28 April 2005

The Incident of the Cakes

You work in an office then you'll know about the cake tradition. If it's your birthday you buy cakes for everyone. That's everyone, including the greedy, the ignorant and the wasters. Today I watched that pitiful ceremony unfold.

Birthday boy returned from the cake shop laden with goodies. He placed bags on a central desk and carefully began to unpack them. As he arranged the square white boxes, eyes swivelled in sockets and heads nodded purposefully across desks. Helpfully he lifted the box lids and stood back to admire his work.

The first gluttons were out of their seats. Birthday boy was back at his post picking up a telephone and mumbling, 'Cakes guys' to his colleagues but scouts were already cruising the area, like sharks smelling one part blood per billion parts water. The first two lunged instinctively at their quarry, reaching, cramming, chewing. Other diners joined the throng, fist over flailing, grabbing fist. The desk was slick with cream smears and a box was tossed to the floor. The feeding frenzy reached fever pitch.

The larger beasts sank back from the feast now, gorged on chocolate and sponge and icing. Smaller, more timid ones crept up to select dainty fondant fancies and pecked nervously over the remaining crumbs.

The office was noisy with the hum of conversation mumbled through stuffed cheeks. Birthday boy ended his phone call and walked over to the cake table. "Is there one left for me?" He ventured.

It's a cruel world out there. Eat or be eaten.

21 comments:

Grace said...

You're right PV, it is a very strange ritual. Happens in our office too always the same ones shamelessly gorge themselves.

Perfect Virgo said...

Grace - I know this is not very pc but the bigger, the hungrier it seems. Anyone for seconds?!!

Jen said...

CAN'T. STOP. LAUGHING.

I really love your humor, Virg. Ohmygod this was great!!!! And it's so, so true.

Perfect Virgo said...

Jen - Oh its so so true! My office has dropped to about 35 now but when we had over 70 this spectacle could be witnessed twice a week. Always the same!

RuKsaK said...

I was quite moved by that. I guess because I saw myself in the birthday boy and the sharks. I feel real sorry for the guy.

ShadeMcVay said...

See, this is why on my birthday I bring in a giant tub of biscotti from Costco. 9 dollars and gone in about an hour. < / cheap >

4005 N 24th said...

This is hilarious. I have nearly fallen on the floor with laughter. I need to keep quieter for fear of being asked what is the matter. You have done it again, PV. Great verbal imagery.

When the trough is filled, the pigs come fast. Very very fast. Obviously the big ones have figured out the system best so they will always prevail. It is amazing how deft and agile those big ones are with food in the offing. Why, the skinny ones can be trampled upon in the rush. Oh yeah they do try to show a little politeness....excuse me they say with their eyeballs popping out like organ stops. What they really mean is get to fuck out of my way right now or I will gorge on you too. The old survival of the fittest instinctual response leaves the mannerly ones in the dust. Also, if you were to ask any of them whose birthday it is and what age he/she is the response accuracy would be abysmally low or none at all. Food, and especially junk food like cake, turns sane people into crazy and irrational deviants.

Excellent article PV. I cannot hold back my laughter.

Denis in Tacoma.....

Perfect Virgo said...

Ruk - When I finished writing I too felt sorry for him. I love pathos and this one seemed to widen the chasm between winners and losers. I bet you guessed, I am not a shark either. I root for the underdog.

Shade - hello there. You have applied some practical thinking to this issue. I have identified a number of approaches that various colleagues subscribe to but none has managed an hour!

9 dollars sounds attractive, 30 cakes here are about 40 dollars.

Denis - I love to hear laughter. Good for you! Every cake day I whisper to the girl who sits opposite me' "It's a jungle out ther!" We always chuckle, it's something of a ritual.

If you ask whose birthday it is you get a look of utter disdain. A glance that says, "Who the hell cares? It's food." When I thank an individual personally they always respond warmly. Nice that.

beth said...

Perfect! I experienced this only yesterday, but with a leaving party. What I noticed was those taking seconds without making sure everyone had had a first, and skulking off...

Perfect Virgo said...

CC - there are lots of observations one can make about this phenomenon. Yes I know about the seconds grabbers too! We had a leaving occasion today and those skulkers were out in force.

This was the overall manager of my office and she bought lots of expensive cream cakes. This got the hungry ones really worked up! It's quite obscene when you see how people behave when offered a gift of food!

doughgirl said...

Perfect,

Great article. I can picture it like it was yesterday, though it has been sometime since I worked in an office (Thank God).

Oh those piggy earth people, thank god it wasnt wine for crying out loud.

Of course this all upsets me only becasue I dont eat junk and suffered from an eating disorder from 16 to the present, only now I am a healthy weight. I have to watch my thoughts carefully cus this disease likes to catch me when I am unprepared. Like this morning when I got dressed and looked in the mirror, the mirror said to me, YOU ARE HUGE!!! I said to it, IT'S ON.

Ha Ha alcohol and drugs...you lose again:)

P.S. If they only knew how the other half lived...lol

Perfect Virgo said...

DG - those people have no conception of how hard life is for those of us who try to do it right. They couldn't come close.

Several of us here have great admiration for your fighting spirit and your disarming honesty.

Let me say that on Friday a leaver made 'bucks fizz' at 9:30am and half the office was laughing hysterically. I hardly have to tell you I found the whole atmosphere irritating so went out for a walk until the children had settled down.

recoveryroad said...

Yuss. It's another toe-curling office-based shame-filled ritual that has me fascinated and appalled in equal measures.

Each time I witness a display of this awfulness I secretly pray that one of the lardier gluttons will find a finger tip or half a maggot in their cake.

I've yet to witness such a find but I still cackle in anticipation.

:)

Perfect Virgo said...

Roots - think that might stop 'em in their tracks, nice one! The whole thing sickens me too, it demonstrates some pretty grim aspects of humanity.

finnegan said...

I find this pretty amusing as I've never had the privilege of holding an office job.

Americans must be holding these things impromptu at the drop of a hat.

What else could explain obesity that would shame a person living on Jupiter?

Perfect Virgo said...

Finnegan - it is a somewhat duboius privilege. After 29 years I am now heartily sick of it! I am committed to trying something completely different but still weighing options. Might still involve a PC though!

The office ritual is an import from over the pond, they say when USA sneezes UK catches a cold. Let me tell you we have some big, big eaters in our office.

yours truly said...

Again it's been proved: people are freaks!

Indeed.

Perfect Virgo said...

YT - yes, proof positive I think! I was suitably impressed by the stand alone use of 'Indeed.' (possibly my second favourite word)

4005 N 24th said...

Talking about Office rituals.....the "Meeting" is another form of adolescent freakishness. "Managers" (note the quotes....sarcasm is good) abuse it way too much to collect status for example. Really it is a way for some dough head to try to stay in the loop and assert authority. Was the Bitch a big one for the Meeting bit??

Perfect Virgo said...

Oh yes Denis, the full works, Powerpoint presentations on laptop and projector, flipcharts, breakout groups etc... Meetings about meetings. It was too much about self-promotion.

I like sarcasm, people often misunderstand me though!

GEL said...

That last sarcastic line hit was the icing on my day.