It’s been years now since the site had become something sacred. And yet it seemed like only yesterday that the awful event occurred. In the interim, the location had grown to be a symbol of how recovery is possible, how life goes on, how we can try to forgive even if we’ll never be able to forget.
The left side of the middle shelf in our office refrigerator may not be special to everyone. But it’s where all who bring sandwiches to work store their lunch.
It’s not just a tradition; there are reasons why we sandwich-lovers prefer this spot. It’s not too warm, like the top shelf is, and it’s not too cold, like the bottom one. Because of how the refrigerator door opens, it’s easy to get to. And there’s a great comfort in being with others of your kind, knowing your roast beef and mayo can sit next to Bob from Accounting’s tuna fish salad and Angie from Human Resources’ ham and swiss.
Recently, a proposal has been made by those who bring salads for lunch — the so-called “saladists” — that they be allowed to use a portion of the left side of the middle shelf. They say there’s not enough room on the right side of the shelf. Their claim that salads are bulkier and need more room, and also that they’re more conducive to employee health, appears to be winning the support of management.
But the current management team wasn’t here nearly nine years ago on that day when Sue’s salad “went bad,” so bad in fact that fumes of rotting romaine permeated every cubic inch of the refrigerator, but hit the adjacent sandwiches especially hard.
“I’d brought a turkey sandwich that day,” remembers Joel of the maintenance staff. “It was tightly sealed in a Zip-Loc bag and yet still, it was ruined by that awful rancid salad smell.”
A spokesperson for the saladists said they’re not asking much — just a two-inch strip down the middle. They claim there should be room enough to accommodate the lunch preferences of everyone, that a fundamental principle of American life is that followers of all different lunch styles can live together in harmony. They say it would be a tribute to this nation’s tradition of accepting people of all appetites.
They point to the top shelf, where those who bring frozen dinners set them to thaw, because the department microwave needs a head start since the rotating thing broke. The Stoufferites would seem to be a community of the like-minded who also think diversity is fine as long as it’s kept on a lower shelf. The saladists claim, however, that the variety of french bread pizzas, savory chicken and rice, and low-fat chicken quesadilla flatbread melts represent pluralism at its finest.
We Sandwiccans also aren’t getting much support from the bottom shelf, where people who bring remains from the previous night’s dinner store their lunches. These Leftoverians claim they need a whole shelf because their Tupperware containers are so many different shapes that they need the extra several inches of height on that shelf. They’d love to have a few salads join them, they say, but there just isn’t enough room.
We hear the logical arguments being made to stake an outpost for salads in sacrosanct sandwich territory. We even agree that a rational analysis of the situation favors their position.
But this is a decision that can’t solely be made by the mind. It must also be made by the heart. Yes, we may appear to be emotional in our efforts to preserve the spot that is so dear to us and our memories. The saladists have many salad days to remember. To those of us who prefer sandwiches, there was only one salad day, and it was a day of inconvenience, if not horror.
Yes, you should be allowed to have more room to store your leafy lunches. We just ask that you be more sensitive to our pain, and look to build your salad outpost elsewhere.