Every so often Elsbeth dumps an assignment on me, her Minister of Tile, that I should not have to do but our ranks are so thin, I’m the utility ballplayer in these situations. Before my superior dashes off for an appointment, I rouse myself from my slack jawed drooling stupor and assure her that I will handle this latest matter with my usual quick-witted aplomb. As I am waiting for a vendor to call with a price quote, I notice that it is eleven o’clock and I am craving a snack, in particular the fresh bag of raisin nut mix I purchased at my market the night before. This is the type of snack Milton refers to with disdain, “How can you possibly eat that flavorless bird seed? I’d sooner starve.”
I like this mix because it seems relatively healthy. It does not have any added salt, sugars or preservatives and I delude myself into thinking that it’s low in fat, but I will agree with Milton, it is not bursting with flavor. Since I am not a nutritionist, it’s probably also flab inducing and for all I know the ingredients are processed in a way so toxic, the FDA is debating whether or not to pronounce it radioactive. Yet, I remain convinced that it’s better for me than a fistful of Milk Duds and a cigarette. A small handful or two can easily satiate me until lunchtime. A bag of it lasts a month or longer. The only flaw in this seemingly perfect foodstuff comes to mind as I am waiting for that call with the price quote. I imagine the following scenario:
I have just popped a prominent handful of raisin nut mix into my mouth. My phone then rings. Possibly, this is the call that I’m expecting! With my mouth full, I answer, but just as I announce my name, I inhale a nut with the velocity of an Electrolux and I am instantly coughing voluminously. The caller continually asks, “Hello? … Hello?” Every time I attempt to speak, I cough more. Maybe even gag a little.
Chaos breaks out in the office. Sitting behind me, Ling is concerned. She asks, “Are you okay?” Then, Elaine exits her sanctuary and queries in her mellifluous British accent, “Are you dying over there? Does one of us need to call an ambulance? Blimey!” The Quiet Man in the back of the room is compelled to speak for the first time since last Thursday, “Maybe you should drink some water.” Greg, my sidekick, chimes in, “Is something stuck in your throat?” Upon hearing that suggestion, I Heimlich maneuver myself with a hard thump under the breastbone and projectile hack the offending peanut over the copy machine into the center of his forehead. I declare, “There’s your answer, buddy.” Ling yelps, “Ow,” for him. I turn my attention to my caller, but they have hung up.
Since I need this quote, I hold off eating any raisin nut mix. An hour passes, and then another. I am annoyed and it’s lunchtime. I phone the vendor, but I’m told he’s fielding another call so I leave a message on his voicemail. Then, I scarf one of my legendary (see LA 5) crappy sandwiches, and spend most of the afternoon in a tile meeting with Elsbeth absorbing the difference between dust pressing and dry pressing tile without conveying that I am seeing my entire life pass before my eyes in Technicolor. Disturbingly, the last image I see is that unopened bag of raisin nut mix sitting in my desk.
When I return to my office, I still do not have a voicemail message from this vendor with the necessary price quote. I call him a third time. He apologizes for not returning my call. He assumed we might have closed early and I would have already left for the day. I don my Big Ben impersonation and bleat, “It’s 4:30.”
As I suspected he did not work on the quote.
Supposedly, he’ll email it to me tomorrow. I have denied myself raisin nut mix for five and half hours for naught. I am finally free to shove the entire bag of it into my mouth, but as the day draws to a close, I lose my appetite for raisin nut mix. I am now craving something in the juniper berry family instead.