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. 

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