Wednesday, December 04, 2002

A meeting is taking place in our boardroom right now. As there are bigwigs from outside of the office attending, it is a catered affair. Big, hearty, fancy sandwiches; freshly cut fruit; big ol’ chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies ... and there’s way too much for the twelve people in the meeting to eat themselves. A murmur ripples through the company.

So now the wait begins. Such is the existence of a boardroom-snack vulture. We wait, knowing that other vultures are waiting too, watching for the first hint of the end of the meeting. Eventually, we will hear the muffled sounds of a single speaker’s voice turn into general rumblings of after-presentation discussions. Chairs and papers on the table will begin to shuffle as one or two bolters exit the room. We vultures must wait until all the meeting attendees are out of the room or the meeting arranger brings the leftover carrion out into the free-for-all lunchroom area.

The less tactful of us might actually wait in the lunchroom, like Pavlovian subjects, attempting to maintain composure and conceal our true raison d’etre. Other vultures will sit at their desks, flipping through previously-read e-mail messages, absent-mindedly surfing the net or rearranging desktop icons, all the while straining to hear the footfalls of someone with partially-laden plastic delicatessen trays.

Then it happens. The last of the meeting noises are suddenly released as the boardroom door swings open from a well-practiced bum-push of someone with full hands. As the treat bearer makes their way into the kitchen, best pickings are quickly snatched up: the whole cookies, the sandwiches, the strawberries and grapes, the carrot sticks (if there are any left), the broccoli pieces. Next, those vultures closest to the kitchen swoop in for their pickings: the staler sandwiches, the celery, the tomatoes, the slices of melon and the ornamental parsley and lettuce. Finally, in an act of ceremonial politeness, one of the vultures will send a general message to the rest of the office that goodies are available, usually by speaking with a half-full mouth on the way back to their desk.

It is not a proud existence but for some of us, it is a living.

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