I usually eat lunch at my desk, hunched over my keyboard. Bad habit, I know, but my days often don’t even hold time for bathroom breaks, so the idea of having 30 minutes of solitude to dine seems rather far-fetched. (Maybe there’s a new year’s resolution in there?)
Friday, however, I was forced to venture outside my building to pick up food because I hadn’t brought anything from home. I was in a hurry (ten minutes between calls) so the best option was Pret-A-Manger, since they are located right below my building and have pre-made soups/sandwiches that allow me to just grab and go.
While my break to pick up food was only ten minutes, it still provided enough space to switch gears, make some observations and think about something other than work for a brief spell. Here’s where my head went…
As I walked through our building’s lobby, I saw that our concierge, Frank, had a vase of flowers bearing a sign that said, “Happy World Kindness Day, Cecil!” I stopped briefly to compliment them on the flowers. “Those are beautiful, Frank. But why do they say Cecil?”
Frank – who seems to be eternally cheerful, despite his chronic limp that makes me imagine he was mangled in an industrial accident of some sort before moving to the US – smiled and said, “Cecil is my name.”
“Then why do we call you Frank?” I asked, puzzled.
“That I do not know. Frank is my last name,” he told me.
Hmmm. For almost three years, we’ve been greeting him by his last name? And he’s cheerfully wished us – “his cherished tenants” – a wonderful day anyway? Yeesh. “I’m sorry, Cecil! From here on out, we’ll use your first name, OK?”
“That does sound like a splendid plan,” he answered, smiling.
I was still scratching my head as I walked out and saw a homeless man rattling his cup for change. I looked around and noticed that most people walked past wearing earbuds, not even hearing the coins he shook. I found myself wondering how iPhones and earbuds have changed pandhandling.
And because I’d been working on sales training at work, my mind jumped to the increasing challenge salespeople face in connecting with buyers via the phone. “Interesting,” I thought. “As technology becomes more advanced, it’s harder for both salespeople and beggars to reach their prospects. Hmmmm…”
Before leaping to the conclusion that many salespeople could be classified as salaried beggars, I found myself in Pret-A-Manger, where I grabbed a small tomato-feta soup and was out the door two minutes later. This prompted me to create a quick list of what I love about Pret-A-Manger:
- The packaging (it’s minimal and recyclable)
- The efficiency of the purchase (just grab and go)
- The convenience of the location near my office
- The fact that they control the napkin distribution and don’t offer them automatically (which I assume significantly reduces waste since most people grab fistfuls of napkins that they subsequently throw away, unused, when left to their own devices)
Do you notice what’s missing from that list of what I love about Pret-A-Manger? Um, yeah – the FOOD. Whoever determines their menu has a love affair with mayonnaise, thus ruining everything but the tomato-feta soup for me.
I momentarily got excited last year when they introduced bacon mac and cheese – until I tried it and realized it contained cauliflower lumps. WHAT? I’m not a pre-schooler who hates vegetables – please don’t sneak them into my food, screwing with the texture and ruining my go-to comfort food.
Actually, on second thought, maybe their menu planner is a mom from Ohio. I’ll keep my eyes out for new casserole options that feature CheezWhiz and condensed cream of mushroom soup as ingredients.
Without realizing it, I was back at my desk, hunched over my tomato soup, answering the phone for my next call, and amazed by how much ground my mind covered in such a short walk. Maybe there’s something to be said for stepping away from your desk…