Bachelor Lunch II - The Unrelenting Sorrow
The Unrelenting Sorrow (Part II)
I’m with my colleague Scoob, and we’re having lunch at Costco.
[For those unfamiliar with this culinary gem, most Costco warehouses
contain a lunch counter. A lunch bunker, actually. A fortification
attached to an interior wall. Here price-conscious shoppers are issued
hot dogs, polish sausage, pizza, and the sublime “Chicken Bake” for 30%
to 50% below non-warehouse prices.
And thirsty shoppers take note: The self-serve soda fountain is totally unsupervised. Regardless of corporate policy, this is an extremely liberal refill situation.]
Scoob and I sit on stain-resistant fiberglass benches swapping stories about fatty livers and spasmodic prostates.
We bond in the manner unique to middle-age white men: talking about the slow failure of our internal organs.
Scoob has ordered the Cesar salad. I’ve ordered a Cesar, plus a polish
sausage as appetizer. The salads dispense from the lunch-bunker in
cylindrical plastic boxes. Scoob notes that they formerly used square
boxes. Picking up on his comment, I make important points about which
shape would stack better vs. which could be made using the least amount
of plastic. I’m just getting to the part about “Pi-R-Squared,” when
Scoob (who has by now applied dressing to his salad) re-closes his box
and shakes it noisily. The vigor of his shaking clearly surpasses the
legitimate requirement for salad dressing redistribution. It is so
loud that any reasonable person would understand it as a signal that my
geometry lesson has grown tiresome.
We eat in silence.
Breaking this uncomfortable lull in the conversation, I remind Scoob
that I’m attending night school at State U. I tell him that we studied
Costco, and that Costco’s annual profit almost exactly equaled its
membership fees; that the whole warehouse operation runs at break-even
just to get people to pay their dues every year. He chews on, obviously
even less interested in the economics of discount retailing than in
At last it’s his turn to share. He says something about a comatose
relative, but I’m now fully engaged with my own salad. I retain little
of his story. Biting on a crouton, I study the gray stripes in Scoob’s
hair. They give a slight penguin-like look to his head. I’m suddenly
distracted- Wasn’t there a recent movie about the heart-warming family
life of penguins? Can’t we all just get along? Can’t we get along at
least as well as penguins? As I ponder this, Scoob finishes his story.
And we get down to the real reason we’re having lunch so far away from the office.
“What do you think is going to happen at work?” Scoob asks.
“Don’t know. Have you heard anything?”
“Nope. Guess we’ll just have to see.”
“Guess So.” I conclude.
And that’s it. Our best mutual career-counseling session to date. We
head out to the parking lot, and take Scoob’s midlife roadster back to
the office, to await our fate.