A shorter entry tonight, as I’m tired and wanting to curl up with my book — but I couldn’t let the day go without acknowledging the ways in which the Universe is enjoying toying with me around this week.
First, I got up today and tossed my breakfast and lunch into my backpack, put the ingredients for a lovely beef stroganoff in the crock pot and scooted off to work, patting myself on the back for being well-prepared for a no-spend day. However, as I opened up my little microwave meal at lunch, a hideous stench vaguely reminiscent of dog food came wafting from the container. The smell alone was enough to make me nauseous, nevermind actually contemplating eating it. Yet, I struggled with my conscience — the food wasn’t spoiled, it was just gross. And on my budget for the week, it was what I could afford. Who was I to turn my nose up at perfectly valid food-type-stuff? But gawd help me if I could put a forkful of that mess anywhere near my face. I was nibbling a plum and trying to ignore my grumbling stomach when it was announced that it was Free Lunch day at work. Saved!
The funny part is, I usually avoid Free Lunch like the plague. I work in a warehouse full of underpaid indpendent musicians and on Free Lunch Day our little lunch room feels like a cross between Lord of the Flies and the opening scene of 2001. The whole scene is vaguely traumatic, (albeit kindof amusing providing you’re able to dodge the plastic cutlery) and I usually skip it in favor of a less eventful sandwich from the deli down the street. But today, as I queued up for my turn in the culinary thunderdome, I began to grasp the underlying struggle that makes Free Lunch Day what it is: Desperation. Maybe not acute, and most likely not even conscious, but that’s what it is. It’s hungry people with a chance to save a few bucks by stocking up on free food from work, and the extra slices of greasy pizza that are hoarded onto plates and slipped under desks, the grabby hands and the jabby elbows — that’s what it’s about; not having another option. Suddenly, instead of feeling frustrated at the behavior of my greedy co-workers, I felt pissed at the inequity of pay at my workplace that set folks up to have to function in survival mode. I slapped a third slice of pizza onto my plate in solidarity and skulked back to my desk.
In trial two of the day, the Universe saw fit to scare the bejeezus out of me by making my car refuse to turn over as I was leaving work. Click, Click – nothing. Click, Click – NOTHING. *panic* No money for the bus. Can’t call a cab. Can’t take my car in to the shop. Suddenly putting off that oil change seemed like the dumbest crap EVER. C’mon, baby. Not this week. Click, Click — and the engine roared to life. Oh thank gawd. Very funny, Universe. Now you’re just messing with me.
Trial three came about 15 minutes later when I got home to find that the little red ‘reset’ button on my power outlet had been popped out, which meant that my responsibly prepared crockpot dinner had been sitting cold and uncooked in my kitchen for 8 hours. On top of my own disappointment, I’d offered to bring dinner with me to my friend’s house tonight and I was embarrassed to have to text my apologies on such late notice and ask if we could fend for ourselves. My friend was gracious, thankfully. And I was starving, but with every other main course in the house unthawed and no time before our plans to throw together something from scratch, I was SOL on the healthy dinner front. As I munched my deeply unsatisfying cold sandwich, I had to laugh. I wanted a challenge. Careful what you ask for!