Little worlds

I love working in-house. You get all the perks of big businesses without the politics. I like to rush in, work my arse off, suck down whatever booze is on offer, hoover up any freebies (ranging from birthday cake to pens) and zoom off again in a flurry of good vibes.

And it’s always interesting to observe the little cultures that evolve in every company I visit. For a week I’ve been working at a large company in the city, which has given me a chance to eavesdrop on other people’s lives and generally rubberneck at the unsuspecting.

I can report that all is as it should be in the corporate world. It took me two hours to secure a visitor’s pass. There are pictures of Warnie everywhere, that no-one has defaced. The design department has the requisite beanbaggery and copies of Desktop. There are more men with crisp, inoffensively muted shirts, spiky hair and soul patches than you can poke a stick at. And conversations are conducted in a huddle with a kind of carrying whisper that announces to everyone that Someone is Being Spoken About.

I have, obviously, been getting a lot of enjoyment out of it.

They have a fantastic café downstairs with subsidised meals, and I’ve been going the whole hog. Anyone who’s ever been a student, a traveller or just low on funds understands the Depression-era duty to throw yourself at a cheap feed.

On the first day in the queue, waiting quietly for Roast of the Day (and slobbering discreetly), I heard a group of very skinny, very corporate, very blonde women talking behind me. They were weighing up each dish in terms of its fat and carb content, and what they were going to order. They said they were obsessive about the café, and hung out eagerly for the new menu each week. Each ordered the steamed veggies. I think bottled water was involved.

I got a plate piled high with roast veggies, a huge piece of chook and as much gravy as the plate could hold, and waddled over to a table to snort over Evelyn Waugh. Soft drink came for free in little cups, so I lined some up in front of me.

I looked around – was no-one else as excited as I about Roast of the Day? Some blokes had the chook with chips. Others had a Parma with chips, or a schnitzel sandwich with cheese. One (obviously prompted by his wife – I can think of no other reason) had removed the delicious roasted skin off the chicken and left it on the side. As the plates were fairly small, some fellows had maximised the opportunity (as they would say in the corporate world) and ordered their meal in a takeaway container to fill to the brim and eat on the spot.

However every woman in the place seemed to have ordered the veggies! Or a salad sanga! Or sushi rolls! One brought in a tuna tempter, I kid you not. One large woman was glumly perusing a tiny cup of yoghurt and fruit. And I do not place myself above hefty ladies when I say this – I’m well-covered myself – but is there any sadder sight than a big gal on a diet in a swarm of mosquitoes?

But further observation revealed that I was jumping to conclusions. There were other women stuffing their face – and they were all Asians. I had to laugh. All my Asian friends treat every meal as though it was their last (which is probably why we get along), and these chicks were tucking in with impressive gusto.

What is this little world I asked myself, scattering gravy.

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6 thoughts on “Little worlds

  1. Oooh! Freebies of cake and stationery! Heaven!!I’m kinda in between with the food thing. I feel crook if I eat too much gravy or the skin on a chook. I’d likely be at a chicken schnitzel though… or some sushi. And I’m not particularly successful at loading my plate up either. Even when I dined out yesterday my plate looked more full when I’d finished than before I’d begun! Can be embarrassing. I blame being an only child.

  2. Asian women – and by Asian I have to say I mean Chinese here from personal experience – absolutely do stuff their faces. There was even a joke in the office today where one ABC refused a chip on the grounds she was full and the local girls laughed and said so what eat it anyway! Yum cha with the colleagues involves me being the only one asking ‘Where’s the choi sum?’ while the others hoover up oily chickens feet and custard buns (together) after which thy dive into turnip cake which is I swear 80% oil. I reckon it’s the lack of sweets as children – the huge amounts of rice for breakfast that helps them eat like racehorses and stay looking like them too. Of course, now that Maccas is taking hold I’m beginning to see some very plump Chinese schoolgirls. At which I snigger, recalling every comment regarding clothes that won’t fit and how Western girls are so ‘big!’ (insert cutsey smile)But there’s nothing wrong with a roast. Good protein, heaps of veggies, a bit of fat to satisfy the tastebuds. ‘Course it’s boring food, Boo, even my mother’s!

  3. Today The Age ran photos of Richard Gere and Clint Eastwood to ridicule their tubby guts.That’s what sort of bloody world it is.Clint is 76 fer chrissakes, of course he’s allowed to soften.I love eating.

  4. It’s interesting, isn’t it? When I started at my new job I was most thrilled about the fact that there were FREE cream biscuits (arnotts, not home brand)in the kitchen. In the time since, our dear catering staff and I have become rather close. Last week one of them delivered a tray – a tray, I tell you – of cupcakes to my desk for morning tea.I love it.

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