Wednesday, August 24, 2011


(Elle and I are working and Lenore comes into our office with a bag of chips.)

Lenore: Quieres a Guacachip?

Me: A what?  (reading bag) Guac-a-chip.

L: They are made of guacamole and chips.

Me: Oh, I guess that makes sense.

(I take a chip and eat it.)

L: Yummo, right?

Me: Yeah, they're pretty good.

Elle: Can I try one?

L: Sure!

(Elle takes a chip and eats it.)

Elle: Mmm, those are pretty good and they're called what?

L: (quickly) Guacachip.

Elle: Thank you.

Me: Thank you.

(Lenore leaves with the chips.)

Elle: That is the dumbest name for chips.

Me: But at the same time, adds up.

Elle: It's still dumb.

(Twenty minutes later.)

Elle: I want another Guacachip. 


Monday, August 22, 2011

Schmear Campaign

This morning we had our monthly birthday celebration which isn't a celebration at all but a meeting where we write the names of the birthday boy or girl on a whiteboard and eat bagels in their honor...but only after singing 'Happy Birthday' with the gusto of an indoor wind chime.  And there are always leftover bagels to nibble on throughout the rest of the day.

(Lenore steps into the doorway of my office.)

Lenore: Hey mister, there's bagels left from the meeting if you want some.

Me: No, thank you.

L: There's plain and a raisin kind and I think onion. And also an herb schmear and one with salmon bits. Oh, and there's plain and lite.

Me: Is there a pap-schmear?

L: Ah, a what? I don't think so. Do you want me to go check?

Me: No, Lenore, no, I was joking.

L: Okay, well there's other kinds if they don't have the kind you like.

Me: I don't want any, but thank you for letting me know.

L: If you change your mind. They're in there.


Originally posted December 3, 2010

Friday, August 19, 2011

That's A Sheep

(Morning. I am walking by Lenore's desk and notice she has a wilted flower pinned to her shirt.)

Me: Good morning.  I like your flower.

Lenore: Oh, this?  Isn't it pretty?  Well, it was a few days ago.  (smells flower)  I got it at Debbie's [co-worker] baby shower.  I thought, it's Friday, why not put it on, right?

Me: Yeah, I guess. 

L: Hey, I've been meaning to ask you, did you have animals on your farm, er, uh, the one you were on growing up?

Me: Oh, uh, yeah, we had chickens--

L: (overjoyed) Chickens!

Me: ...and horses and pigs--

L: Pigs too!  Wow!

Me: ...and now there are two goats on the farm.

L: Baaaaaa!

Me: No, that's a sheep sound.

L: Oh, it is?  What sounds do goats make?

Me: I don't know, they kind of sound like children crying out, I guess.

L: (horrified)  Really?  That's just, um, I don't know.  And they don't baaaaa?

Me: No, they waaaaaah!

L: I just think it's great that you grew up with animals.  You know, people don't know anything about that sort of stuff in the city.

Me: No, I guess not.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

You're Starting To Offend Me

You're typical omnivore office worker is more likely to show more compassion for a deathrow inmate than a vegan donut. 

"Bleeech!  What's wrong with these?" Lindsey in gift-processing said after dumping her partially eaten pastry in the trash with the level of disgust you might put forth when shaking a dead worm from your finger.  Continuing to wipe her tongue clean of masticated donut with a paper towel roughly torn from its roll, she added, "Who would bother bringing a whole box of those in here?  Gross."

FlapJane would. 

FlapJane has very peculiar eating habits; eating sugary and breaded foods one day and a handful of nuts and berries the next.  Over the years of working with her I have to applaud her efforts to eat more like a squirrel and less like a midwesterner.  It's not easy, especially in office culture.  But she loves vegan donuts.  At least, that is what I learned today.  And she brought a box of them in this morning to share with the office staff.

Rewind to right before anyone knew who had purposefully insulted our pallets with a food, free of animal byproducts: I had to check in with my boss about day-to-day office stuff.  As I was wrapping up my questions I turned to leave his office and asked, "Where did those donuts come from?  They tasted weird."

"They're left over from a meeting."

"A meeting of people without tongues?  The donuts just didn't taste very good," I continued.  "Something wasn't right."

"FlapJane ordered them.  They're vegan or something."  Then, yelling to FlapJane who sits within earshot, "Hey FlapJane, where did you get those donuts?"

"Huh," she said, pulling her earbuds out of her ears.

