I was running late for my workshop and decided to try pulling in the QUALCOMM driveway because the building where the meeting is held shared the parking lot; at least I think it does. I sometimes shoot right past the left turn, even with the signal, because I miss the sign and don’t know the name of the street. As I reach the crest of the hill I knew that the strategy had worked.
I stepped out of the van at 11:58 and ran across the lot towards the entrance. Our vans always smell funny. It must be something EVS uses to try to clean the upholstery or carpet. It’s like all the drivers have been working at Jiffy Lube and forgot to wash their hands.
I asked the ladies at reception where to go this month and I see the group admin coming out to close the door at the end of a hallway. She sees me coming and hands me a name tag with a smile, as we both go into the room. They are just getting started with the program and everyone already has their lunch.
In the past, when the meetings have been held at this location , the back counter is usually full of sandwiches salad and cookies but it's nowhere in sight so I catch her eye again and she nods towards an open doorway on the opposite side of the room. In order to get there, people have to stand up and move their chairs so I can squeeze past. If I wasn’t so hungry I’d let it go.
As I finally complete my arduous journey across the room, I see a table along the south wall, two aluminum chafing dishes in the center, the rank fuel smell of sterno lingering from the greasy residue coating the metal above the can, clouds of steam from a bubbly liquid in one, and the smell of burned pasta in the other
Two lonely paper plates, several mismatched sets of plastic ware, and a couple of napkins that looked suspiciously like they had already been used and discarded, surrounded the pitiful remains of the meal. That looks disgusting, the thought momentarily distracting my attention from the speaker in the next room warming up.
I held my plate in front of the tray with the bubbly liquid and sighed. The only hot food remaining featured a watery looking cream sauce with peas and carrots and, in retrospect, chicken, and submerged in the muck was a gummy piece of dough at least 12 inches long, which had begun its journey that day as a flaky crust, but was now reduced to an indigestible lump of flour and water and butter.
©2010 sharon j corrigan