Category Archives: Random Officeness

Reading Terminal Market, The Gallery, and Specialization

On 1/18/11 at 2:29 p.m. J writes:
It’s not like I really want to stick my finger in the eyes of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, but eating at the Reading Terminal Market is an exercise in disappointment.

I want to like it. I mean it is, after all, the READING TERMINAL MARKET!!! A holy place of eating in a city famous for being fat because, well, we know how to eat and, for the most part, how to cook.

But I’ve eaten at the Reading Terminal Market four times now, and each time I’ve said, “That’s it, I’m never going back!” and yet I keep going back like a dog to his own vomit or a battered spouse because, well, I keep thinking this will be the time. But it never is.

Today I had lunch at the Cajun place, the name of which I cannot recall. I love Cajun food. Of all the places I have visited in my business travels, the place I have loved the most is New Orleans. Even the Food Court at the mall by the Convention Center in New Orleans is an exercise in deliciousness. When Katrina hit, and I did my requisite feeling bad for the people trapped in flooded houses and hating President Bush for his non-response, my first real cognitive thought was, “I wonder what happened to Mulate’s. They had awesome Po Boys.” Call me insensitive, but I really didn’t know anyone from the Ninth Ward; I did know Mulate’s sandwiches.

Where was I? Oh yes, Philadelphia.

Reading Terminal Market can be overwhelming in its choices, but a couple of days ago I walked by the Cajun place and they offered me a free sample of their chicken and sausage gumbo. The cup was a typical sample size, but somehow the lovely young lady filling my sample cup managed to get both a piece of chicken and a piece of sausage in it, and it was delicious. I decided right then and there that I would head back someday and get lunch.

Too many options, IJS.

Today in Philadelphia it’s cold and miserable. I had packed a bologna sandwich with some fruit, chips and cookies, but the weather really called for hot soup, and my preference is hot spicy soup, and gumbo fits that bill. So I set out on a quest for the one true lunch. I took no companions because I didn’t want them cramping my style. I have no real evidence of this but I suspect that people who have first dates at Reading Terminal Market don’t make it to second dates.

“So where do you want to eat, dear?”

“Oh I don’t know, where do you want to eat?”

“How about here.”

“Do you want to eat there?”

“I don’t know, do you?”

“How about here?”

“Do you like that food?”

“Do you?”

And assuming the guy hasn’t gone all Kensington Strangler on his date by this point, the couple likely winds up eating at Chili’s which, whatever its demerits, is at least predictable.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the gumbo.

So I order the chicken and sausage gumbo, and here’s the part they don’t tell you when they sample—IT’S SERVED OVER RICE!!!!!! The sample was not served over rice; the sample came in a small free cup. Basically, the gumbo at the Cajun place is an exercise in selling rice for $7 because by the time the little twit filled my bowl with heaping spoonfuls of rice there wasn’t much room for the gumbo, and despite my best efforts the rice managed to absorb most of the gumbo sauce so I was left eating a flavorless bowl of rice with a couple of pieces of sausage.

And the whole exercise came to $9.40 because I wanted something to drink (next time I’m bringing my own bottled water) and Philadelphia sales tax is 8 percent.

From now on, I’m sticking to the free samples.
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I remind him what he ripped off from me and his love of the free sample guy in The Gallery:
“So I set out on a quest for the one true lunch. I took no companions because I didn’t want them cramping my style.”

You’re welcome.

“From now on, I’m sticking to the free samples.”

…and retarded people.
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J retorts:

Hey man, if we’re going to share a brain I’m going to use your material sometimes.

My little retarded friend was at Chic Fil A today, but he was back wiping the counter, which is a degrading waste of his time because he’s actually really good at passing out free chicken, not that it’s hard, but you know, when someone does something right you want to acknowledge it in a world where all we do is criticize people, so what I’m saying is, HERE’S TO YOU RETARDED YOUNG MAN AT CHIC FIL A! THANK YOU FOR YOUR EXCELLENCE!!

You know what else I learned about free samples today in the Gallery?

First, the samples at Charley’s Cheese steaks are way better than the actual sandwiches you pay for. Even controlling for the fact that the samples are free, they never get the sandwiches right. But if you hit the free sample lady at just the right time it’s the perfect taste.

Second, if you’re getting sick of Bourbon Chicken, walk by one of the stands and wait for them to ask if you want a free sample. You can ask for whatever you want. Today I asked to sample their General Tso’s chicken knowing full well what it tastes like. I suppose when you have an interaction with the person behind the counter, as opposed to a sad, silent type standing in the crossway with a piece of chicken on a toothpick, you might feel more of a sense to buy lunch there. I didn’t. I took my sample and walked away, but a person with social graces might.
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I remind him:

I’m pretty sure you already did several posts about free samples in the Gallery…specifically Charley’s Cheese and how their samples are more delicious than their actual product.