"Urgh, you brought those in?  They were awful," came a voice from a nearby cubicle.  "I couldn't finish mine," came another.  "I put it in the trash!"

My boss repeated the question, yelling out his door from his chair, "Were those donuts vegan?"

"Yeah," FlapJane said sheepishly.  "You didn't like them?"  A chorus of "no's" came from around the bullpen of desks.  FlapJane looked deflated.  At the heart of it, she had done a nice thing for us all.  But food can be a personal thing for some people.  Many of us take offense when we try to eat something we might recognize as one thing and our tongues recognize as crap, furiously wanting it aborted from our mouths.  If you've ever once substituted brown rice pasta into your child's traditional spaghetti, you know what I'm talking about.

Feeling bad and wanting to come to FlapJane's defense, I tried to soften the blow.  "Yeah, they weren't horrible, just didn't taste very good, and I like lots of vegan sweets.  Maybe it was a bad batch." 

Then, Gregory, who is as mean and offensive as his crop-dusting, came over.  "What's a vegan donut?  What's the point?"

"I really love them.  They were left over from a meeting this morning," FlapJane said. 

"Were they leftover because they were extra or because no one liked them?" Gregory pushed as he scratched his bare belly through an opening in his button-down shirt. 

"I don't know.  You're starting to offend me."  People slowly started to gather, peeking their heads over their cubicles like meerkats looking out for a bird of prey.  "Don't eat them if you don't like them." 

"Thanks.  We won't," Gregory said with finality as he pivoted on one heel and went back to watching YouTube at his desk.

And just when I was feeling sorry for FlapJane she defiantly said, "This is what I like to eat.  The donuts you bring don't taste good to me and make everyone here overweight."  (I should mention here that FlapJane is the size of a whippet and no one likes to be nipped at by a whippet.)  Playful ribbing quickly went south.  Her statement wasn't a direct attack on anyone's figure per se, but we all felt shamed.  The women in their Talbots and Lane Bryant blouses slowly lowered back in their seats.  The few men that were listening in, threw back their heads and went for more coffee.  I headed back to my office (I had important blogging to do).

I don't have any problem with a vegan diet and as someone who enjoys cooking, I love the challenge of preparing any dish that calls for a substitution or limits the use of traditional ingredients.  It keeps things interesting.  Mixes things up.  But, in that mixing I would never verbally shame someone else for using butter instead of margarine, frozen over fresh or comment on their food choices in relationship to their bodies.  That's what the arts of being polite or quietly-judging-and-outwardly-smiling is all about--arts I feel must be forced down FlapJane's throat, even if she doesn't care for the taste.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Push Ethan Around Again

I often have to work with Ethan, one of our student assistants, designing our marketing materials.  It can be a very tedious, back-and-forth endeavor.  Being the gullible, easy target that Ethan is, I cannot resist pushing him around to pass the time.  It makes my day fun and I don't care what it makes of his day. 

From: Rxxx Jxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
To: Ethan Bxxxxxx
Subject: Eblast for Ian Kxxxxx 

Hi Ethan,

Attached to this email is copy for the Ian Kxxxxx invite plus his picture [see below].  Can you please assemble an eblast and send me a proof this afternoon...that is, if Farmville can spare you.  Get your chicken coop another time.

[Word attachment, jpg]

From: Ethan Bxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
To: Rxxx Jxxxx
Subject: RE: Eblast for Ian Kxxxxx   

hahaha...i dont play that stuff 

From: Ethan Bxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
To: Rxxx Jxxxx
Subject: RE: RE: Eblast for Ian Kxxxxx   

How about this?

[proof attached, cannot post here] 

From: Rxxx Jxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
To: Ethan Bxxxxxx
Subject: RE: RE: RE: Eblast for Ian Kxxxxx  


That's a good start for a farmer or maybe one of your farm goats but I need you to take this seriously.  Try harder and make this look like it is coming from a professional, not a cow.


From: Rxxx Jxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
To: Ethan Bxxxxxx
Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: Eblast for Ian Kxxxxx   


One more thing...could you make Ian look like he's smiling.  I don't care for his smirk.  What do you think?

Very interested in knowing your thoughts,


From: Ethan Bxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
To: Rxxx Jxxxx
Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Eblast for Ian Kxxxxx  

What??? How should I make him smile?  is this like the flowr thing with the bald guy before? 

