Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I rush off the Cafeteria as usual so I can avoid all the queues at the counters and crowds at the table and be quickly done with my share of carbohydrates and vegetables.
I find five men standing near the cash counter in a haphazard manner. Not knowing whether it is meant to be a queue or one person paying for the remaining four people (who probably want to give him moral support while he pays for everyone), I patiently wait at the periphery of the, err, unusually shaped human formation.
Finally, after a lot of careful mental calculations by the cashier and the customer(s), they collect their coupons and make their way to the Food counter and are joined by two other people who just emerge from somewhere.
I get my coupon and join the Food queue. It seems like these men are new to the Cafeteria going by their somewhat lost expressions and funny behavior in the queue. It takes quite a while for them to get their plates filled and I continue to wait while I attempt to clean my plate which looks like it is nearing the end of its association with mortals.
Meanwhile, to my utter joy, I discover that three of the men have come out of the queue with their plates filled. But they realize that they have forgotten the spoons and need to disrupt the queue in order to get them.
They approach the spoons with outstretched hands and I take a step backward, impulsively, to give them enough space (the spoons are on my right). As I take a step backward, I discover that I have stepped on something soft. The lady who was standing behind me did not apparently feel the need to stand more than a few inches away. Unable to bear the pain, she gestures with her hands and hits me in the process. I apologize, the last man who came to pick up the spoon apologizes and the lady pretends to be fine.
I move on to get some food whilst shaking my stupid head and notice that the last person in front of me is almost done. Suddenly he starts gesturing wildly with his hands, in my direction - I am saved only by a narrow distance. He has apparently paid for another new entrant and wants him to come over to the Food counter. This new bloke who enters the scene comes rushing and gets in between me and the guy at the front and stretches out in various directions to get a plate and a bowl and starts demanding that he be served some food. I am surprised that he never thought about all of us already waiting in the queue but I decide it is OK as he might get lost in the Cafeteria otherwise.
While I wait again for my turn, this guy gets his rice and then realizes he does not have a spoon. He quickly looks around, sees my plate and spoons next to his and picks up one of my spoons. I stare at him open-mouthed and then loudly declare "That's my spoon!". He hesitantly puts it back while avoiding looking at me. After a few seconds, I start laughing and feel embarrassed at the same time. I continue laughing for a while and then realize I need to say something to make the guy feel better. "Sorry, I did not mean to scare you, but I was a bit shocked". To which he says "I am new to this place...."
I laugh all the way to the table, all the way through lunch and all the way back to my desk. Here I am now, ready to face the rest of the day.