Posted 24 October 2003 - 01:38 PM
This one's a whopper. Long, but please read and commiserate. I need you guys, 'cuz after today's lunch I'm a little postal.
In fact, I was thinking of making it its own thread called "What's that smell?" but it fits here perfectly.
Background info part 1: I work for a big corporation in one of those strange leased office spaces that came with one of our many acquisitions. My coworkers are all either unwilling transplants or the bitter few left over from said acquisition. I think it's safe to say I'm the only one who feels lucky to be on a dead end street on the wrong side of the tracks in Bergen County, culinary capital of NJ. I'm also very lucky that the founders of this site happen to be from around here. I never would have known the depth of it on my own. But my lunch experiences are mixed -- once in a while I head over to Han ah Reum for a little shopping and lunch at the food court, but a lot of the time -- hard as it is to admit -- I feel the need for human interaction so I'm stuck compromising with my often delightful but small-minded colleagues.
Part 2: A few weeks ago, coworker H needed to go to her bank in Cliffside Park and P came along too. Not having time to fully research our options, I played it by ear. Pointed out a cute, innocent-looking place with red gingham curtains and signs advertising a strange mix of cuisines -- I think Italian, Middle Eastern and a third I forget. We went inside and got queer glances from the staff -- no menu in sight and no food on display. There were a few aisles of groceries, so we ducked down one to discuss. H looks like she's going to pass out. "What?" I ask. "The smell, the smell..." she whines. P concurs. I'm thinking, you people are cracked -- I don't smell anything -- but I'm unimpressed by the place and agree to leave. Spot another innocuous-looking place across the street -- the California Grill. I throw out any notion of getting anything interesting to eat to placate the bitches. So we go in. There's a couple of things written on the board in Portuguese. The owner offers us menus. Hmm, Italian. Four pages of Italian deli and pasta items, plus burgers & stuff. In a place run by Brazilians called the California Grill. We order: me, grilled chicken w/ mozz & arugula, H gets a cheese steak, P a tuna melt I think. Out of earshot of the staff, I joke to H "does it smell OK in here?" She grimaces. "No, it's worse." P again concurs as if I'm an idiot not to notice it. Let me tell you, I have the best sense of smell out of anyone I know and I smelled nothing. A Brazilian family gets their order before ours, and it looks unItalian. H & P are griping about the roaches they imagine are everywhere and the slow service. I'm thinking "of course, we ordered off the gringo menu." When our food arrives, my sandwich is delicious and the ingredients really fresh. I ask H how her cheese steak is. "It's disgusting." OK. I give up.
I concluded that perhaps I have been exposed to more smells in my life than they have and that they associate certain unfamiliar smells with horrid cultural stereotypes, where I might find them pleasant or unnoticeable. Their sense of entitlement and inane stuck-up comments made me sick. I was spitting mad the rest of the day. I don't understand how these people go through life without getting their asses kicked.
Part 3: Big P. She's a semi-bigwig with a chip on her shoulder. Always calling the General Manager to complain about people pissing on the seats or not throwing away their old food from the fridge in the breakroom. I have caught her more than once throwing out almost the entire contents of the fridge, including a jar of pickles (mine) -- "ugh, who would keep pickles in here; they must be bad," and a large, brand-new bottle of non-dairy creamer. You know, the stuff that NEVER goes bad. She gets almost orgasmic while she's doing it and takes no notice of objections, like my not-so-subtle "Hey, those are my fucking pickles."
Today: They decide to order pizza from Ralpho's. Not doing that again. It's Han ah Reum for me. I wander aimlessly around the mall looking for an anniversary gift for my parents. Too hungry to think straight. I go to the food court and order Noodle Soup, Korean Style (A3), to go this time 'cuz I can never finish their huge portions -- they will wrap up leftovers for you, but I always end up being late back to the office. I buy a couple things from the supermarket and head back.
A quart of broth, a huge foil container of noodles & fixings with kimchee and extra kimchee & chili sauce on the side. I'm alone in the breakroom. I start opening the containers. Smells delicious. I'm idly wondering if I should take home the leftovers or leave them for next week. This could feed me for 2 or 3 days. Decide to take it home lest Big P starts sniffing 'round the fridge.
Enter Big P. "DON'T YOU SMELL THAT?" she is yelling? "What?" "That smell; it's disgusting..." "It's my lunch," I say defiantly. "No," she says, "it couldn't be -- we can smell it all the way down the hall." She gets closer to me, sniffing all the time. "Maybe..."
I hear her randomly yelling around the building. One of her reports comes in making a face and sniffing. I know she's been sent in here to smell me. I'm starting to enjoy my meal a little less. Next comes the GM. "Big P asked me to investigate the odor. Do you smell something? I have a cold, so I can't smell anything." I say, "I told her -- it's my lunch." He appears not to hear me and leans in to sniff me. "Did you take a shower this morning?" he asks me. "Yes," I say, "did you?" He colors and says he was just kidding and leaves.
I pack up my lunch. I've decided it's definitely best if I put my leftovers in my car immediately (don't worry, it's cold here). I'm telling myself that if I hurry, I can get outside for a smoke before anyone else sniffs me.
Enter Big P. She stalks in and circles me for a while before smelling me again. "I think it's your lunch," she says. "That's disgusting." I stare at her. She leaves.
I walk out of the break room a minute or so later -- into a cloud of Lysol. That's right. She fucking Lysoled me.
Queen of Grilled Cheese