The Best of Andy Rooney

I went to the cafeteria in my office building today to buy lunch. They don't really call it a cafeteria, but "The Station Break Cafe." Clever, right? I call it a cafeteria and always will. Since I sometimes try to watch my weight, I thought I'd better have a salad because I've had two bowls of ice cream this week. The cafe has a salad bar, where you can choose from a selection of vegetables, cheeses and meats. Every bar I've been to has a bartender, but not my salad bar. If you want a salad, you have to make it yourself. I really don't mind making it myself, because I count that as a form of exercise.

The cafeteria doesn't really have what I'd call a tray; they use something made out of stiff gray cardboard. The trays I used in the Army were large, firm, and made of very hard plastic. They were strong and big enough for you to fit dinner plates, salad plates, dessert plates, glasses of milk and assorted silverware on them.

I picked up a tray, as well as a clear plastic container for salad. It's like a clamshell; you put the food in, then shut the lid.

The first vegetables I saw were two types of lettuce. To pick up anything, you have to use the tongs provided, which are nothing but very large tweezers. They have flat ends, so picking up lettuce is relatively easy. However, trying to grab a cherry tomato is impossible without squashing it. The tongs should be cupped like spoons at the ends. I did manage to get three cherry tomatoes into the box, one at a time, squashing quite a few in the process.

Picking up pepper slices isn't bad with the tongs, but chickpeas, beans and anything round or with dressing already on it is impossible to retrieve. Sliced beets are flat and the tongs are flat, so you'd think they'd be easy to pick up. Well, you get a couple slices between the tong ends, squeeze, and those beets shoot out like a bullet!

You have to remember when you're at the salad bar that you're not alone. The guy directly in front of me was evidently an undercover food inspector. He looked closely at every vegetable he chose, and if it didn't meet his strict standards he'd put it back and try something else. Now, I could see examining the tomatoes to see if there was a soft one, but he inspected the kidney beans one by one.

The salad bar has what they call a "Sneeze Guard." I guess it does its job but it gets in the way. I had to put my head under it to get at what I wanted.

I finally finished assembling my salad and closed the lid on the bowl with a satisfying click. When I got back to my desk, it took me another 15 minutes to pry open the container. I was exhausted.

I felt I had so much exercise just getting my lunch and opening the box that tomorrow I think I'll go across the street to the neighborhood pizza place and order a pie with extra cheese and everything on it.

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