Sometimes, life conspires against you. Sometimes you’re looking for the simple route, but the only decent road you’ve got takes the long way. Sometimes, no matter how much you want to do the right thing, you get nothing but a kick in the face.
Obviously, I’m talking about lunch.
I had a bunch of work to do today and, as is common when that’s the case, I decided to work through lunch. Yes, I’m sure there’s a bunch of reasons that’s a bad idea: mental fatigue and burnout and all that. But when the rubber meets the road and you’re staring a project deadline in the face, you have to decide if you really want to tell your five year-old that you can’t read to her at bedtime because you have work to do. Do you want to carry that guilt around because you pissed an hour away at midday while reading the latest Kardashian gossip online* while stuffing your face at your desk?
And no, quickly recounting the E! Online headlines to you daughter framed as a bad princess story does not make it okay. Quit thinking that you can just tell her the cautionary tale of the Spoiled, Wicked Step-Sisters Famous for…um…Being Famous or Goldilocks and the Enchanted Ankle Sensor. How about we take the high road for once?
Indeed, my decision was an easy one; I would be working while I noshed. The problem then was that The Voice really wanted a sandwich. It often wants sandwiches, because sandwich makers are usually enabling enough to offer a plainly ridiculously size loaf of bread jammed with meat. As I said, it’s not often that I order a reasonably-sized sub.
Size considerations were irrelevant, though, because while I do have sandwich options for lunch, they all involve at least a fifteen minute drive. The idea was to spend the hour working, remember? Sadly, in the immediate vicinity of the office, the food options are limited. Truth is, I kind of work next to the ghetto. Not smack dab in the ghetto, thankfully, but near enough that I probably have better access to a variety of high-quality controlled substances than I do high-quality take-out.
Of course, there are a handful of fast-food options, yes. But I do my best to avoid fast food whenever possible. I’ve done plenty of damage to my body in the past 37 years; the last thing I need to do is feed it fast-food value meals that are the caloric equivalent of all the food consumed in an average third-world country today. Why yes, thank you, I’d love a half pound of high-fat meat on a bun and a trough of fries. Can I get that delivered to Sierra Leon? Sally Struthers asked me to help.
Also, did you not read about The Voice? The last thing I need to do is go into any establishment offering a Super-Size/Royal-It/ Embiggenate option. The Voice never saw an up-size it didn’t like.
So, my choices were thus limited to mediocre Chinese take-out or mediocre Chinese take-out.
Surprisingly, I went with the mediocre Chinese take-out. The hot and sour soup isn’t bad, if you can get past the sensation of injecting sodium directly into your bloodstream.
IF nothing else, the Chinese place is quick, at least; I was there and back at my desk in five minutes. Upon my return, as I began to eat and work, I was struck with two odd thoughts regarding my lunch:
- How is it that tiny little Chinese places have soup heated to nuclear-detonation temperatures? Every time I peel the lid off of one of those foggy plastic containers and slurp up that first spoon of hot and sour, the skin melts away from the roof of my mouth like those dudes in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I couldn’t make something at home that hot if I summoned every BTU available from my stove, oven, fireplace, gas-grill, and outdoor fire-pit and focused them into a single beam of Ultra-Mega-Jedi-Light-Saber Heat. Clearly, they must have a dragon keeping the soups warm in the back.
- Why must the people working in the kitchen at tiny Chinese restaurants scream constantly as if arguing? I used to think they were pissed at each other, permanently. Probably for having to work with a dragon. Nowadays, though, I think it’s just how things work. Kind of like how the waitress at the Waffle House has to be in exactly the right spot relative to the cook to call the hash brown order or the scattered, smothered, and chunked won’t come out right. Likewise, if the General Tsao’s isn’t ordered with a threatening tone, it somehow won’t be spicy.
Unfortunately, my mediocre Chinese take-out was less than outstanding. Shocking, I know. It might have gone a long way towards actually being mediocre, but I ordered the Chicken and Broccoli, extra spicy. It wasn’t spicy. It was just chicken with broccoli.
They must have been having polite day in the kitchen.
But at least I got to read to my kids before bed.