Some might call it a repeat…more genius staff assistants would say you’ve gone into syndication.

And, as a generalist, I too applaud the retarded young man at Chic Fil-he has become a master of a specific craft and he needs to be recognized. He has succeeded in specificity in a way I have not…bravo!
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J:
Or perhaps that I’m resting on my laurels. The Gallery is a gift that keeps on giving when it comes to material. Today I noticed four uniformed and well armed security agents leaning on a post talking to each other, interested in nothing so much as their own engaging conversation. You could have held someone up at gun point and they might not have noticed. Made me feel a lot safer.

When you find yourself being a bit jealous of a man who’s main job function is passing out chicken on a toothpick you perhaps need to reevaluate your choices. I’m just saying.
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Me:
Remember that article Nancy sent us about that strangling that happened at 11 a.m. last week in the Gallery? Yeah-made me feel great about unknowingly spending my lunch break there at Five Below on the same day.

Reevaluate my choices I am. Maybe instead of working in an office, I could work in an ice cream shop. I’d really love scooping ice cream all day and handing out cones to people. I mean, you get to give people ICE CREAM all day.

Hey-maybe I’ll see if Ben & Jerry’s is hiring…
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J, for the last time:
Yeah I remember. I walk through the Gallery regularly. I know exactly where it happened and exactly where he was found. I see people screaming at each other there all the time.

I was at the library this afternoon over my lunch break. I saw that some janitorial services was hiring. Third shift, cleaning office buildings. For a moment, I considered it. I loved being a janitor. I actually considered applying to my campus department after graduating. I found the work satisfying, I liked the people (and not just the other students, the full time folks who have made custodial services at a small Christian liberal arts college their career) but then my friend Jeannine’s mom said I was nuts and she was right, so I took the path I’m currently on. But there are moments when I’m being figuratively shit on that I think to myself, it would be better to just literally clean up people’s shit because at least then I wouldn’t be fooling anyone about what my job is or my station in life.

Ben & Jerry’s is awesome. They have a policy that the top executives cannot make more than seven times what the people on the lowest rung make. In practice, this means they have a hard time finding executive talent, but it probably also means you can make quite a lot selling ice cream and no one yells at the ice cream man.

Tis the season for…

J writes via email:

It occurs to me that with Thanksgiving next week, we have now officially entered the holiday season. Retailers, desperate to squeeze the last dollar out of a beleaguered consumer, started their sales a lot earlier this year which makes me wonder, are there any chumps who pay full price for anything anymore? Probably we all are because retailers aren’t chumps either and they likely mark everything up so they can mark everything down in time for us to fill each other’s lives with a lot of cheap imports so we can alleviate the guilt that comes from ignoring each other all year.

Christmas is a uniquely obtrusive holiday because it leaves everyone depressed. First there are the truly less fortunate who can barely make ends meet throughout the year and certainly don’t have the resources to fill the area under the tree with a lot of wrapped up crap, or even much less afford a tree. My heart breaks when I think of kids who don’t get anything for Christmas, especially when I consider that most everyone I know will exacerbate the trade imbalance with China as we fill our kids lives with a lot of cheap plastic crap that will either be broken inside of two hours, forgotten inside of three weeks and out in a garage sale inside of four months as the weather gets warm and we go a wassailing through people’s driveways in search of things that they couldn’t even care enough about to get all the way down the driveway to the trash can.

Seriously, ever notice there is only a one letter difference between garage sale and garbage sale? It’s as if someone one day was trying to take out their trash, threw their back out or something and then said, “well maybe I’ll just start putting price tags on things and see what happens.” Thus the underground economy of the garage sale was born, but that’s a topic for another post.

The thing about the holidays is they require a lot of forced socialization. First there are our families—and did you hear the surgeon general wants us to spend Thanksgiving Dinner talking about our family medical histories so we can better understand our genetic risks? True story. I can just see it now.

“Uncle Ed, no one wants to hear what color your shit was yesterday! We’re trying to eat.”

“Hey, I’m just following the surgeon general’s recommendation.”

“Have another glass of gravy and blow it out your ass.”

“Speaking of…”

As if families were not bad enough, there is a lot of forced socialization with our co-workers as we go to departmental Christmas parties, office-wide Christmas parties, industry-convention sponsored Christmas parties, important client Christmas events, and the one at the boss’s house that only a few people are invited to. These are the worst social chores. If you are lucky enough to have gainful employment in this era, you likely spend most of your waking hours there and the last thing you need is to spend even more of it at a holiday party I don’t care how much you like everybody.

