Just about every morning, my first stop after getting
past the security gate is the vending machine on the second floor, five
quarters warming in my hand, ready to get that sugar buzz and caffeine jolt
from a 16-ounce bottle of red Coca-Cola Classic, the fuel of the masses.
That first pull on the bottle burns like Old Crow and
reminds me that I'm alive, well and living in Central Indiana. It prepares me
for the battle to come, the shift that lies ahead of me.
People cope with office life in various ways once it's
apparent they've been sentenced to a cubicle for one-third of their waking
hours. Some decorate their cube with dozens of family portraits, designed to
invite passersby to ask them about their kids.
Others write what they consider to be motivational
quotations on index cards with felt-tip marker. Some of them are biblical in
nature, others are lifted from song lyrics or movie quotes.
And others cope with white-collar work by stuffing
hundreds of pieces of candy into drawers, cups and jars that cover their
It's hard to know exactly where some of these folks
purchase their candy, since they seem to have gigantic plastic bags of it in
their possession at all times. I call these people Halloweeners, since they're
always offering up a packet of three SweeTarts or a raspberry Dum Dum sucker,
the same kind the banks like to give kids.
Even among this candy-obsessed subculture of workers,
there is another category, one that holds treasures on a scale unimaginable to
the Halloweeners, who deal in small-time stuff.
I'm talking about the serious candy hoarders, the ones
who buy massive bags of fun-sized Snickers, racks of Reese's cups, and
occasionally a wild card, like a box of Zagnuts or Chick-O-Sticks.
These, my friends, are the people to whom you'll want
to endear yourself. Achieving their full friendship and trust is an elusive but
worthwhile pursuit. These are the kind of coworkers who must constantly feed
themselves sugar or they'll snap. Their stashes of candy aren't for hospitality
as much as they are for survival.
This means that getting them to come off a fistful of
Hershey's Miniatures is a hard task; harder, in fact, than most of the actual
jobs in which we're employed. It involves social networking, the art of
flattery and a kindred sense of sugar addiction.
I once worked with a lady who must have spent $25 a
week just on candy bars for work. She wasn't handing any out, ether. Her
trashcan was a wonderland of shredded Nestle wrappers, crumpled Mounds husks
and shredded M&M bags.
Apparently she survived solely on candy because none
of our mutual coworkers ever spotted her eating lunch. She didn't go out; she
didn't bring anything with her.
Every now and then, she'd walk over to my desk and
silently place three miniature candy bars on my desk, never acknowledging my
thanks, giving them to me almost as part of a strange kind of bonding ritual
among people with eating disorders.
This candy lady was no anorexic or bulimic, as far as
I knew, but neither was she morbidly obese. She appeared to be that rare breed
of human designed to derive all its nutrition from chocolate and high fructose
In the hierarchy of office politics, the candy
hoarders maintain a very important role. They are the caregivers who make the
workday go by a tiny bit more painlessly. They should be treated with deference
and respect. They are not to be treated poorly.
Except, of course, when they go on vacation and/or
leave their desk drawers unlocked, which is when everyone robs them blind. I
personally can swipe a scoopful of Almond Joys quicker than Yogi Bear could
jack a picnic basket off some poor tourist.
There is sometimes residual guilt after these raids,
particularly if it was organized by a ringleader in my work group. Restitutions
are made when necessary, but only then. Usually, I've been smart enough to rob
candy only from the people with so much of it they don't notice when some is
Office life can be difficult, what with the paperwork,
the e-mails, the bosses and the homeless folks wanting to bum cigarettes. Our
nation's white-collar candy hoarders constitute one of the most
underappreciated groups of workers.
Befriend them, take their candy and learn from them.
These projects aren't going to complete themselves and the only thing standing
between you and its completion is these six fun-size Three Musketeers bars.
Let's get to work, America. A hungry nation works
under the influence of chocolate – and we must each do our part.