Thanks to fans and foes

 

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

workstations.

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

corn syrup.

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

missing.

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.

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