I once thought an office manager was just a glorified secretary who occasionally bought staples. That is until I got a real-life, big-boy job. Office managers have fanuted the system for me. I’ve had good office managers. They’ve procured me a new laptop battery when my manager said “no”—not to mention a monitor stand, rechargeable batteries, those .7mm Pilot G2 pens in green I love so much, and countless other accessories to aid in my day-to-day loafing.
With all that praise bestowed, every office manager at every job in the United States of America still has one area of weakness: the catered lunch. Office managers are the most powerful people at your job because they control the food, yet across the board they use their power only for evil.
Catered breakfasts are not a hot-button issue. While it’s not the most exciting option, a platter of free bagels will never make you lash out irrationally. The most common reaction is a simple, “Hmm. Bagels. Cool.” Catered breakfasts are like eating at Subway—never what you actually want, but passable. Anything beyond bagels, like Chick-Fil-A or Bojangles biscuits, should be considered a gift from God.
Office managers are the most powerful people at your job because they control the food.
Lunch, however, is the most important part of your day as a worker bee. That hour is yours (sorry to all those out there with college degrees who only have 30 minutes for lunch… you took a wrong turn somewhere). You can take a nap under your desk, drink a tallboy in an underground parking garage, or catch up on all the Instagram sideboob you missed that morning. There are no limits to what you can do during that sacred 60 minutes. Lunch is a respite.
What a catered lunch does is impose restrictions on that free time. Since it usually accompanies a client visit or a company-wide meeting, you are expected to eat the food with everyone in the conference room lest you paint yourself as the unappreciative leper. No problem, right? I mean, it is free food, after all.
Unfortunately, all free food is not created equal. The de facto catered lunch is a spread of underwhelming pre-made deli wraps and sandwiches. The entrée will always have one ingredient on it that ruins the entire item, thus ruining your entire lunch, thus ruining your entire day, thus ruining your entire life.
I look like a fool—a 27-year-old man forced to wipe mayonnaise off a slice of bread in front of grown adults.
“Oh. What do we have here? Turkey? Nice. Swiss? Dope. I can pick this lettuce off; no big deal. Mayonnaise?!?! YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.” I look like a fool—a 27-year-old man forced to wipe mayonnaise off a slice of bread in front of grown adults.
There is a special place in hell’s kitchen for caterers who include mayonnaise on their catered wraps. If it’s not mayonnaise, it’ll be a too-fancy-for-its-own-good spread like sea-urchin paste, or whole-grain mustard whose grains are actually the scraped-off taste buds of a cow tongue. Why would you ruin a perfectly subpar sandwich with exotic spreads? This isn’t high art. It’s a $6 boxed lunch.
Other options like tacos already have shredded lettuce and (terrible) salsa on them. Burritos? Get Chipotle’s cilantro-lime rice all the way out of here. If you like cilantro, you are the police.
Catered lunches will always have a salad option. But what about those people who like to put actual food in their bellies? They are ignored. Your office manager is basically saying “EAT SALAD OR DIE,” which is also a good campaign slogan for Mrs. Obama when she runs for president in two years.
I’m left eating baguettes and soup like a 19th-century Victorian orphan. Maybe I’m lucky and snagged a bag of regular chips—but what kind of lunch is that? How am I supposed to hit sales goals and be responsive to client needs while bloated on grains? My morale is depleted, and I want to quit. That email you think I’m typing? That’s my resignation letter.
It’s not so much about being a picky eater as it is wanting my existence validated. If I’m forced into a mandatory meeting that is impinging on my personal freedom bestowed to me by Labor Law Section 162, the least my company can do is respect me enough to give me the option of getting something I want. After all, this is America—George Washington didn’t suffer through life with wooden teeth only to have me not noshing on some tasty grub.
So please, office managers around the world, I implore you to step your game up. Put the pressure on the boss man to splurge for the create-your-own taco bar option. Have management buy a grill for cookouts. Create a Google Doc to track everyone’s a la carte orders easily. No more shitty catering in 2014. It’s time to think outside the boxed lunch.
Justin Roberson is @BauceSauce on the Internet. You can find him there most of the time, doing rap squats in the suburbs and organizing mass funerals for his h8rz.
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