If I’ve talked to you in person in the past year, you may have heard me attempt to explain the book I’m working on. Something like: “It’s a funny memoir about all the jobs I’ve had since college.” So far I have written a bunch of words and am 60% done. Because I miss blogging, but now spend my free time writing the book, I’m going to start sharing excerpts every so often so you have a better idea of what I’m doing. And now, a brief outtake of my temporarily titled book “Elevator Farts: My life working in an office” (Title pending, although I kind of like it).
(This is about the job I had working as a sales analyst which I didn’t like, but I was able to go to a conference in New Orleans with my coworkers and eat at fancy restaurants.)
Eating with the group the first night was like a junior high dance. For the first hour, everyone is silent and awkward even though you see each other every single day. Wine was ordered, but it didn’t help. I was silent and focused on what to order, knowing that if I ever came back to NOLA, I’d be eating at grungy pizza places that were only known for being open at three in the morning, not fancy restaurants where the waiter knew the history of the building and folded your napkin when you went to the bathroom.
The reason no one talks the first night at dinner is because everyone is intensely concentrated on what to order. To be clear: no one is thinking about what they want to eat (unless they don’t care about losing their job like normal people!) but what will impress the boss without breaking the bank. So much thought goes into ordering in front of coworkers, it’s insane.
First you have the price. You want to match your price to what you conservatively think you are worth to the company. Last person on the totem pole? Order a salad. Big time CEO that just saved the company? You’ve earned that porter house steak. Some people might think they are steak worthy, but one look from your boss will tell you if you’ve earned that entrée. It is better to undershoot than to go big, but you don’t want to convey that you are a cheap pasta, because that can make your manager think you aren’t pulling your weight.
Next there is the food itself. To make sure I order something office appropriate, I check the five senses:
- Touch: Do I need my hands for this? If so, maybe don’t order that sloppy burrito.
- Taste: Don’t order something weird that everyone will remember you for. The key is to stand out for flavor, not your weird food preferences that will make you look like a freak and get you a name like ‘that girl who eats sheep eyeballs.’
- Smell: Do NOT order the smelliest fish in the sea, no matter how many breath mints you have with you.
- Sight: Slurping up a strand of spaghetti is only cute if you’re a cartoon dog in love.
- Sound: SLLLUUUURRRP. That’s the sound of you eating soup, which leads to you getting fired, which will lead you to a soup kitchen, where you can slurp all the soup you want.
Last there are points for originality. Similar to price where you don’t want to go insane, you want to land somewhere right on the axis of interesting, but not overly absurd. I chose the scallops in a fancy sauce with a side of schmancy potatoes. Sounds boring, but given my affinity for being a crappy worker and that most likely I would never return to NOLA proper, I didn’t want to chance it with a strange entrée that may have tasted bad. There were a lot of mistakes I made at this job, but ordering those delicious scallops are probably what kept me from getting fired.
As it turns out, the team was big on sharing each other’s food, and mine was by far the best pick. Joanne had an expensive steak that was overdone. Honestly, who orders steak in a sea-bordering state? Morons, that’s who. As the plates went around, everyone marveled at the scallop-potatoes masterpiece that was on my plate, proving that although I didn’t know what I was doing at work, at least I could order dinner correctly!
And then my plate passed to the boss, and everyone waited with bated breath to see her decree, which was manifested in the form of two raised eyebrows, indicating surprise and approval. To this day, I remember that eyebrow raise. I couldn’t tell you whether my own mother looked proud at my college graduation, but I know that my boss enjoyed my scallops. (Note: relax, mom, you were totally at my graduation, I know. I’m using this sentence for dramatic effect!)
Hope you enjoyed it! Look for this icon for the next piece, coming soon.