Friday, February 04, 2011

ThePeach breaks her own rules, part 1

Ok, I’m going to break my rules already and blog about work.

Well, kind of. I’m going to blog about the cafeteria.

We have a cafeteria on the third floor of the building. It’s always quite busy, because journalists like to eat and most journalists don’t have time to prepare home-made meals. Plus the cafeteria serves (crappy, burned, stale) Starbucks coffee, which should speak for itself.

I go there a lot, mostly for coffee. I also went through a bacon sandwich and hash brown phase in the fall, but I quit that when my jeans stopped buttoning up and I kept getting these weird twinges in my left arm.

So, let’s say, on a typical shift, I’ll grab a coffee at 8am, 10:30am, wander in and eyeball the baked goods at 1pm but leave with a coffee and then go gnaw angrily on a carrot stick, and then grab another coffee around 3 or 4.

If you think that sounds like a lot of coffee (plus the two I need at home to get my ass out the door), I say you are WRONG. The fact that I get home from work after an 11 hour shift and collapse on the couch in a post-caffeine fit of tears and exhaustion is not a problem for my life at all. BI is really good at patting my knee consolingly and passing me my laptop so I can watch Grey’s Anatomy reruns and sniffle every time I see George. OH GOD GEORGE.

Not a problem at all.

It was even worse when I went through two months of starting at 7am, and immeasurably bad when I spent a week starting at 6am. I think I’m part of some kind of social experiment in my work place.


Suffice to say, I’ve spent a lot of time observing the cafeteria and the people who work there.

Take Louise, the register lady. Louise is, for lack of a better word, grizzled and hateful. She’s probably in her mid-60s, she’s small and scrappy – like a Mexican street dog – and she has a grating, nasal voice and beady little eyes. When I hand her a toonie each morning I’m not sure if I’m getting my change or if I’m about to get punched in the throat.

Every day that I interact with her is like Russian Roulette. Some mornings – rare, beautiful mornings - she calls me ‘dear’ and gives me a disconcerting grin. But most mornings she glares at me with those beady eyes and snatches change out of my hand like a New Delhi street-child.

The other thing you need to know about the cafeteria is that they have great tunes. They play a classic adult contemporary station up there.

I went to the cafeteria for my 3pm coffee one day last week. Marvin Gaye’s “Heard it through the grapevine” was pumping through the speakers. This is one of my favourite soul classics, so I did a little groove-thang while I poured splenda in my coffee. No one else was there except Louise, who glared at me, as per usual, from the register.

Also as per usual, when I went to pay she was missing from her station. I looked around, expecting her to pop up from behind the salad bar or scoot across the floor with her arms full of milk cartons.

She was nowhere to be seen, so I knew she was in the elusive back room of the cafeteria – the area behind the grill where the workers slap together sandwiches and de-clog the deep-fryer. It could also be the portal to a parallel universe for all I know.

I waited. God help you if you ever think ringing the service bell is a good idea. And that’s when I heard it: Louise’s grating, nasal, angry voice – SINGING.

“Heard it through the graaaape vine.”

It was more like a grunt, really, or the clearing of phlegm.

I left my toonie on the register.

She could keep the quarter.


Join me later for part 2, where I describe the Caribbean grill-chef who unabashedly rapes me with his eyes.


Claire Brownell said...

Louise sounds like Vivian.

Anonymous said...

You're killing me. Where's part two?!

Tanish M. said...

"New Delhi street-child" ...on the side of offensive, if it is of any specific concern.

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