The bowl or the plate?

Sometimes I just kill myself.

Since the trusty Shadow has been out of commission all week, I’ve been walking to and from work. Ordinarily I come home for lunch and eat a turkey sandwich and a fist full of pretzels. Since it would take my entire lunch break and then some to walk home to eat, I’m in need of a new lunch plan.

I didn’t go to work on Monday. On Tuesday I forgot to eat lunch. I can’t remember what I did for lunch on Wednesday. Yesterday, David and I went to the local deli. Today I ate in the cafeteria.

In an effort to save a little money on my midday meal, I’ve adopted a hungry man’s economic lunch strategy.

Although I earned a C in my college economics class, I’m numerically inclined enough to know that it’s cheaper for me to ride my motorcycle to work, home for lunch, back to work, to the grocery store for a package of sliced Butterball smoked turkey breast and a loaf of bread and then home for the day than it is to eat in the cafeteria five days a week. I’d say I spend $15 a month on gas. It cost me three dollars and some odd cents to eat in the cafeteria this afternoon. Times that times five.

I had lunch in the Scott & White cafeteria a few times shortly after I started. I’d say it took me three good tries at Scott & White’s cafeteria to gain an appreciation for the rations that were once spooned by the bearded lady in high school. Good ol’ Mom and Dad’s hard earned tax dollars. Don’t get me wrong though, I love where I work… I love the people I work with… I work at the best place in the whole world…

As experience being my teacher, I’ve learned to take the path most traveled: the soup and salad bar.

There’s nothing fancy to the soup and salad bar – prepackaged iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots and red cabbage. Baby carrots, banana peppers, green and black olives, shredded cheddar, broccoli, cauliflower, croutons, bacon bits – all of your standard issue salad accessories are organized and available via those light brown, plastic institutional cylinders packed in ice.

Soups vary daily. Today they offered beef barley and Wisconsin cheddar. I opted for the latter.

For one’s salad containment needs, the Scott & White cafeteria offers a variety of bowl and plate sizes, all varying in price. One can choose from a small salad bowl [not to be confused with a 1.5 oz. shot glass], a medium salad bowl, a plate or a to-go box. I’m in the process of learning how to get the most bang for my buck out of the medium salad bowl. The medium salad bowl is crafted in off-white Styrofoam and is probably the same size as the bowls you use in your very own home.

I picked up my tray, medium salad bowl and soup cup at the west end of the salad bar. I surveyed the goods and began carefully constructing my hungry man’s salad mountain. I packed in enough iceberg lettuce so there would be no sneaky air pockets or crevices. I then piled on some more lettuce to construct a nice peak. This became a monstrous salad. I was stealing from the blind! As I moved on down the line, I carefully added baby carrots, olives, cauliflower, broccoli and croutons all along the barely visible rim of my bowl. All of my salad accessories were teetering between the bowl and a thud onto my tray. Luckily they all survived.

Now time for salad dressing. I chose ranch. The Italian was too vinegary last time I tried. I had no way to equally disperse my dressing, so I just globbed it on top of my roughage hill. I moved on down the line and gently ladled my soup smooth enough to where there were uniform yellow streaks of cheese soup running down the outside of my cup.

I stopped at the end of the salad bar line to attach my employee badge to my shirt’s lapel. Employees get a discount. Remember, I’m saving money here!

I paid my three dollars and some odd cents, picked up a fork, a few napkins and found a remote table at which to sit.

My current marital status aside, I’d say I’m a loner by nature. I don’t need to be in the company of others. This is especially true when I’m dining alone. Without fail, someone always manages to sit themselves in the table next to or across from me, facing me. I could be the only person in a restaurant, sitting there, minding my own business and eating my lunch and the next person who gets their food not only sits too close, but sits facing me! He could have chosen any other seat in the entire restaurant, but he decided to come and sit where he has to face me. That’s on my top three all time pet peeves list. Luckily that didn’t happen today.

I sat down at my own table and faced the window. I looked down at my tray and admired my masterpiece. Boy did I trick them! Not only did I get my employee discount, but I also packed this manly salad that would normally warrant a plate into a medium sized salad bowl! I easily shaved seventy five cents off my lunch tab!

I jabbed the teetering carrots, broccoli and cauliflower first. One by one, I dipped them into the layer of ranch dressing that was the top of my salad and ate them.

I decided it was time to distribute my ranch dressing throughout my salad. After careful contemplation, I settled on the folding technique. I carefully stuck my fork at an angle into the bottom center of my lunch. I gently lifted my fork and began my wrist turning motion. I gracefully flopped my salad out and onto my tray. Not to be defeated, I ate my salad off of my tray.

I should have chosen the plate.

Marlboro Man’s Heart

My friend Philip called me yesterday evening. He’s having girl problems.

Philip works offshore on an oil rig. Throughout the summer he was working in the north Atlantic off the coast of Nova Scotia. He was working three weeks on, three weeks off. Now he’s working off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico . I’m fairly certain that his current career choice has been a factor in his relationship.

His [ex?] girlfriend told him that she was thinking about moving out and living in a house with a friend. She and Philip moved to Austin together and shared a one bedroom apartment.

She moved out this last time that Philip was offshore.

She’s young – one year out of high school young. I think she needs to sow those wild oats.

Philip said he feels lost right now. I feel for him. He told me that he found out the hard way that he has no toiletries. I can relate. I think men take advantage of loofah scrubbers, vanilla-mint shampoo and rosemary-kiwi body soaps when they magically appear in the shower.

Philip was the kid who took a while to develop in the ways of the pubescent. I actually used to pick on him during our freshman year in high school. Since that time, he’s become one of my best friends. He’s drilled for water. He’s worked on an oil rig. He’s owned a Chevelle. He’s owned a Trans-Am. He drives a pickup. He rides a sport bike. He glued devil horns on his motorcycle helmet. He’s Australian. He can fix stuff. He has a rare, 1965 Marilyn Monroe pinup calendar. He has one of those cool knives that you can flip open with your thumb. He’s your Marlboro Man.

It’s just weird seeing him upset about a girl. I feel bad for him. It’s nice to know that he’s comfortable confiding in me. I wish I could do something for him other than just being sympathetic ear. I told him that this will all pass with time.

Siddhartha and Singles

Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking or what influenced my academic thoughts during my freshman year in college…


“A movie that comes to mind when I think of a quest or a journey is the movie Singles. An actual journey doesn’t take place, but an internal one does. The journey is within one’s mind or heart, trying to determine whether or not they should stay single or commit themselves to a relationship.

Siddhartha’s quest is to find his inner self and to seek the most knowledge he possibly can. The different stages of his quest are first to become a Samana and overcome his Self. Next, he went to seek love. He found the value of money and gambling and basically let go of all the things he had learned from Buddha and the Samanas. Then Siddhartha became a ferryman and lived and learned by the river.

Siddhartha learned that he actually is himself in the forest. He felt alone, as if there with no one else. He learned to love everything. In the city, he learned the value of money and love. The river symbolizes revolution, self actualization and knowledge.”