Well, actually, it happened IN the cafeteria. In the lunch line. In front of many, many witnesses. Public humiliation – these are the moments that make life worthwhile. Except not so much.
Let me set the scene.
I work in a 15 story building that is part of a sprawling complex of connected office buildings. On the first floor, buried in the center of the maze that is the entire complex, is a cafeteria. Except it’s not just any old cafeteria. It’s more like the biggest mall food court you could possibly imagine. There’s a grill station, an Italian station (including little pizza boxes for your own personal pizza), a Chinese station, a HUGE salad bar, a made-to-order sandwich station, a giant bar of breads and desserts, a huge soup selection, several frozen yogurt machines and various and sundry other little stands and shelves of fruit, chips, jello, cheeses, hard-boiled eggs and well, just about every food you could possibly imagine.
Then there’s my favorite – the toss-to-order salad station. They have a Chinese Chicken Salad with sesame dressing that is awesome. Normally, I go over there, pick up a CC Salad package, hand it to Francisco (the designated tosser of salad) and he tosses it all up for me with the dressing and other accoutrements. The only downside to this is (as I learned on a previous occasion) that if you go get your salad tossed, but then don’t get to eat it right away because you return to your desk to maybe find out that there was a meeting you completely forgot about which proceeded to suck up 2 hours of your time and when you finally escaped and went to eat your lovely salad, you found that it had become a wilted pile of mush with melted, no-longer-crisp wonton chips on top. And since, of course, the wonton chips are the best part of the salad, the whole thing was ruined.
So, lesson learned. Do not put the dressing on the salad unless you can eat it right away. Oh, and also, maybe remember to calendar your meetings in Outlook with reminders so you don’t space out and forget about them.
This brings me to the day in question during which I had a busy morning that ran into the lunch hour so when I finally got a break I realized I only had 15 minutes to run get my lunch before heading into a 12:30 meeting.
Which leads one to ask WHY do people schedule meetings at lunch time? Don’t they know I get cranky when my blood sugar is in the basement?
But I digress (as usual).
Having learned my lesson about the wilted salad, I formulated a cunning plan to avoid the soggy wonton chip issue. I would pick up the salad package and then ask Francisco to give me a couple of the little “to go” containers of dressing. I’d go to the meeting and then toss the salad myself at my desk afterwards. I love a perfect plan. It’s when the Universe doesn’t cooperate that I run into trouble.
All went as planned until I was in the cashier line. I successfully maneuvered through the payment process when I realized they had “to go” plastic bags at the end of the line. “Ah ha!” I thought. “I shall ease the burden of carrying the salad and dressing containers all the way back up to the fifth floor by making use of these thoughtfully-provided carrying devices.” I was reaching to put my lunch in the bag when disaster struck!
One of the containers of dressing rolled off of its (admittedly precarious) perch on top of the salad container and fell in what seemed like slow motion to the floor. Whereupon it (of course) burst open and spilled sesame dressing all over the floor, my new 9 West black stiletto pumps and my foot. Had my hands been free, I might’ve tried to catch the stupid thing, but I had a bag in one hand and a salad container and another container of dressing in the other hand so I was forced to watch helplessly as the event unfolded. I even knew before the container hit the ground that the damn lid was going to come off.
What I did not anticipate (having never felt it before) was the awful sensation of cold, oily dressing dripping down inside my shoe.
Oh, and did I mention this was the height of the lunch rush so there were like 20 people in line behind me and probably 200 or more seated in the cafeteria as a whole and if any of them managed to miss the initial “splat!” they certainly didn’t miss the cafeteria staff yelling at the top of their lungs “Spill! Spill! Hurry and get towels and a mop because this stupid gringo girl just spilled sesame dressing all over the floor and down her shoe!” At least, that’s what I assume they were screaming. It was in Spanish. I’m sure at least the “stupid gringo” part is correct.
Meanwhile, I’m still standing there, frozen, with my salad in one hand and bag in the other and thinking “Oh God, there is dressing in my SHOE!” Of course, they brought enough towels to clean up the floor, but not enough for me to clean up my foot or my shoe. Plus, there are still 20 some people in line behind me who, now that they have recovered from laughing their asses off, are starting to get pissed because I’m in the way of the line moving forward and really, how could I stand there and take my shoe off and try to clean off my bare foot and continue blocking the line and, well, this is California and we shoot people for holding up traffic.
So I know I have to get out of there.
And there is no bathroom on the first floor.
And it’s LITERALLY a quarter-mile trek back to the elevators to get back to my office where there IS a bathroom.
Yes, I walked a quarter-mile in salad-dressing-filled stilettos back to the damn elevator while carrying my salad (that I so didn’t want to eat any more) and feeling my left toes go “squish” with every step.
I ride the elevator back up to my office and go to my desk to put my food down. Because even though I’m probably not going to eat it now, I am sooo not taking food into the bathroom. Because, you know, that’s just gross.
Then I finally make it to the bathroom. Take off my shoe and wash my foot off (all the while PRAYING that none of my co-workers are going to come in and ask me why the hell I’ve got my foot propped on the edge of the sink. Next step is to try to get the dressing out of my shoe with damp paper towels while at the same time not ruining the leather. Assuming, of course, that the salad dressing didn’t already take care of the whole ruination thing. That’s when I realize there’s dressing all over the bottom 3” of my new black trousers. Swell.
Now, I’m late for my meeting so I have to put my still-slightly-damp shoe back on my not-quite-dry-yet foot and race to the conference room where I spend the next hour hoping that no one else notices that I reek of sesame dressing.
I am nothing if not the epitome of grace and style.