From: Rxxx Jxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
To: Ethan Bxxxxxx
Subject: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Eblast for Ian Kxxxxx
Ethan, Ethan, Ethan,

I don't know what "flowr" thing you're talking about.  Is a "flowr" something you grow on Farmville?  Bring me some.  Tomorrow preferably.  Today we have to WERK!  (In Officeville.)  The main goal is to make Ian happy.  But first me.  In that order.  I hope that didn't confuse you. 

 To do:
1. make Rxxx happy
2. make Ian happy

Attached are some smiles I'm fond of.  You are welcome to use one of these, all of these or find your own. 

[jpg attachments]


From: Ethan Bxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
To: Rxxx Jxxxx


From: Rxxx Jxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
To: Ethan Bxxxxxx
Subject: Your work is so important to this university 


This is perfect.  I've sent it along to [the boss] who said he loves, loVES, LOVES what you've done.  He asked if you could touch up some of his wedding photos.  It seems his brother showed up for his wedding drunk (can you imagine getting drunk?) and made everyone upset and feel out of sorts.  As a result, many members of the wedding party looked downtrodden in photos.  Please help him.

Also, I would love it if you could give Ian some hair.  I can see my face in his forehead. 

Grow some hair farmer Ethan,

"You've got a light in you boy!  Let it shine!"
-Strictly Ballroom 

From: Ethan Bxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
To: Rxxx Jxxxx
Subject: RE: Your work is so important to this university

Blinded By The Invite

I'm helping put together a Golden Reunion to celebrate alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago.  Every year I inevitably end up on the phone with some kind older man or woman who wants to reminisce about their time on the university campus and/or tell me about a recent hip replacement surgery.

Late last week we sent out a save the date card and have slowing been getting responses like, "Thank you for putting this together," and, "I can't wait to see the school again after all these years."  But my favorite was an email that came in over the weekend:

From: Rxx Jxxxx []
Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2011 1:00 PM
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
RE: Save the Date!
Thanks for the invitation, if i wasn't blind and could drive the 150 miles,k I would be there...Thanks again and have a greeat time...Rxx Jxxxx

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lenore's Big Cherry

(I'm checking my mail, which happens to be near Lenore's desk.  She is busy eating some sugary chocolate thing I cannot identify.  Some of the chocolate is on her face.)

Lenore: Hey, have you ever tried a Big Cherry?

Me: Excuse me?

L: Big Cherry. They were my favorite as a kid.  I used to buy four or five of them at once and just eat them.

Me: Hmm.  I've never heard of them.  And they're called Big Cherry?

(Lenore digs around in her garbage and eventually finds the messy wrapper from her Big Cherry.  She hands it to me.)

L: Yeah, Big Cherry.  Look 'em up.  You'll love 'em.


Never in My Life!

(Lenore comes into my office.  She is wearing her Land's End jacket and dragging her purse behind her.  My student assistant, Travis, is "working" at his desk nearby.)

Lenore: Can I just tell you something?

Me: Yes.  What's up?

L: In all my years working here, never in my life have Ellen [an assistant who sometimes answers office phone when Lenore is away] and I gone to lunch together.

Me: Wow.

L: And today we are.

Me: Good.

L: Can you believe we've never gone to lunch together?  Never!

(Main office phone rings in background, no one answers.)

Me: No.  That's unbelieveable.

L: I know.  Oh, (to Travis) I have your paycheck.  It's on my desk.

Travis: Can I get it now?

L: (grumbling) Uh, er, I'm leaving.

Travis: Isn't it just on your desk?  I can grab it.

(Main office phone rings again and no one answers.)

L: Well, I don't know it's, just, I'm leaving right now.

Travis: When will you be back?  Can't we just grab it real quick?  Is it locked up or something?  (laughs)

L: Fine.  I guess we can get it.

(Lenore and Travis head to her desk and a second later Travis comes back into my office with his paycheck in hand.  He rolls his eyes.  Lenore walks by door of my office before she heads out.  Main office phone rings.)

L: Okay, so Ellen and I are leaving.  So don't forget.

Me: Don't forget that you're leaving?

L: No, to answer the phones.  Nobody will be here.

Me: Oh, (hurried, picks up phone) Hello, University Development...

(Lenore waves goodbye and exits with Ellen.)


There's Banana Cake In Kitchen*

(Morning. Lenore walks into my office.)

Lenore: Excuse me, mister. Guess what?

Me: (making facial gesture, eyebrows raised with interest, encouraging her to go on with her thought) ...

L: Guess.

Me: I don't know, someone brought in cookies or something?

L: (amazed) Did you see in the kitchen already? Wow!

