The View from the West Hill: When Do We Eat?
|"What kind of salads do you
have?" This is not a totally stupid question,
because A) It says SALADS, PIZZA, CALZONE in neon letters
in the front window, and B) I've never been here before.
"Lettuce," he deadpans.
"No, I'm kidding. Here's the menu."
"So you're a wise-ass, then?" He has this coming, and frankly, there's nothing more annoying than someone who acts just like me.
"Better a wise-ass than a dumbass, right?"
Yes, but how is it that he cornered the market on both?
I'm still getting my bearings at the new office. And of course that means figuring out where to go for lunch. At the old job, the choices were limited to McDonald's, Mr. Hero, the pub across the street and two Chinese carry-outs. And since I lived close by, there was also the option of sneaking home and eating cottage cheese out, of the container with a celery stalk. (You make do; don't act like you don't!)
But here -- here, I feel like I'm Oliver Twist singing about food, glorious food! It's not just the proximity, but also the variety. No longer do I have to hope that someone is driving somewhere beyond the pale of vegetable lo mein and cheeseburgers. I don't have to wonder if there's a whole bowlful of Cheerios left in that box on top of the fridge. No more counting out quarters into a coworker's palm, asking, "That's enough, right?" Don't get me wrong, I love the West Hill, but here we have choices.
When a new person starts, all the office staff goes out to lunch. So on my second day, it was Max & Erma's and the boss picked up the check. There are all the usual chain restaurants right nearby, including a Panera that's hidden at the end of a Plaza. At the supermarket close to the office, I'm guessing that Monday's "Chili w/ Beans" and Tuesday's "Ranch Chili" and Wednesday's "Beef Chili" are the same thing. Remind me only to get soup early in the week, because by Friday the "Chili con Carne" probably doesn't meet health department standards. The macaroni and cheese was passable, but a small portion. That's ok, the out-of-date Lenten Specials will make way for picnic fare soon enough.
Tucked in the corner of a plaza, there's a deli. It's worth it to fight the line at noon for the hot Romanian pastrami on rye, pickles on the side. You can't do that everyday, that stuff will kill you, but once in a while, you have to cast caution to the wind. In the same plaza, you can get large portions of really bad Chinese. The menu is only seven items long, I kid you not. You're happy to throw the leftovers away, while you wonder if they were really someone else's leftovers anyway. Two doors down there's the smallest Subway I've ever seen, and a Pizza Hut with a salad bar across the street.
I've said it more than once, I love to eat kosher, so so my greatest find was the bagel shop. I mentioned this to my new boss, and it led to a discussion of the differences between and the relative merits of Jewish corned beef (his people) and the Irish version (my people), and the strange German, Irish, Jewish conglomeration that is the Reuben sandwich (Who came up with that? Who was that man, I want to shake his hand.)
"Of all the things that your people have done, "I tell him, "the matzoh ball is clearly the pinnacle of your contributions to society."
Two doors down, there's a Chinese buffet with take-out. The owner rang up my order, and gave me a spoon and chopsticks, because they were out of forks. I told him I'd use my hands if I had to. He laughed, and said he once ate a whole take out container with his hands, "in the car... driving to Creverand."
Back at the office, I open my salad and find that the wise-ass wasn't really joking about the lettuce. The extras took up more space in the bag than the salad: individual packages of Wheatsworth crackers, Ritz, saltines, and club crackers, two packets of dressing, salt and pepper, a napkin, a fork and knife. Two tomato wedges and four paper-thin discs of cucumber adorn the top of the salad. That's ok, tomorrow's another day and I hear there's a new Mexican place on the other side of the highway.
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