Melonyce McAfee is the brand new Senior Producer for CNN Living and she aims to make the break room a better place to be.
It’s time for some water cooler talk. No, not gossip about the Real Housewives or the latest office romance. We need to have a chat about the water cooler itself, and its fraught place in office life. It may seem like an innocuous source of refreshment, or a gathering spot to pass the time between tasks, but the water cooler can be a wellspring of workplace weirdness.
Lax jug replacement
It was an accident, the kind of split-second disaster played out in corporate lunch rooms around noon every day. I reached into the fridge to grab my cubby of leftovers from amongst the other tubs and containers, and out fell somebody else’s.
The yellow Tupperware tumbled off its perch, conked into a shelf and flipped to land on the floor – face down, lid off, pasta strewn. Lunch? Served.
Even if you subscribe to the 5-second rule, it surely does not apply to linguine and seasoned chicken chunks. Mop-sop-scoop? Wait – with hands? Ick. Container? Better. There could be no delusions of pretend-it-never-happened.
Mess disposed, evidenced tidied, floor sanitized, I washed the mystery person’s container, warmed my waiting pasta and beanballs, then returned to my desk to type a note to my coworkers.
Subject line: “Sorry about your lunch.”
Yaaaawn. Strrreeetch. You've been clacking away at your TPS report, manning the register or stuck on a conference call for what seems like an eternity, and it's time for a little java jolt.
You trudge to the communal break room for a cup of whatever brownish liquid they're passing off as coffee and...oh shoot! The darned thing is leaking everywhere.
I don’t always eat breakfast at home. But when I do, it is usually healthy. It may be some oatmeal with fresh fruit, black walnuts and cinnamon or perhaps brown rice with lemon juice, soy sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
When you work in an office, sometimes cake just happens.
It's never especially bad or especially memorable (unless it's actually made by a co-worker in which case, it's by necessity all "WOW! Can I get the recipe? You should totally open a bakery..."). It's never going to make anyone's last supper request list ("I cannot shuffle off this mortal coil until I have...cough...wheeze...but one more sweet forkful of that ShopRite sheet cake...").
It is, almost by definition, just fine. It can be to no one person's particular tastes (unless the nominal honoree has a food allergy), because it must please the masses. It oughtn't be too elaborate, because it must be schlepped to work and may be deemed "too pretty to eat" (spoiler alert - it'll get eaten) and shouldn't be especially pricey because dude - it's office cake. People will eat it because it is there and it is free.
Food in the Field gives a sneak peek into what CNN's team is eating, and the food culture they encounter as they travel the globe. Today's contributor Eden Pontz is Executive Producer at CNN's New York Bureau. She ate Thanksgiving dinner at her desk today. At CNN's D.C. bureau, White House Sr. Supervising Producer Stacia Deshishku and Homeland Security Producer Mike M. Ahlers corralled images of their feast.
When you work in news, you’re accustomed to working holidays. As the saying goes, "News doesn't take a vacation," so neither do we. Well, not all of us, at least. But for those of us who do work any given holiday, there's a special camaraderie, and depending on the day, a food bonus as well. Thanksgiving would be one of those days.
Food in the Field gives a sneak peek into what CNN's team is eating, and the food culture they encounter as they travel the globe. Today's contributor Eden Pontz is Executive Producer at CNN's New York Bureau. She is eating Thanksgiving dinner at her desk today.
It's the most dangerous time of the year...for my waistline.
The holiday season is here, and while many people look forward to department store holiday windows, early-bird shopping specials and visits with family and friends, I find myself looking forward to the variety of foodstuffs that make their way into the workplace.
Cops may get a bad rap for spending their down-time at the donut shop, but journalists in the cable news industry deserve a much worse rap for eating, well, absolutely anything, at any hour, in any place. And I admit it - I'm as guilty as anyone in this respect.
For instance, recently one of our production assistants came into the newsroom with a plate full of spring rolls and shrimp cocktail. Stop the presses - food has surfaced in the newsroom! Applying my skills of investigative journalism, I asked her where she'd gotten her bounty. She replied, "The break room down the hall. I got extras - try the shrimp!"
I continued my interrogation gathering intel on these...er...delicacies. Where did the food come from? How long had it been there? "I heard it was brought in for a corporate meeting earlier today, and the leftovers were moved to the break room after Newsroom finished airing," she said. Old line producing skills came into play as my internal clock back timed - I estimated the food was probably not more than 6 hours old. Fast forward - I ate the food.
I like to think of myself as a pretty rational person. In the 14 years I've lived in New York City, I've never gotten in a shoving match on the subway, punched a cab hood, or shrieked aloud in a 20-minute Whole Foods checkout line. I patiently wait my turn at crowded bars, resist the urge to body-check tourists who stop dead in the middle of busy sidewalks to snap group pictures (really – please don't do that!), and say no...no...that's okay when the neighbors' double-wide stroller runs over my toes - again.
So why do malfunctioning vending machines turn me into a total nutjob?
The things we do for our readers. In response to our post on office coffee tweaks, commenter Audrey asked, "Okay so tell me if this is odd. One of my coworkers puts salt in her coffee. She will put like 5 or 6 of those small packets of salt in a small cup of very strong black coffee and nothing else. She says it cuts the bitterness out.
I've never seen anybody do that before and I think its just disgusting and very odd but maybe I'm wrong..maybe more people do it and I'm just not aware of it."
KDirty responded, "It's not that odd, honestly. I don't know about putting it directly in the coffee, but I generally add a pinch of salt to my coffee grounds while brewing–it DEFINITELY cuts some bitterness out of the coffee. Try it!"