A slightly different version of piece originally appeared in issue #52 of our Gravy quarterly. (The issue’s theme is Where We Eat.)
From time to time I see references on social media to the sad desk lunch, or specifically the sad desk salad. Many office workers, it seems, equate lunch at work with abject disappointment. I’ve experienced this phenomenon myself. At a certain point, the offerings in our nearby student union lose their luster, as do they microwavable organic burritos that I once loved. Whether it’s a salad, a Tupperware of leftover penne, or a six-inch turkey on wheat with processed cheese triangles, a desk meal can be sad. But in my office, this is the exception. More often than not, sharing a snack or a meal reminds me why I love my job.
I am lucky to work with a group of people, mostly women, who truly love food and eating. This shouldn’t be surprising given our line of work. Our team is small, and we spend a lot of time together. We’re all busy, even a little frenzied, much of the time. But we pause to eat together with a frequency that makes me proud. Donuts for breakfast. Midsummer tomato sandwiches for lunch. Pie for—well, pie is for any time of the day, as far as we’re concerned. Sometimes our food falls under the general umbrella of healthy. Other times, not so much. Often, the food we share in our office is homemade. But we’ve also been known to order pizza.
When I moved from Chapel Hill to Oxford to join the SFA, my colleague Julie Pickett greeted me with a Kroger sheet cake on my first day. Written in icing was the slogan, “SFA ♥s SCA.” I had come to the right place. That cake (and something is probably wrong with you if you don’t get a little giddy at the thought of grocery-store sheet cake) was the first of many meals, desserts, and snacks I would share with my colleagues at our desks or gathered on the armchairs and couches in our open office. We gossip, we laugh, we dream up new ideas. And we pass the pimento cheese, the pork noodles, the lemon icebox pie. There’s nothing sad about that.