March 28, 2006

The Grilled Cheese Chronicles

At 11:00 on Monday, it hit me. Hard. It was overwhelming.

I needed a grilled cheese sandwich.

I was at work, and I couldn't think of a place to procure said sandwich. I instant-messaged my husband, bemoaning the fact that even going home for lunch wouldn't fulfill my needs, since our house lacked bread of the non-doorstop variety.

Resourceful guy that he is, Sam immediately responded with an idea.

"Go across the street to Target... Buy some bread, some cheese, and a sandwich maker. Make yourself a grilled cheese at work."

It was brilliant.

For some reason I felt embarrassed about undertaking such a complex lunch mission on my own, so I turned to Heather, my coworker, friend, and partner in cheese. She didn't let me down.

Another teammate learned of our mission and asked to join. The three of us set forth in search of ingredients and equipment.

Sure enough, we found everything we needed at Target, including a handsome little $10 grilling apparatus that boldly called itself the Snackmaster. We returned to the office, set up a sandwich assembly line, and prepared a hearty, office-made lunch while intriguing passersby.

When all was said and done, it was a tasty lunch and a fun diversion from the tax research procedures I was supposed to be working on.

This morning, one of my coworkers stopped me to voice a concern.

"You left your sandwich maker in the break room," she said.

"I know," I responded. "I figured we could make sandwiches again sometime, or maybe someone else can use it."

"Are you crazy? Someone's going to steal that thing if you don't take it home."

A few others piped in, backing her up.

"It'll be gone by the end of the week," another teammate said.

"You should at least keep it at your desk."

"No, people will take it off your desk. You should put it in your desk."

There were plenty of good reasons to leave the sandwich maker at the office. First of all, I don't need another single-purpose appliance at home - as it is, I barely have space for the bread machine, pasta roller, ice cream freezer, espresso machine, coffee grinder, and fondue sets that all vie for real estate on my kitchen counters. Secondly, I already have a car full of items that belong on my desk.

But most importantly, I didn't want to believe that somebody would steal the sandwich maker.

I think that there are three kinds of people in the world:

1. Those who see a sandwich maker in the break room at work, say to themselves "That doesn't belong to me, but it should," then put it under their coat or just nonchalantly stroll out of the building with their newly acquired appliance.

2. Those who see a sandwich maker in the break room at work, say to themselves "That's kind of nifty, somebody is going to steal it," and immediately warn others.

3. Those who see a sandwich maker in the break room at work and think, "Hmm. What a neat idea. I could go for a grilled cheese."

I fall in the last category, and I'd like to stay there. Really, it's just a sandwich-maker-oriented version of the age old optimist/pessimist question about glasses being half full or empty.

I believe in the good nature of others. I believe that the people who work in my building are not so destitute that they must steal small appliances, and if they are, they need the sandwich maker more than I do. I believe that $10 is a small price to pay for something that might make someone's day, if they're having a grilled cheese craving at work. I believe that seeing the world in this way has its rewards.

I've had a few people take advantage of my trusting nature, but I let it roll off my back. I'd rather be disappointed by some people on occasion than be distrustful of most people, most of the time.

I made a bet with my more cynical teammates this morning. If they're right, and the sandwich maker gets stolen from the break room, I'll buy them lunch. If I'm right, and it stays there, we'll make grilled cheese sandwiches together whenever the mood strikes.

Either way, I have a built-in excuse to take another long lunch.

It's win-win.

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