Me: No. You always tell me when there's cookies or cake in the kitchen.

L: I thought you saw it. Let me tell you something, it's banana cake and guess what else? Alena [who is a new employee] made it herself. With bananas and chocolate.

Me: Really.

L: And it is sooooo so yum.

Me: Sounds good. I make mine with peanut butter cups.

L: What?!

Me: Yup, I always use one more banana than the recipe calls for and add chopped-up peanut butter cups.

L: And then what?

Me: And then I mix it up and bake it.

L: Really, that's it? Not flour or sugar or any of that other stuff?

Me: Well, yes, of course, all the normal ingredients.

L: Really! What's that recipe? Tell me again.

Me: (slowly) One extra banana and peanut butter cups, chopped-up.

Le: And what else?

Me: The normal stuff.

L: (not writing anything down) Uh-huh?

Me: Uh, let's see, flour, sugar, baking soda, and butter, vanilla, um, an egg and...

L: (waving her hand in the air) That's too much for me to remember. Anyway, you should try Alena's banana cake. It's just normal banana cake and it's really yum.


*At the time of writing this Lenore let me know she'd already eaten 3 healthy pieces.

Originally posted March 23, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do Nut Touch

There are few faux pas that evoke disgust in all Americans.  Some of us are enraged by hot-button political issues while others don't have the energy to mind.  Some of us find a person not giving up their seat on public transport to an elderly person offensive, while others are too engrossed with their Kindels to lift a brow.  But cut a donut improperly and you'll have conservatives and liberals, young and old, black and white, dogs and cats drop what they're doing and all yell foul. 

FlapJane (a.k.a. Donut Top) is an officious, short, curly-headed, foreign-born transplant in my office who, despite her 26+ years of living in the United States has failed to grasp the concept of donut-cutting etiquette.  As with many workplaces in the morning, mine has a common area that is often stocked with a pink box of mixed donuts; glazed, old-fashioned chocolate, hot pink frosting with sprinkles, maple bars, jelly, powdered--all the favorites.  You want a donut?  Take one.  You want half a donut?  Take half.  But which half?

I first discovered FlapJane's faux pas a year or more ago.  I was retrieving some carrot sticks from the refrigerator when I happened upon her, mangling an old fashioned chocolate glazed and sprinkles donut with a cheap plastic knife.  More specifically, she was cutting it in half like you would a bagel, horizontally through the middle rather than, like a sandwich, down through the top.  "What are you doing?" I asked offensively and quick as if something were on fire.

"I'm cutting a donut," she said shortly.  "I only want half."

"But why are you cutting it like that and not down the middle?"

"I don't like the bottom part, just the stuff on top," she said without looking at me in the eye.

"But that's the part everyone likes!  Cut it down the middle like a normal person."  She laughed, dismissed me and skipped to her cubicle eating the top of the donut and leaving a trail of multicolored sprinkles in her wake.  I looked in the pastry box, stained with grease, seeing the dried old fashion bottom lying in the box like a rhino cut from its horn.  No chocolate.  No sprinkles on its underbelly.  A shoe without a sole.  I stood there stunned, clutching the pearls I wasn't wearing and struggling to understand what had just happened. 

Throughout the day people were asking, "Who ate the chocolate part of this donut and left the stump?" Fans of Seinfeld might remember the episode with Elaine only wanting to eat the tops of muffins, leaving a surplus of muffin "stumps" that even the homeless rejected.  It seems it would be better to just throw away the part you don't want rather than leave it for someone else.  While people continued to cluck about the defiled donut, I sat quietly at my desk, still in shock perhaps, not fingering the culprit and allowing puzzlement to ensue around the work place.

I toiled in my head: Was this a cultural rift that FlapJane traversed as she felt fit or is she just a selfish child and bitch?  More surprisingly, I didn't even know I felt so strongly about the method in which a donut is cut.  I don't even eat donuts (save a drunken late night out).  But bring this topic up over drinks and you'll find even the most rowdy bar united.  The whole thing was just unjust and it bothered me.

Over the next few days from this initial realization of what FlapJane had done, I slowly started to break my silence.  I didn't care about the needless office drama I might stir up.  I needed to find closure and a meaning behind this.  One-by-one, behind closed doors, I explained what I had witnessed.  Everyone (and I mean everyone) seemed deeply offended by what I had told them.  Like their child had been slapped by a passerby.  Why would anyone do such a thing to a donut, a staple, at one time or another, of the American breakfast?

