Each morning about fifteen minutes after arriving at work I will go downstairs for breakfast. I am not an adventurous person when it comes to my morning meal – it is the same every day. A mug of coffee, a slice of batch toast (with butter, not margarine) and a hardboiled egg. Monday to Friday sees little variation (although I have – on occasions of mild rebellion – been known to partake of a bowl of porridge). It’s not that I lack an adventurous spirit, it’s just that being a diabetic of the Type 1 kind, a food routine is important. Maintain those blood sugar levels.
Today I arrived at work at my usual time of 9.10. I logged on to my computer, opened my email, and deleted everything that was not directly addressed to me. So far, so usual.
I made my way downstairs. The canteen was eerily quiet. Unusual – it would normally be heaving at this time. Where is everyone? Is there some kind of company wide meeting the invitation to which I ‘accidentally’ deleted?
I spotted the solitary figure of a man sitting at a table, eating a bowl of porridge. All on his own. The new guy. He only started work on Monday.
I remembered back to eighteen months earlier when I rejuvenated my glorious Irish career in the industrial wastelands of county Dublin. It was winter. I knew nobody. I was living with a Swedish psychopath called Flatenemy – a character that could have been created by Stieg Larsson. I was being trained to do my job by two of the most unpleasant, passive aggressive bullies I have ever the misfortune of meeting – Potato-Face and Split-End. They used to give out about my work, look at each other with great amusement and go for food. Leaving me bewildered. These were my only immediate colleagues at the time. It was a hellish time, during which every day I would daydream about quitting.
When Potato Face left the company late last year, the collection for her goodbye gift raised 37 euros – which considering there is almost 200 people working here, is quite telling of the esteem with which she was held by her colleagues. I contributed the princely sum of one cent to her gift fund. I didn’t sign her card. I’m mature like that.
I made the executive decision that I was going to be welcoming to the new guy. Even though he is in a more senior position than mine, it’s not easy to be the new guy.
I took my boiled egg and toast to his table and sat down.
We had quite a pleasant chat. I discovered that he is originally from my part of the world (not Limerick, but close enough); is heterosexual (he mentioned his bird) and lives currently in a seaside village in county Dublin.
‘Oh that’s a nice place, I have been a few times.’
‘Yes it is lovely’ he replied. ‘It has some great eateries.’
The blood drained from my face. My heart sank to the pit of my stomach. I felt a wave of nausea overwhelm me.
Was this how I was to be repaid for my act of kindness? By having someone use the unloved, bastard, hipster lovechild alternative word for restaurant?
I decided that I was going to be the bigger person. He is the new guy. How is he to know that the word ‘eatery’ is an aural assault on my delicate ears? An unnecessary attack on my sense of decency and decorum.
Being the new guy, he receives a temporary pass.
For now. But if this continues, then I may have to have a word.