Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Six People Lurking in Your Employee Lunchroom

(post copyright 2015, Dawn Weber)
I've worked at various businesses around the Midwest for, oh, two or three hundred years now.

Although every job is different, they all have had some things in common -- besides computers and despair, that is.

Every workplace has a lunchroom. And in each lunchroom, there among the rows of tables, chairs and filthy microwaves, are certain individuals. Here at Miserable Cubicles Incorporated, I've identified these folks. Read on for a handy guide to  "The Six People Lurking in Your Employee Lunchroom."

1. Protein Pete
PP arrives first thing each morning and spreads out his array of fruits, powders and organic kale. Next, he spends 40 minutes of company time whipping up a slimy green concoction that he sips twice, then stores -- uncovered and indefinitely -- in the communal fridge. Protein Pete specializes in Ninja Blenders, rotten bananas, and annoying the hell out of everyone with unsolicited nutritional advice.

2. Coffee Pot Carl
Carl got coffee.

You got none.


That's because instead of following standard lunchroom etiquette and making more coffee after he poured the last cup, Carl went back to his desk, strolling cheerfully past the "If you drink the last of the coffee, please make more" sign.


You suck, Carl.

3. Loud Linda
In a good mood? You won't be for long. Loud Linda has arrived to inform everyone in shouty capital letters about the TRAFFIC, the WEATHER, and her RIDICULOUS WORKLOAD. Loud Linda: She's the reason God made earbuds.

And vodka.

4. TMI Tonia
Not to be outdone by Linda is TMI Tonia. Join her by the water cooler, where she'll continually share too damn much information with anyone brave enough to walk into the room. Her pants size. Her sex life. Her latest colonoscopy. We know all about it. And more.

So much more.

5. Dirty Dishes Dan
Our boy Dan likes to leave his soiled plates "soaking" in the sink, waiting on the perfect time -- Christmas? Easter? The zombie apocalypse? -- for someone else to wash them. It's a happy world, Dan's is, free of responsibility and common decency, where a guy doesn't deal with his own messes.

It's a world with his mom, apparently.

6. Scorched Salmon Sally
Sally loves fish.

So Sally brings fish.

Sally overcooks said fish in the microwave, reducing it to a rubbery puck and producing an odor that causes everyone in the room to gag and seriously consider the possibility of assault with office supplies.

Yes, Sally loves fish. But Sally is in danger of death.

By paper clip.

So there you have it. Six obnoxious people from your lunchroom and mine, all of whom specialize in making our workdays just a little more wretched.

How do you get through it? We at Miserable Cubicles Incorporated recommend earbuds, a "white noise" playlist, and the knowledge that one day you will retire.

In twenty, thirty years or so.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my break is almost over and I really need to grab a cup of . . .

Dammit, Carl.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Reptiles for Lunch

(post copyright 2015, Dawn Weber)

It was a warm, sunny day. I'd managed to exercise, shower, and even put on pants before noon.

And then I almost had to change them.

You see, I had a visitor for lunch. An uninvited guest. Let's back up a little.

Like I said, it started as a great day off. Some swimming, some yoga, lots of sun, so I decided to keep the healthy vibes going with a salad. I ripped up lettuce, chopped some onions, and reached for a package of tomatoes purchased the previous Sunday from the local grocery store. Opening the lid, I turned on the water and began rinsing the tomatoes under the faucet.

And then I nearly shat meself.

"AHHH!! ICKKKKKK!" I hollered.

"What?!" yelled the Princess, alarmed and thumping down the stairs from her room. "What is wrong with you?"

I turned to my daughter with eyes as wide as saucers. "SNAKE!"

"AHHHH!!" she yelled, stopping in her tracks.

"ICKKKKK!" I replied.

We continued in this manner for a while, our eyes bulging as we regarded the green snake cheerfully slithering around on a dirty plate in the sink. In his typical Hobo fashion, my son had shrugged off his dishwasher-loading chores again, and for this I was thankful: the soiled dishes blocked the snake from sliding down the drain and setting up camp.

The Princess and I took turns peeking into the sink. "What should we do?" I whispered.

"I don't know!" she murmured.

"Why are we whispering?" I asked.

"I don't know!" she hissed.

Together, we crept again to the edge of the counter. I spied a large plastic mug.

"I'll trap him with that cup," I told her. "You open the door, and I'll carry him out on the plate and put him in the woods."

She gulped and nodded. "Alright."

I grasped the mug and raised it over top of the plate, trying not to spook the invader. But he was on to me and began spinning his body in frantic circles.

"AHHHH!" I screamed.

"ICKKKK!" she replied.

Hoping not to splatter snake all over my sink, I closed both eyes and slammed the cup down. Reluctantly and ever so slowly, I opened my eyes and saw that I'd caught him on the blue dish. Whole. Alive.

And kicking.

I grabbed the makeshift trap and sprinted for the doorway. "Open it! Open IT UP!!"

The Princess pulled the handle and stepped aside while I lunged through the door. Together, we ran to the edge of the woods, and I put the plate down.

"When I lift the mug, you take a picture," I said, still whispering for no apparent reason. She pulled out her iPhone and nodded gravely.

Trembling, I approached the cup o' snake as he slithered angrily inside, trying to escape his filthy little jail. "Here we go," I said. "Get your camera ready!"

With one quick motion, I lifted the mug. She had just enough time to click a picture before the menacing snake, all four inches of him, slipped off and into the woods.

"AHHHH!" she yelled.

"ICKKKKK!" I screamed.

I picked up the rest of the tomatoes, lobbing them into the trees, and we gathered the dishes and walked back into the house on wobbly knees. To thoroughly disgust our friends and family, we posted the picture on social media. I also texted the shot to my husband.  "There was a snake in my tomatoes," I wrote, waiting for the inevitable I've got a snake for your tomatoes, baby! reply.

One doesn't often find oneself Googling "pests in produce," but when one does, one can expect hundreds of hits. Apparently, critters are common in fruits and vegetables from stores -- my Facebook and bloggy friend Shelly reported that a man in her Texas town had been bitten by a rattlesnake while reaching into his grocer's fruit bins. A Michigan woman recently found a black widow spider in store-bought grapes. I was lucky that my lunch guest looked to be a harmless baby garter snake. Still. You can never be sure.

As I sat and recovered in the kitchen, I realized that the snake wasn't even my first rescue of the morning. Earlier, I'd pulled two frogs from the pool and put them in our little pond to save them from a slow chlorine death. Not only that, I remembered that I also regularly stop and pluck turtles off of busy roads, respecting their directional wishes by depositing them in whichever ditch they're heading toward. For this, the husband calls me The Patron Saint of Turtles. But clearly, I'd just proven myself the Patron Saint of Reptiles and Amphibians. A promotion.

Maybe so. But still. Come on, man. A SNAKE! In my FOOD!

Too skeeved out to eat anything, I packed away the lettuce and onions, and went into the bedroom to assess the situation in my pants.

Yes, it had started as a good day.

And then I made a salad.