July 18, 2002
Snack Attack

miles to go: 1,050.52

It looks like a 7-11 exploded inside the Dirt Company lunchroom.

I'm standing in the doorway, surveying this morning's Costco delivery, and frankly I'm appalled. I haven't seen so many empty calories and non-recyclables since my little brother's tree fort.

"Who ordered all this stuff?" drools The Main Nerdy Geoscience Guy. We stand side by side in the doorway for one long moment, gaping in mingled wonder (*him*) and horror (*me*) at this overwhelming abundance of packaging and processing. He looks like a kid who has accidentally wandered into the Happy Meal Factory. Mainly *I* am wondering where the hell I'm going to put everything. The beverages alone take up one entire corner of the lunchroom: case after case of Coke and Diet Coke, stacked nearly to the ceiling. Snapple and Diet Snapple, in a variety of colors and flavors. Canned apple juice. Bottled cranberry juice. Instant cocoa. Instant iced tea. Instant flavored coffee. And then there are the snack items: Cup O'Soup. Cup O'Noodles. Handi-Snacks. Individually-wrapped pepperoni sticks. Cheese and peanut butter crackers. Microwave popcorn. Single-serving bags of Doritos, Fritos, Lays Potato Chips (BBQ and Regular), Cheetos. A couple of five-pound bags of generic pretzels. And lest anybody's sweet tooth go unrewarded, there are no fewer than five varieties of snacky/desserty/granola bar things: chewy granola bars studded with M&M's, chewy granola bars rolled in chocolate and peanut butter, chewy granola bars with strawberry creme cheese filling, chewy granola bars stuffed with chocolate chips and miniature marshmallows. Plus a case of Grandma's Cookies (assorted varieties), a ten gallon drum of red licorice and a jumbo bag of caramel nips, just for fun.

"I don't know," I shrug. "I guess JoAnne must have ordered it."

At first glance all of this convenience store excess might seem surprising. You'd think that someone who has managed to drop forty pounds in the past six months -- the way JoAnne has -- might be a bit more circumspect about the snacks she buys for the lunchroom. Clearly she's not buying them with her Faithful Assistant in mind. With the exception of the microwave popcorn -- and some sort of weird dried-fruit snacky thing, maybe -- I don't see anything here that a middle-aged woman with *Spandex issues* can safely nosh on, late in the afternoon. But that's the point. JoAnne isn't ordering this stuff for her Faithful Assistant ... nor, for that matter, is she ordering it for herself. We both bring our own personal nosh materials from home. The freezer is filled with her Weight Watchers entrees and her English Toffee Crunch bars; the lower lefthand produce drawer is filled with my fruit and yogurt and Zip-Loc bagsful of dry cereal. No, she's ordering this stuff MAINLY for the rest of office, three-quarters of whom 1.) are under age 30, 2.) aren't married, and/or 3.) spend more of their waking hours here at The Dirt Company than they do at home. They're like abandoned puppies: if we don't feed them ... who will? Plus they're all rail-thin and full of twitchy, nerdy energy. You burn off a lot of calories, hauling those boxes of dirt back and forth to the lab all day.

(The Main Nerdy Geoscience Guy digs happily through the box of Frito-Lay products, looking for his favorite. "Score!" he shouts in triumph, holding up a bag of KC Masterpiece BBQ Potato Chips. "Lunch is served!")

The good news is that there isn't anything here that actually appeals to me anyway. Potato chips are great with a Large #9 Pastrami from Togo's, but by themselves they leave me cold. I burned out on popcorn years ago. (Microwave popcorn used to be one of *my* personal Four Major Food Groups, along with cheap chablis, Salem Slim Lights and Imodium A-D.) Pepperoni was permanently ruined for me by a 1984 PBS documentary. And I've never really been a granola bar kind of girl, chocolatey coating or no chocolatey coating. Of course, if we were standing here looking at a crate of Hershey Bars, it might be a different story. I generally prefer my chocolate unfiltered, thankyouverymuch. But we're not. We're talking about granola bars. And even if I were to be suddenly overtaken by a wild uncontrollable Chocolate Jones -- like the one prompted by last month's hormonal meltdown, which found me stuffing Oreos into the waistband of my pants and sneaking them back to my desk -- I suspect I would be able to resist the subpar forms of chocolate represented here.

Nope. I think I'm going to be just fine with all of this.

After I've put all of the new *groceries* away -- it takes most of an hour, and I wind up stashing half of it in the supply closet after I run out of room in the kitchen -- I grab a bag of the weird dried-fruit snacky thing, plus a bottle of plain old Calistoga, and I return to the front desk.  (Surprise! The dried-fruit snacky thing isn't half bad. It feels like I'm chewing little raspberry-flavored sponges ... but by god they're tasty little raspberry-flavored sponges.)  I congratulate myself on my good sense, my willpower, my healthy eating habits, my vast reserves of internal fortitude. I am responsible for managing my own food intake, I remind myself. The burden of resisting temptation is mine: not the person buying snacks for the lunchroom. As long as I keep bringing my own good, healthy snack materials from home every day -- and as long as I avoid the lunchroom as much as humanly possible, for however long it takes the Main Nerdy Geoscience Guy and his cohorts to eat their way through the latest pile of junk food -- I'm going to be fine.

I've just choked down the very last of the little fruity sponges when JoAnne sidles up to the front desk and thanks me for putting away the groceries. "I forgot about these, though," she says offhandedly. "Can we keep them in your desk?"

And she drops a ten pound bag of Hershey's Miniatures into my bottom desk drawer.

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~ nil bastardum carborundum ~

these days, of course, the Four Major Food Groups
are fruit, water, SlimFast ...
... and Bed Picnic Bruschetta.