This being a law firm, the holiday pizza party email arrived in our inboxes with caveats. You must work 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. You must take a 1/2 hour lunch. No more than 2 slices per person.
Irksome, yes, but not a deal breaker for those skilled in reconnaissance — namely, adept staff members who can discern the opportune time to knick and tuck extra slices of pizza between sandwiched paper plates — which they will later call “dinner.”
On the contrary, nothing irks the alpha males. They ignore email edicts with impunity and eat as many slices as they want. Me Male Lawyer. Me Hungry. After all, being hungry got them where they are (cue the chest pounding).
The inhabitant of the cubicle adjacent to mine is also a food hoarder. She can fold and re-fold a slice of pizza like an origamist; fold it until it sprouts wings — or, optimally, fits inside a styrofoam coffee cup.
Let’s call her “Carvel Soft Serve”:
Monday to Friday, she arrives at her cubicle and pours herself into her desk chair like Carvel Soft Serve into a sugar cone.
She doesn’t get up unless absolutely necessary, choosing instead to roll herself around the 3′ x 3′ cubicle area like a person in a wheelchair. Whenever I get up from my chair, she will grab a file from her desktop and ask, “Can you bring this to [the Gecko]?”
“Get me this file,” commands the Gecko’s email, even if the file is sitting on his desk, even if it is right in front of him. He will not waste valuable time shifting his eyeballs from left to right.
Every morning, Soft Serve eats breakfast in the cubicle. Instant oatmeal in a styrofoam coffee cup. Which she has microwaved beforehand in the employee kitchen. Spoonfuls of mush travel from cup to mouth at breakneck speed. Did I mention she chews with her mouth open?
Everything going in and out of her mouth has its own soundtrack.
Post-prandial stray oats are washed down with a beverage (I’m guessing cola), that is siphoned through a straw inserted in the lid of a plastic cup. Every swallow is followed by a resounding ahhhhh!
When the beverage bottoms out, short of turning the cup upside down and tapping the last drops down her throat, she initiates a probe of the cup’s interior by employing more vigorous sucks on the straw. The dissonant sound produced by such prodigious vacuuming brings to mind honking seals at Laguna Beach.
At 10:00 a.m., a satisfied smack of the lips and robust ahhhhh announces breakfast is over.
At 11:30 a.m., a half hour until the pizza party, Soft Serve rips open a bag of potato chips scored from the vending machine in the employee kitchen.
What ensues is a haphazard rustling of chips; fistfuls of salt and starch moving from bag to face; loud crunching sounds due to open-mouth chewing; and that nerve-grating, irriating lip-smacking.
At 11:55 a.m., Soft Serve’s partner in food, Dreadful Dreadlocks — dreadfully long and thin with dreadful amounts of scalp exposure — wanders into the cubicle. Unlike Soft Serve, who has no shame, Dreadful prefers not to hover like a vulture over the housekeeping staff setting up the pizza party. She tells Soft Serve they should wait until the scent of tomato sauce filters down the hall before they make their move.
In addition to hardly doing any work at all, texting non-stop and conducting marathon sotto voce phone calls (which she defines as multi-tasking), Soft Serve believes life would be an endless Pizza Party, if only she could be transported around the firm on a suspended hammock like the Queen of Hawaii: