic. Meat, dairy, and anything that isn’t organic and full of chlorophyll and vitamin C is the enemy, and if you take out a sandwich with anything but hummus inside, you will be asked how often you go to the gym, no exceptions. Needless to say they are all a size 8 or under. If you try to sit with them, they glare at you, and their neatly-lined eyes stare deep into your soul and make your heart burst into a mushroom cloud of terror. This is hardly an exaggeration, by the way. They did give me a death glare when I attempted to sit with them.
The young men are allowed to sit with them, even though they receive not smiles but eye rolls when they take out their roast beef subs and bags of chips. But if they are young and handsome, I suppose the ill-conceived mating rituals of the beautiful people are not to be wasted, even during a work day.
The second table is more often than not occupied by the older women, whom I call with affection ‘The Old Maids.’ No, they are not maids by any means. Most aren’t even over 50. It is more a statement concerning their gossip-y mannerisms and lighthearted chatter that reminds me of the dratted Pick-a-Little Ladies from The Music Man. From what I gather, the ladies who sit here don’t have children, are divorced, or lack in the family department by some other means. They only have each other and their perpetually running squawk boxes to keep them going. They are amusing, though. But it is too tiring to attempt to dive into their conversation at any given point.
The third table is the most mellow, the most abundant in food, and also the most accepting. This is the table I have been welcomed to sit at, and this table is filled by the 30-something women with families. But it’s a much more diverse table than that. These ladies also have their share of office gossip, but their conversation always somehow route around back to their children. I, of course, cannot participate when the topic comes to antics of one’s offspring, but somehow I am integrated into the course of conversation once again when the tide of silly things my three-year-old-does ebbs once again. It usually lasts a few minutes at most.
Older men eat in their offices, not willing to take any of this shit.
Another interesting thing to note is the dynamic of food choices in the lunchroom at these three tables. Table A (the beautifully mean anorexics), as I mentioned before, lives off of rabbit food and complains how being 110 ponds is somehow fat.
Table B (The Pseudo-Old Maids) aren’t always overweight, but they will eat Lean Cuisines and salads as well, sometimes adding a pudding cup or bag of chips into the mix.
Table C (everyone else in the room) will practically have a potluck going. Lady One will bring wheat thins and carrots along with her leftovers from last night, Lady Two will come bearing wafer cookies, Lady Three will have a bag of ten-or-so Clementine oranges to pass. It’s a veritable picnic, and everyone gets their share. For everyone’s base lunch that they keep for themselves, it’s usually a standard sandwich or leftovers from last night’s family meal.
The hour goes by quickly and without much event. The groups generally stay to themselves, only to interact awkwardly when the battle for the microwave begins.
Believe it or not, there is nothing much to say regarding the daily battle for the microwave. It’s pretty normal, a first-come-first-serve basis. The awkwardness when a 250-lb Pick-A-Little skids in front of a bitchy anorexic to microwave a Lean Cuisine, and subsequent snickers from the anorexics is the closest you get to clashing.
Alas, would I were able to bring my loyal readers more from the lunchroom, but this is all I have to offer for today. For lunch time is over, and it is time to get back to the cubicle.