this morning, my company treated its employees to a catered breakfast in honor of all the hard work we did last week. i queued up with other coworkers and patiently waited my turn to grab some eggs and bacon and fruit. i found myself across the buffet table from a temp who has been with the company for three or four months. the group around me was conversing about vegetarian preferences, the temp leading the banter.
"well what to do allow yourself to eat? all i see is carnivorous fare here," one of my coworkers said to the temp.
"well, i'll eat eggs, but definitely NO dairy... i'll eat fish and blah blah blah blah..." and she went on ad nauseum about her self imposed diet restrictions. when the temp got to the eggs, she took an abnormally small scoop and made some irritating remark about being starving.
"you know, i think scrambled eggs have milk in them," the guy next to her said. she paused, then very unceremoniously tilted her plate towards the egg pan and shook the offending fare back into the public domain. i think she started whimpering about never having anything to eat at "these" types of offerings...
it was at that point that i grabbed my juice and scurried away, trying to get as far away as possible from her incessant whining about food. frankly, although i found the whole exchange to be like nails on a chalkboard (seriously... HOW MANY TIMES DO WE NEED TO HEAR THE WOES OF THE VEGETARIAN?? KEEP IT TO YOURSELF, YOU FOOD MILITANTS!! yeah, yeah, yeah... you're so much better than the rest of us meat eaters... but you don't hear the rest of us preaching about how our lactose intolerance or our gluten issues or our plain old dieting problems should be cause for you to take alert, too!!) i digress... the thing i found interesting is that this was not the first time that i happened to be graced with the presence of this babbling veggie crusader.
i came across her a few weeks prior at an all-staff meeting. she was at the catering table, decrying the baseness of the pastries and muffins for their general unhealthiness and sugar content to anyone in line who would listen. (as a little bit of background, this gal is relatively young - maybe mid to late 20's, very thin, and very much a stereotypical l.a. hipster. in an office that demands business formal, she comes to work looking like she's wearing the same duds she went out in last night... lindsay-lohan-style leggings under an off the shoulder, ratty t-shirt and cowboy boots. god love l.a.) this girl already sticks out like a sore thumb in the office. what's worse is that she offends everyone around her with her holier-than-thou loud judgement of food at the catered meals.
this really bothered me at first. i chalked it up to her just being a loud, bitchy, attention-needing, angstful youth who was unaccustomed to a professional office environment. but after listening to her blather on about her herbivorous tendencies this morning, i realized that ohmygod, she's probably just as freaky about food as me! both times i've run into her, she's been milling around catered tables full of "inadequate fare". i imagine that a person with a normal relationship with food (whatever that is) would peek at the offerings, know instantly if there is anything appropriate for their diet and simply walk away if they don't see something that fits the bill... not get in line and very loudly bitch about the free food. that the temp falls in with the rest of the line and starts calling attention to her own eating habits screams "i have a problem with food. and if i talk loud enough and with enough judgement about what you're about to eat, you won't notice my issue with food."
yes. i know this one well... i know it well because i have been in that same boat... it was high school and college when i was so painfully aware of being seen having anything to do with food in public... i thought that all eyes were on me and the food i was about to eat. (which is really a very narcissistic thing if you think of it.) how painfully wrapped up with my own fragile self esteem and poor body image did i have to be to think that everyone would be waiting, watching to see what i ate, how i ate it, the technique i used to eat? seriously. thank you, therapy, for helping me pull my head out of my ass on that one. (i'm quite sure that my head is still very much securely lodged up my rear when it comes to a great many other things, but i don't fear eating in public anymore.)
i wish i could say that my negative feelings towards the trash talking temp have dissipated now that i've committed my thoughts to paper (or rather, the digital ether), but i'm not that noble. what i can say is that i do have a little more compassion for her now. it's gotta be tough to be young and impressionable in this whack-a-doodle town - where drug problems are completely acceptable and eating at all, especially in public, is frowned upon... i'm grateful that the suffocating pressure to be thin out here has not consumed my very being... ok, maybe just a little.
or i could be completely wrong about the temp... perhaps i am totally off base and she has a perfectly healthy relationship with food... in that case, her irritation factor stems from her constant and insipid whining about food... even better!