Monday, August 19, 2013

Man battles Nature for claim to ho-hum outdoor dining location

Most days at work I eat lunch at my desk, all alone.
                Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold your tears, please. I much prefer things that way.
                I’m not exactly the world’s most social creature in most situations and those goes double for when I’m eating. I don’t mind the occasional group lunch, but it’s not something I’ll make a daily habit of.
                When I’m eating, I just like to eat. And listen to podcasts and creep out people in the bathroom. But we’ve talked about that already.
                It’s nice to zone out while eating. When you’re with people, there’s a lot of pressure to be engaging and present both mentally and physically. It’s the mental part that’s tough. My mind is and always will be a drifter at heart. It doesn’t have a heart, but you get the idea.
                So most day I eat lunch alone at my desk and zone out. Wow, we haven’t made a lot of progress yet, have we?
                When the weather’s nice however, I like to venture outside. The office building where I work has a handful of picnic tables scattered around outside. Year-round, these exist mostly to enable smokers by giving them some place to sit and smoke a butt.
                Starting sometime in April, however, they actually get used for their intended, food-related purposes. That lasts until usually early September, when they become the dominion of the smokers again.

                There are some really nice picnic tables out front of the building. You can get a little bit of sun and even look across the parking lot and see the pond on the campus of a neighboring company. Sometimes there are geese on that pond and everything. It’s a pretty serene sight, or so I’d guess.
                I couldn’t say for sure because I’ve never sat out front. Those tables tend to be very popular, so clearly I avoid them as if they’d been dosed with the flesh-eating virus and reeked of old fancy cheese.
                The table I prefer is out back. It’s located completely in the shade of the building and has a lovely view of another parking lots and a steep hill topped with a major roadway. You can’t actually see the roadway because the vegetation that grows on the hill is in complete command. It’s Amazonian in scope. You can hear the roadway, so by god you know it’s there, somewhere.
                No geese either.    
                Of course, all of that adds up to mean no one usually sits there, so I have it all to myself, which is pleasant.
                The lack of a view doesn’t bother me so much. I zone out a lot, remember? The shade is a bit of a problem. For one thing, how’s a guy supposed to get a tan sitting in the shade all the time?
                The real problem is that even though the table is in the shade, it has more to do with the position of the sun in the sky and not because it’s under any sort of cover. Anytime it rains, the table just gets soaked.
                Then, since it gets no sun, it stays wet for days and days and so forth from there. Which means, I either get my butt wet sitting at this table soaked with three day old rain, or I stay inside.
                Usually, I’ll stay inside. I mean, given the choices, what’s a boy to do?
                I do try to take advantage of sitting outside as much as I can though, considering the circumstances. Who can argue with a little fresh air and the chance to get out from under the florescent nightmare that is the interior of an office building?
                One day this past week I had just settled in, opened up my Rachel Ray-brand lunch bag and took out some yogurt, when I noticed it.
                A huge, green monster of a bug that was either a holdover from some bygone era where it walked shoulder to shoulder with dinosaurs, or the result of some nearby atomic bomb tests that I had been unaware of.
                It was bigger than any two other bugs I’d ever seen, combined. It had the roar of a full-grown African lion … well maybe not. But the son of a gun was big and mean looking for sure.
                I sat there eyeing up this beast, knowing full-well that if it chose to do so, it could easily overpower me and claim my lunch for its own. Unless it preferred to make a meal out of me, which it wouldn’t even have to break a sweat to do.
                I considered heading back inside and ceding the table, but my stubbornness got the best of me. I decided that I had as much right to the table as that creature did. So I finished my lunch, moving a little bit faster than usual, admittedly.  Like I said, I wasn’t looking to become anybody else’s lunch.
                I stared down the ugly mandibles of Mother Nature and survived.
                My only regret is that I didn’t take a picture of the brute. But I guess like so many people who see Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster or an Amish person, I was just too paralyzed by fear at the time to do anything other than stare.
                These are the risks you take when you sit outside during your lunch break. Those of us who prefer to eat outdoors, we’ve signed off it. Not only that, but we embrace it, and thrive on the fact that at any given second a winged green nightmare that had somehow survived since the Jurassic era could make a midafternoon snack out of us. This is the life we’ve chosen.    

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