Why I Miss Techies: snarfing down junk food at work
I gave blood the other day, and when I was hanging around after the fact restoring my fluids and eating Oreos, I started thinking about the extraordinary ability of techies to hoover up whatever junk food is laying about.
And, in case you're wondering, there's actually a connection between giving blood and techie food consumption - at least in my experience (and mind).
Many years ago, I was the day's last donor at a Bloodmobile that had been parked in front of the building I worked at. At that time, the Boston Red Cross' usual snack food was Cheezits crackers and Hydrox cookies (poor man's Oreo), neither a big favorite of mine but a tolerable reward for giving blood.
On this day, however there were neither Cheezits nor Hydroxes in sight. It was December 23rd, and I supposed that the Red Cross believed they were being of good cheer when they laid out Christmas cookies. And I wouldn't have minded if they'd been my mother's idea of Christmas cookies: home-made Frosty Fruit Bars, Nutmeg Logs, or Christmas Tree cookies. No, these were bad Christmas cookies. Really bad Christmas cookies. So bad they made me hunger for a Hydrox cookie, which I normally would have scorned.
Ignoring the plastic tray upon plastic tray, with their untouched rows red and green sprinkled sugar cookies, I prepared to leave. In my weakened state, I pondered whether I'd be able to make it to the candy machine for a restorative bad of M&M's before passing out.
As I mustered my strength to leave, one of the phlebotomists on duty mentioned the law that stated that everything that wasn't consumed in the Bloodmobile during the day had to be tossed out. I don't imagine this would have applied to wrapped packages of Hydrox cookies or Cheezits, but it apparently covered open trays of red and green sprinkled, uniquely uninspired and insipid sugar cookies.
"Thrown out?" I asked.
As any Baby Boomer raised by Depression era parents well knows, you don't just throw out perfectly good food, however bland and tasteless.
"Thrown out," the phlebotomist told me solemnly.
"I'll take them," I said.
And so I became the lucky recipient of three large plastic trays full of lousy cookies.
It was about four o'clock when I set the cookies out in the company kitchen. Four o'clock on the day before the day before Christmas, when work was somewhat slowing down.
I didn't even have to spread the word.
Before the trays had settled, a horde of techies had descended on the kitchen, each grabbing handfuls of cookies.
I hadn't gauged just how rapidly (or was it rabidly) the techies would have gone through the booty, but I had, of course, been extremely confident that the cookies would all be consumed. I had, after all, been working with this crew for a couple of years, and had yet to see any food - no matter how heinous - go to waste.
For one Friday Party - a weekly company get together where wine and beer were modestly partaken of, but where junk food was inhaled in vast quantity - my friend Michele and I had done a little experiment to see if there was anything our guys wouldn't eat. We bought a bag of flavored potato chips - ketchup flavored? shrimp? I can't recall - and put it out to see what happened. When we'd opened the bag, we'd both been thrown back by the smell. I nibbled the corner of one and immediately spit it out. Yuck! Yucky beyond belief!
The chips actually didn't get eaten during the Party, but by the time I got into work mid-morning on Saturday, the techie contingent of the weekend warriors had manage to mau down those disgusting chips.
Not satisfied with one trial in our experiment, Michele and I also bought some mixed green jelly beans for a St. Patrick's themed Friday Party. Some of the flavors were okay, but some were straight out of Harry Potter. The flavors might just as well have been named vomit, entrail, and snot.
Again, the vile flavors were not the first to be consumed, but there was no jelly bean left behind.
So I was not surprised that the Red Cross Christmas cookies were consumed with zest.
Over my many years in tech, I was continually amazed at what the techies were willing and able to get down. No matter how stale, curled up, or taste-free, anything left out in the communal place would be eaten.
No surprise. These were guys (99.99%), mostly single, working late, oblivious, consumed by their coding. If there was something that they could eat that they didn't have to move very far to get, prepare, or think about, they'd go for it. The workplace was a natural extension of the college dorm. Fuel was fuel. Taste and nutrition were secondary.
Over the years, the Red Cross cookies have gotten better at the Red Cross. I haven't seen a Hydrox in ages. Now it's Oreos, Famous Amos, or Cameos.
As I ate my Oreos and rehydrated, I thought about all those techies I'd worked with and their wonderful capacity to snarf down lousy food.
One more thing that I miss about being full-time around techies.