Can we all give each other the best Christmas present ever and acknowledge that just because we work together it does not mean that we have to be friends? This does not mean that we don’t like each other, but if you are lonely it’s not my fault and you should not make me feel like it’s my obligation to give you a social life just because we share a cube wall. If you want to be part of a community go join a church. It’s not hard to find one that doesn’t expect all that much from you, especially this time of year. Yes, I’m talking to you Christmas and Easter folks.

But the Christmas Party is the worst social chore.

Employers want to celebrate the end of a good year.

Except…

Unless you work in bankruptcy foreclosures this year pretty much sucked for you. You didn’t get a raise, your sales barely held on and you likely lost your job. If you didn’t lose your job you lived in constant fear of losing it, and you were asked to do more with less as everyone tried to save money. So it seems like the easiest way to save even more money is to not have a catered affair with a lot of alcohol, the bill for which could easily have paid the salary of the staff assistant that was let go to save money.

That level of holiday cheer never happens...in offices.

The holidays are a reason to celebrate.

Except…

No one can agree on if it’s ok to say Merry Christmas because we’re all walking on eggshells trying to be polite to everyone. So I’m just going to say it. Starting on November 26, when I say goodbye to you, I’m going to say Merry Christmas. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, fine, but don’t get all huffy and remind me of your right to ignore a holiday that 99.9 percent of the country celebrates without incident. When you decided to celebrate one of the other holidays you knew you were going to be in a minority, so own it.

That said, I don’t think anyone should be forced to celebrate at a holiday party. Last year at my office there were Christmas carols, and there was talk of a Christmas play. It’s pretty diverse here in terms of faith and I could not think of any way this would not be offensive to someone and fortunately eventually the powers that be saw clear to eliminate the play. The songs stayed, but I compensated by singing “walking round in women’s underwear” as loud as I could.

The Christmas party gives people a reason to socialize with co-workers we wouldn’t normally see…

Except…

I have heard of no stories where this turns out well. Yes, I suppose you could finally meet that cute girl from accounting, but here’s the thing, if you haven’t hooked up by now, she’s probably married or attached, and if she’s not she’s really lonely and you do not want to have to deal with the dysfunction of a lonely person around the holidays.

Plus, if you work in a big office, you won’t see each other again and you’ll likely engage in a drunk hook up that everyone in the office will remember even if they don’t talk about and you’ll become the subject of a whisper campaign that will last until at least the following Christmas party where you’ll get the chance to do it all again.

For some reason, the Christmas parties will go on though and I’ll go to them because I’m obligated to. Because no one wants to be the Grinch.

But I won’t have fun, and neither will you. Maybe we should all just say so.

Now who wants pie?

Post-Lunch, Pre-Labor Day Observations

I begged J to write a blog post, thankfully, he acquiesced today at 1:18 pm:

So today was a rather productive lunch hour.

First, I went to Borders. Rather disappointing. I had gone because the store had enticed me with a 40 percent off coupon that had to be used before Labor Day and I’m going to be busy all weekend. Thing is, the Borders at 13th and Chestnut doesn’t really have a non-fiction section, so I wasn’t sure where the book I wanted, “MORNING MIRACLE: INSIDE THE DECLINE OF THE WASHINGTON POST,” was going to be.

So I went to the computer and typed it in. Within about three seconds some pimple faced kid was on me like I was going to discover his porn collection with the ubiquitous, “can I help you sir?” I told him I had done a search for the book I wanted and it was showing, “not in store.” He said that was right, but if I wanted they could order it for me and it would be in within three to eight business days.

That seemed an inordinately long amount of time for a business that had a separate online operation that can deliver things in 24 hours, so I thanked him for nothing and went on my way.

And here’s the thing that really annoyed me about Borders. I used their bathroom. It was painted bright yellow. I don’t want to quibble, but should we really be painting a place where you pee bright yellow?

I’m just saying.

Is that little boy holding a GUN?

On my way back I walked through the Gallery. Sampling was a mixed bag today. They had the Charley’s Cheese Steak samples out, but she had gone back for a new sandwich when I passed through the first time. Out of three places that serve Bourbon chicken, only one was giving it away. And my little retarded friend that gives away chicken nuggets was nowhere to be found.

Auntie Anne’s was giving away free pieces of their pretzel covered hot dogs. I took two samples and got a glare. Is it coming out of your pocket pal?

Speaking of Chic-fil-a, I finally bought their Spicy Chicken Sandwich. It was a little disappointing. I mean it’s basically just a spicy version of their regular chicken sandwich, which I suppose I should have expected, but it still left me with a certain emptiness.

And for reasons I have never understood, Chic-fil-a puts just pickles on their chicken sandwich. Not free lettuce, not free tomatoes. Free pickles.

Pickles have a very distinct taste and they don’t really add anything to the sandwich.

Again, I’m just saying.

