Friday, July 22, 2016

I'm Packing and It's Not What You Think

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

There are certain words you don't expect to hear together.

“Mm . . . nothing like a good McDonald’s picante sauce packet!”

Those are nine of them.

They came from the cubicle next door. Thinking I'd heard things, I peeked around the wall and saw that my co-worker, Tim, was indeed sucking on a picante sauce packet left over from his breakfast burrito.

You may remember Tim from years such as 2014: my worried-yet-affable, possible zombie co-worker who regularly shouts things like “My skin’s melting off!” and “I think my brain stem just snapped!” After that, nothing he says could really alarm me.

And considering we were at work, sauce packet snacks aren't exactly surprising. The office is a veritable wasteland of sad, rejected food, a place where leftovers go to die a moldy, forgotten death in the communal fridge.

Hey. I do it, too -- I admit it. I eat a lot of questionable things in the office, and no, sadly, that isn't a euphemism for anything. The list of foods -- if you can call them foods -- I’ve consumed in my soul-killing cubicle ranks as nothing short of pathetic. Soggy salad, last week’s donuts, Halloween candy from the Bush administration -- for shit’s sake, I've eaten fruit at work. Now that’s rock bottom.

It's all because I’m a packer.

Yes, as it was in elementary school, so it is now: there are two types of people in this world -- buyers and packers. Buyers tend to have money, while packers generally don't, and I'm a packer from way back-er.

My husband, on the other hand, under the impression that we are the Rockefellers, dines out every day. He is a buyer, and for this, I give him endless grief.

“Well, well, well,” I say, perusing the day’s receipts. “I see you ate lunch out again today.”

He glares at me over his glasses. “I did. What about it?”

“Still. Wendy’s again -- and you bought a large pop,” I say. “What are we, the Kardashians?”

He rolls his eyes. “I had a burger and small fries. That’s not exactly fancy.”

I beg to differ, dear. I beg to differ.

And with the $8.99 he spends at restaurants several days a week, I could purchase any number of depressing food items. Crackers, cans of soup, clumps of grass -- you name it.

Sometimes I wish I could bring myself to buy my meals each day. But it’s been 40 years, and I am too far gone. Inside, I’m still a poor kid from greater Youngstown, and the proverbial steel mill could close at any time as I sit with my soggy peanut butter sandwich in last year’s Scooby Doo lunch box, while the rich kids stroll by with trays full of hot pizza and those amazing chocolate peanut butter bars.

Bastard buyers.

I guess I just can't see spending a mortgage payment on lunch each month when there’s perfectly good leftover green Jello in the fridge from my colonoscopy three weeks ago. I mean, yum.

Once a poor packer kid, always a poor packer kid.

Still, I think fondly of the husband’s delicious Wendy’s burger and fries now as I dine on said Jello, yogurt, and an apple, all of which taste like poverty. Misery. 


In fact, pass that packet, Tim.

I am starving.