Friday, October 19, 2007

Bringing Food to an Office

Bringing food to your place of work will undoubtedly create some interesting sociological case studies that always fit into the following laws of office food consumption:

For starters, the magical 80/20 rule applies here: it's only the same 20% of workers who voluntarily bring in food, while the same 80% of the office workers who always devour it.

Secondly, you will notice that nobody really cares who brought the food in, nor do they bother to thank the food-bearer or even acknowledge his/her existence. Instead, the slightest brush of the brownie plate on formica in the break room results in a merciless stampede of scavengers to attack the fresh goodies. Watch out!

But lastly, and perhaps most interestingly, there's a very distinct sequence of events that follow the rush to the trough. It goes a little something like this: The initial 75% of the food (be it pie, cookies, donuts, etc.) will be gone in roughly the first 10% of the food's life of sitting on the counter, while the remaing 25% of the food will last for 90% of the food's counter-lifetime. Allow me to explain with an example:

Sweet Mary brings in a fresh sheet of brownies to work one dreary Tuesday morning. As soon as she eases off the plastic wrap, a squadron of vultures pounces to get a piece of the action. Within minutes, 75% of the tray has been ravaged, leaving a thin row of brownies and a smattering of crumbs. Elapsed time of the brownies' life on the break room counter so far: 6 minutes. Percentage of brownies eaten: 75%.

But now the slow death of the remaining brownie tray begins. Once the room clears out, Timid Timmy from accounting will happen by the chocolatey chunk of brownies on his way to the coffee machine. He'll look around and take a sliver and slink off back to his cave, errr, desk. Elapsed time: 10 minutes. Brownies devoured: 80%.

After a while passes, Slick Steve from sales will stumble upon the sweet treat and get himself sugared up for his next rush of cold calls. Elapsed time 20 minutes. Brownies devoured: 90%.

Tara, Sara, and Lara, the inseparable pack from payroll charge in once they see Steve eating his slice of brownie goodness and they each eat small little morsels at a time, crumbs included ("because crumbs have less calories"). Elapsed time: 19 minutes. Brownies devoured: 95%

Bored, Bob the boss bumbles his way into the break room and fixes upon the remaining corner of brownies on the tray. He can't resist, but is courteous enough to leave a sliver for someone else; or perhaps he doesn't want to be the jerk boss who ate the last piece. Elapsed time: 36 minutes. Brownies devoured: 98%

Pumped from his slam-dunk sales call, Steve returns to the break room to celebrate with some more good-luck sweetness. He sees only a tiny chunk left. He pauses for a minute and strokes his chin. He thinks about how much he really deserves it, and goes and sidles up to the counter, cutting off a piece and leaving only a pencil thin portion for someone else. Elapsed time: 47 minutes. Brownies devoured: 99.3%

Over the course of the next 12 minutes, 10 people will stroll in hoping to get one last bite before the brownies go bust, but opt not to take that last piece because they want to leave some for someone else, and don't want to be seen as the person who took the last brownie slice. Elapsed time: 59 minutes. Brownies devoured: still 99.3%

Finally, sweet Mary returns to the break room to see what's left of her delivery and to sneak a small piece of her delicious creation. Shocked and dismayed that only a tiny sliver remains (this being the only piece Mary has had a chance to eat because she wanted to give everyone else first dibs and decided to actually do her work and come back later) she dejectedly takes the last bite. Elapsed time: 60 minutes. Brownies devoured. 100%

To add insult to injury, someone else drops the guilt trip on Mary because she took the last piece, and, her mouth being full, she can't even explain that she was the one who brought them in in the first place and had every right to take the last piece. To top it off, Mary then spends 15 teeth-clenching minutes scouring the plate clean with wet napkins drenched in pink handsoap because there's no other cleaning supplies, and nobody else will bother to clean the dish. Not such a sweet deal for sweet Mary now, is it? She says she'll never bring in another thing because nobody else does and she never gets to eat what she brings in. But, inevitably, she still winds up bringing her food creations to work because, well, she's a sucker, and of course nobody else brings food in anyway, so she feels like she should...

And that's what you get when you bring food to an office.

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