Marinating Cat

Via email yesterday at 1:09 p.m. Subject line-“This may be the most disturbing news story I’ve seen in a while” J writes:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/08/11/marinating-cat-menu-new-home/?test=faces

(It’s about how police pulled a man over for a traffic stop and found a cat marinating in peppers and onions in his trunk-he was going to eat it).
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I write back:

WHAT?

WHAT?

WHAT?

That is. OH MY GOSH.

I’m in disbelief.
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J responds:

Can you imagine someone sticking that sweet feline in a pot of peppers and onions? Not me man. He ought to be strung up.

Navarro, the car cat.

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I bring it back to the blog:

Could this be a Cake in the Conference Room post?

Speaking of cake in an office room, I just had a little sliver of A’s devil’s food cake: OMG it was so good.
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J:

I’d rather not blog about cats in peppers and onions. I love cats. I love peppers and onions. But the two do not go together.

But it does remind me of a song…because far too many things remind me of a song (to the tune of “Cat’s in the Cradle.”)

“And the cat’s in the kettle at the Peking Moon
“Where I go to lunch every day at noon
“They tell me that it’s beef or chicken or pork
“But it’s purring on my fork, yeah, it’s purring on my fork.”

I had one of those chicken sandwiches for lunch; my throat didn’t close up.

And I had a slab, not a sliver, but a slab of A’s cake. It was like there was a party in my mouth. Although every time I think of Red velvet cake I’m reminded of Steel Magnolias where they baked a red velvet cake in the shape of an armadillo and called it bleeding armadillo cake.
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Me:

“But it’s purring on my fork, yeah, it’s purring on my fork.”

That’s why I loved working at P.F. Chang’s.

No. Not because we ate cat disguised as other animals, but because I knew we were getting all white meat chicken and whatnot.

That and Family Meal. Family Meal was hilarious. A giant Tupperware vat with two, count ‘em TWO, different Chang’s delicacies-usually orange peel chicken and some type of beef or salad. No divider; one ladle.
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J:

I think you told me about Family Meal before.
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Then J comes out of his office and begins serenading me and the intern with his rendition of “Cat’s in the Kettle.” We all laugh about it, I tell him that he has a thing for parody versions of songs; at the office holiday party, while everyone else was sort of singing “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”, J was singing, “Walking Round in Women’s Underwear.”

He says it’s a video, and runs into his office. I hear some music playing, him chortling uncontrollably, and then his door slamming. Momentarily, he sends me the following link with the subject line, “That didn’t take long to find.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR4RNK1L2DA

PS-I tagged this as “Food Trucks” for obvious reasons (just because the man wasn’t going to sell the cat from his car doesn’t mean there’s wasn’t a food truck involved).

Enjoy.

Don’t Be Lazy, k? Thx.

Via e-mail beginning at 1:40 p.m.
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J writes:

I hate to be the one to stand athwart the cultural wave and shout, STOP!!, but can we please stop abbreviating the words thank you in our e-mails? E-mail has already proven to be an incipient time waster, robbing us of any ability to have complete thoughts as we rush to every ping or blip only to discover disappointedly, or perhaps not, another ad for HOT GIRLS.COM.

More communication crime has been committed over e-mail than any other medium, even if the volume of e-mails relative to letters and phone calls makes the whole comparison skewed. How many times have you sent an e-mail, pissed someone off because they inferred a tone that wasn’t there, and then spent the rest of the day apologizing for what might have never happened had you gotten off your fat ass and had a face to face conversation with a person who works three feet down the hall? Thought so.

I’m hardly an erudite, but the abbreviation of thank you is the last straw for me. I have received so many one word e-mails this week that simply had thx or thanx or some other variation of Thank You. Yeah, thanks for taking the time. Just like nothing says I put no thought into this whatsoever than the gift of a paper-weight (very many wind storms in your air conditioned increasingly paperless office?) nothing says I need to acknowledge you but can’t find the time than abbreviating the words Thank You. Our culture has already eliminated thank you notes; this is just a bridge too far.

Thank you for taking the time to read.
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I concur:

I AGREE.

I like abbreviating words for comedic effect (like profesh, pretensh-got that one from a co-worker, abbrev, mome, etc) but HATE when people say thx (where’s the “N”?) but even more so, “thanx.” Really? You couldn’t spare ONE EXTRA KEYSTROKE to properly type the “K” and add an “S”?

That, is the epitome of laziness.

Also-I hate when people say drop the “G” off the end of a word BUT ADD AN APOSTROPHE.

Any time you may have saved (oh and how presh your time must be!) in order to eliminate that keystroke is completely wasted by adding the ‘.  I mean, really? If anything, you probably added EXTRA time because everyone knows that typing anything that isn’t a letter adds like, .10 seconds onto your typing speed.

Nah’ mean?