I work for an accounting firm as their photocopy guy. They have a tradition here every late spring: The Office Potluck Lunch. Yesterday morning, we all had to meet in the conference room to discuss the potluck. Sheila, our boss, wanted this to be a quick meeting since we all had a long day of work ahead of us. She announced that Charisse, one of our accountants, would be the coordinator for the lunch, her job being to make certain no two people brought the same item to the potluck. We all had to say what we would be bringing. From my seat, I raised my hand to speak.
SHEILA: Yes, Eric.
ME: I think it’s pretty presumptuous that Charisse take it upon herself to be the coordinator of the potluck. This should be taken to a vote.
Sheila sighed, rolling her eyes.
SHEILA: We don’t have time.
ME: That’s outrageous.
SHEILA: Do you want to be the coordinator?
CHARISSE: I don’t know what the problem is. I’ve always been the coordinator of the potluck, year in and year out. And I’ve done a great job.
ME: Well, I’m new here so I wouldn’t know. You might be terrible for all I know.
SHEILA: Then you be the coordinator, Eric.
ME: I don’t want that stupid job.
SHEILA: All right then, let’s move on.
ME: But I don’t think Charisse is the right person to be potluck coordinator.
CHARISSE: What do you mean?
ME: I just don’t want people making decisions for me, and frankly, I wouldn’t have picked you for this stupid job. I think somebody else should get a chance to throw their hat into the race.
SHEILA: This isn’t a race.
ME: No, it’s a dictatorship.
Sheila looked up at everyone.
SHEILA: Does anyone else want to be the potluck coordinator?
Everyone remained silent, and dead-eyed. Charisse shook her head to herself.
ME: It’s a stupid job. Who the hell would want to be a potluck coordinator? The name even sounds stupid.
CHARISSE: If you don’t want to be part of this potluck, you don’t have to be.
ME: Now I’m getting kicked out of the whole thing? Just because I want to have a little say in your little autocratic luncheon? What are you, the potluck Gestapo?
Howard, a sixty-ish, gruff, ex-army drill sergeant-turned-accountant spoke next.
HOWARD: We’re just trying to figure out who’s bringing what, so shut up.
ME: I don’t care anymore. I wouldn’t want to eat anything any of you would make anyway. I’ll probably find all kinds of hair in it and stuff.
SHEILA: All right, now let’s decide what everyone’s bringing.
CHARISSE: Mary, I really hope you’re bringing zong zi. It’s everyone’s favourite.
Mary has been in our country for two years now. She’s originally from China.
ME (upset): Damnit! I was going to bring zong zi.
CHARISSE: It’s a traditional delicacy from China and Mary is from China.
ME (now really annoyed): It’s just that I make it all the time. When people come to my house, everybody wants zong zi. It’s zong zi this, zong zi that.
CHARISSE: Just bring something else.
ME: What are you bringing? It better not be zong zi.
CHARISSE: This year I’m bringing a traditional dish that my mother used to make when she was a little girl in Jamaica. It’s called steamed callaloo.
ME (annoyed and angry all over again): Ah damn it all! Steamed callaloo was my second choice. Let me bring it since you got to be potluck coordinator. Just let me get something for once.
CHARISSE: You said potluck coordinator was a stupid job.
ME: Well I’m not stupid so why would I want it.
SHEILA: Eric, surely there’s a traditional dish you can make from your own cultural background.
ME: Well… I’m half Irish and I do make a mean beer and whiskey and wine cooler stew but people have to drive back home after work and stuff. You know what, just forget it. I don’t want to be part of this dumb potluck. Nobody will let me bring anything.
CHARISSE: You must know how to make something else.
ME (almost shouting): I ONLY know how to make zong zi and steamed callaloo and everybody wants to copy me so whatever.
SHEILA: Eric, calm down.
I stood then.
ME: I just want to say something. There are people starving all over the world and you people are fighting about who brings what and what brings who. Who cares who makes the callaloo or the zong zi. Let’s not get petty here, folks. Not when there is so much at stake.
HOWARD: Shut your mouth already.
ME: I don’t want to rock the boat here so I’ll bring desert. I only make it for special occasions, usually for more civilized and cultured people than yourselves, mind you. It’s Crazy Sundae Float in a Wheelbarrow. It’s a big sundae float in a wheelbarrow and everybody digs in. So there you have it.
I sat back down then and crossed my arms.
CHARISSE: That’s disgusting. Everybody eats from the same wheelbarrow?
ME: Yeah, and with the same spoon and straw.