Over the next couple of days a sign was made to post on future boxes of donuts: Do Not Cut Horizontally!  A crude how-to donut-cutting diagram was drawn.  Officefolk rallied on their breaks and soon, months passed and box after box of donuts were devoured properly and without incident.  And if donuts were cut it half, they were cut in half respectfully.  It seemed we had squelched the problem. 

Until last week.  My co-worker sent me a photo (see below) with a text message saying: "Why do these two donuts look like sliced bagels? Because fucking FLAPJANE  is a selfish bitch!"

Had FlapJane not learned her lesson?  Did she think she'd laid low long enough and thought we'd forgotten, or worse, not notice this act of cruelty again?  Surely the passive office-shunning and strategically placed notes carried some weight with her?  Or was that just another Americanism that rolled off her back?
Seeing this photo, I quickly sprang into action.  I posted the image above as a status update on my FB page and received some heated comments.  I needed people on my side.  Below are some of my favorites:
  • I think a proper payback would be cupcakes for her birthday. Just be sure to cut off all the tops and just leave her the part inside the paper.
  • Human beings never cease to amaze me...
  • I'm speechless.
  • How old is this woman???
  • Unacceptable! Shame on her!
  • If she is hungry for only half, then she must cut it through the circle, not slice it in half like a bagel. CRAZY! Maybe if you got to the box early and cut everything before she arrived and stashed it in a safe place, she would get the hint!   
Cut to earlier this week: there was another box of donuts in the kitchen.  While I didn't actually know that FlapJane was the guilty party back to her old tricks, no one else would stoop so very low.  So, with FlapJane sitting at her desk, I ignored my deadlines and closely monitored the treats and how they were being divided.  I was going to catch her and I was going to expose her once and for all.  I would come down on her with a God-like wrath.  It was Monday, afterall. 

Update: 10:59am, 9 donuts with tops in tact, 2 half donuts properly cut down through middle.

Update: 11:24am, no change. 9 donuts with tops in tact, 2 half donuts properly cut down through middle.

Update: 11:43am, 8 whole donuts, 1 half donut properly cut down through middle.

Update: 1:11pm, no changes since last transmission. 8 whole donuts, one half donut properly cut. What is DT waiting for?

Update:1:31pm, 3 whole donuts and 3 half donuts properly cut down through the middle. Maybe I scared DT off.  

Update: 2:04pm, 2 whole donuts and 3 half donuts properly cut down through the middle. Fearing this trap might not get sprung.

Update: 2:40pm, 1 whole donut and 3 half donuts. I took one.  

Update: 3:02pm, 1 whole donut and 3 half donuts. *drums fingers on desk*
Update: 3:31pm, 1 whole donut and 2 half donuts. *sighs loudly for attention*  

Update: 4:13pm, 1 whole donut and 2 half donuts. Just walked by DT's cubicle and saw her snacking on cherry tomatoes. Resisted urge to say, "You know, there's donuts in the break room and one with its top still in tact."

Update: 4:52pm, end of day, 1 whole donut (partially nibbled on), 2 half donuts properly cut down the middle. Tomorrow's another day. I'll get my white whale.

In the end I didn't catch FlapJane in the act of halving a donut the wrong way.  I'm patient.  And as I said, I'll get my white whale.  I'll lie in wait, high on my haunches and when the time is right...ROAR...FlapJane will be mine.  You mess with my donuts, you mess with my whole family.  Not half.  Whole. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lenore's Next Steps

(I'm sitting at my desk checking my phone messages when Lenore trundles in.)

Lenore: Excuse me mister. Elle [co-worker] left a message last night on my phone that she went to the bathroom after work yesterday and, uh, um...

Me: Yes?

L: I guess she had a bag with her and she left it in the ladies' room and I just went to check and, well, it wasn't there.

Me: Oh. So she left a bag in the ladies' room?

L: Yeah. And I couldn't find it.  I mean, I didn't see it or anything.

Me: I'm sorry to hear that.

L: Did you happen to see it?

Me: Uh, no. I use the men's room.

L: I know that, but I thought that you might have seen something.

Me: No, I don't go in the ladies' room--I mean, where would I have seen it?

L: I dunno.  I just don't have the slightest clue what to do next.

Me: Why don't you ask the janitors? They clean the bathrooms after work.

L: (brightening up) Bingo! That's a great, great idea!

(Exactly eight minutes later, Lenore walks by my office door with the bag in her hand.)

L: Found it!


Originally posted November 10, 2010