Monday, November 9, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure: Lunchtime Microwave Edition
I’ve spent a lot of time, some would say too much time, writing out the things people do at work that bug me (For proof, please see here, here, here and here). More than a few of these involve the bathroom. Actually, a good chunk of my problems with society in general stem from others’ inability to follow a few, basic and simple Water Closet Protocols as I call them.
Recently, I’ve discovered a new thing that happens at work to complain about. Good news, it has nothing to do with the bathroom! Nope, if the story of a meal ends in the bathroom, then this issue concerns the place where that story begins: the kitchen.
                Lunch. For most of us, it’s the midpoint of the workday. A time when you can either look back and say: “I’ve done some good things here today” or “It’s what time? Sweet Jesus. Well, I’ve still got all afternoon to finish that up. Should be fine.”
                I’m a creature of habit and so most days at work my lunch looks a little something like this: container of plain Greek yogurt with a few assorted berries sprinkled in, an apple and either leftovers or a container of plain chicken and veggies. It’s a boring lunch for a boring gentleman. Just like our forefathers intended when they built this great land of ours.
                That last element of the lunch, the container of either leftovers or chicken, that’s where the trouble resides. See, 19 out of every 20 lunches I eat require whatever is in here to be microwaved for somewhere between a minute and a minute and a half if I’m feeling froggy. It’s not a big deal. The kitchen is directly next to my cube so the walk is short. Plus, the fact that I can see the kitchen allows me to time it to minimize awkward social interaction should I so choose.
                However, twice in the last, let’s say two weeks, the following has occurred. I’ve been hard at work, noticed the time and the rumbling in my tummy and, after a quick glance over at the empty kitchen, have decided: “OK, let’s do this.” I grab my lunch from my lunchbox scurry over to the kitchen, go to place it in the idle microwave and BAM! There’s someone else’s already-nuked lunch sitting in there.

                As there is only one microwave in our kitchen, this leaves me with two distinct choices. A lunchtime Choose Your Own Adventure novel, if you will. Do I: A) Wait it out for the food’s owner to return and claim it? There’s no telling how long that could take. It could be seconds. Minutes. Hours even. The person could have been summoned to a massive meeting at the last second, forced to leave his or her meal behind. Do I simply wait by the microwave, like Fry’s dog, hoping that one day this person will return? Or: B) Do I assertively remove the food from the microwave, place it gently on top of said microwave and carry on with my business? There’s always the chance the person catches me in the act and gets all huffy about me touching their (in-a-container) food or think I’m going to steal it, etc. There’s also the chance they come back in seconds, making me look like an over-reactive weirdo.
                It’s the clearest example ever of a no-win situation.
                The first time this occurred, I went straight to option B. I moved the food and took over the microwave. The person appeared a few moments later, was very apologetic and that was that. The second time, I elected to wait. It was a flimsy TV dinner container and not a solid Tupperware so I felt wrong touching it. Again, the person returned within minutes with many apologies.
                So, so far so good with this whole thing. But why is this becoming a trend? The whole point of a microwave is to cook things quickly. If you don’t have enough time to wait in the same room with it for a minute or two, then you need to change up your lunch options. PB & J sandwiches are great. They require no microwave and really only a minimum of care or prep work. If you’re so time-starved, go that route and leave the microwave to those of us with a little more flexibility in our schedules. Lunchables are another option. Again, no microwave needed. Sure, you could microwave the pizza or the hamburgers, but you don’t need to. Thus is the beauty and also the mind-numbing, stomach-churning horror of the Lunchable.
                I’ve gotten lucky so far, however, I fear that one day this issue will be the end of me. I fear it and I accept it. Should this be the case, friends, I will leave you with this request. A request which is both mildly-honest and a nod to a popular series of TV commercials for a microwavable pizza brand. On my Tombstone, please put: Husband. Cat Father. Passionate Fighter of Low-Level Inconveniences. If that’s too many letters, just go with the last one. The others will be implied.


  1. Slowly but surely, you and me will return Tombstone pizza to relevancy.