The Delights of Eating on the Job

And if you’re feeling extra bold, you can try to eat the food.

The Delights of Eating on the Job
Photo by gemma / Unsplash

by Some Produce Worker Somewhere

When your job isn’t exactly bad,
but is exactly boring,
you find color where you can.
Every smell has its own character:
For example, an onion
is like the gingerbread house
in Hansel and Gretel. At a distance,
it’s warm and homey in your nostrils.
Up close,
it burns.
Even some product code numbers seem whimsical.
4353 is a good number. I can chant it to myself
all day long. Like a pop song stuck in my head:
4353, 4353, 4353!

And if you’re feeling extra bold,
you can try to eat the food.

I have one rule in this quest of mine:
Don’t eat anything
that the store can sell.
The “edible, but not sellable” category is expansive,
and delicious.
I eat the ugly strawberries,
which are just as sweet as the pretty ones.
I eat the grapes I cut the wrong way,
I eat the cantaloupe that looks just a little dark,
I drink the juice in the bottom of the empty honeydew bucket.

Oooooooh, that last one! The first time I tried a sip of that,
I said a whispery “holy shit” and tilted my head back.
Soon, my face was sticky with sweet, sweet nectar.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I’d never do that.”
Have you ever sorted and washed bag
after bag
after bag
of SHINING black cherries, without eating a single one?
Not even one of the ones with one tiny little bad spot,
which you could easily eat around.
Well, I have, because the manager was standing beside me
the whole time.
Throwing away a mostly edible black cherry is an act for monastics

(which is really just a mispronunciation of “masochists”).

Yesterday, I cut into a watermelon that had yellow-white flesh
with pink tendrils reaching out from the bloody heart
of each slice.
My manager was standing nearby.
I decided to take a risk: I took my gloves off,
cut a piece,
and ate it,
right in front of him.
He didn’t blink, so I ate some more. It was sweet and juicy.
It tasted like bright, ripe summer.

For the rest of my shift, I felt like a character in a movie musical.
I took my break a little early so I could send my partner
an ecstatic text about watermelon.

Some Produce Worker Somewhere doesn't love the idea of getting fired. They've published some other work in some other places at some point.