You couldn’t let it go, don’t be surprised when I won’t.

Posted: 7 October 2009 in Uncategorized

I’m a vegetarian.  I’m a strict ovo-lacto vegetarian, which means I’ll eat cheese and eggs and milk but nothing with the dye Red 40.  My rule is simple – I won’t eat anything that required the death of something from Kingdom Animalia.   Since making the final decision nearly six years ago, I have not at any point had an “incident” or “fallen off the wagon.”  Anything that doesn’t conform to my rule that I may have eaten has been purely accidental.

My friends are OK with this.  Some of them tease me, but it’s lighthearted and I could give a rat’s ass.  Some of my coworkers do, as well, but I often interact with these people socially outside of work and consider most of them my friends as well, so from them, again, I don’ t care.

In my previous job, my direct superior never got over the fact that I am a vegetarian.  I was when I started, I was when I quit, and amazingly, I was every day when he would roll out of his office to my cubicle to mention, say,  (and I’m giving a real example here) “Didja hear about the new Wendy’s Baconator?” before rolling back to his office.  Yes, that is an accurate, blow-by-blow account of something that happened literally three-five times a week.

I always brushed this off, because from him, I had far more pressing concerns.  But this started to piss of my co-workers, who were insulted on my behalf. It’s worth pointing out here that I was the only vegetarian in the office.  It wasn’t until one of my co-workers pointed out how ridiculously insulting this was that I realized that yes, it is insulting.  This was not a friend of mine, this was my boss and he had no right to continually harp on the fact that I’m not part of the American food-consumption mainstream.

Fast-forward to my new job.  I am not the only vegetarian here.  There are two others.  Out of 20 employees, three of us are vegetarians.  Counting spouses, a company event of a possible 32 can have upwards of five vegetarians.  That’s 15% of us.  Are we a minority?  Yes, but we’re a little past the one-guy-in-an-office-of-forty stage here.

The owner of the company vacillates between not being able to let it go and not being able to remember.  Sometimes he cracks jokes about burgers and bacon and various other meat-related products and how they relate to me.  And then he forgets that 15% of the workforce is vegetarian.  Our company anniversary party is coming up, and in a bold move, it was scheduled at a Brazilian steak house.  We were told one week in advance.  First off, this isn’t a lot of time for 20 people to make sure they don’t have plans on a Friday night.  Second, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of a Brazilian steak house, but for a vegetarian, it’s far less exciting than a Brazilian bikini wax.   The servers walk about the place carrying slabs of meat on swords that they cut off right onto your plate unless you tell them you don’t want any more.

The meat-eater that I used to be thinks this is awesome.  I’m sure most of you meat-eaters think it is, too.  The new vegetarian me, however, doesn’t even like the smell of cooking meat, let alone having to see it waved about in front of me.

Obviously, I declined the invitation, along with the other two vegetarians.  We were then informed that this place has an awesome salad bar.  To quote Fiona Apple, “I have never been so insulted in all my life.”  People who know me know that I loooove to kvetch about pretty much everything.  While things like the writers of Fringe not doing 30 seconds of homework to realize that it’s 30th Street Station not Suburban Station really piss me off, they don’t personally insult me.  Telling me that I should be happy that the steak house I’ve been invited to (for a celebration that I am part of on which I was in no way consulted) has a great salad bar is, to me, highly insulting.  Allow me to translate this into terms the Pentecostal Christian owner of my company would understand:

We’re going to a Mosque for their Friday prayer dinner special!  For the Christians in the group, did we mention that they hold Jesus in the highest regard and venerate him as a prophet?

I’m sure they wouldn’t mind that at all!

So, once the word got out that the vegetarians would rather walk than ride at the back of the bus, the venue was changed.   Now, the anniversary dinner is an anniversary lunch in the middle of the day (which effectively excludes spouses from attending), and we’re expected to report back to work after it wraps up.  Did I mention that we were just loudly berated for not appearing concerned enough with our clients and told that we are expected to stay until 8pm on a Friday to get work done, even if we have other plans and a number of us (including myself) have pressing projects that we’re expected to have completed by the end of the week (even if it means staying until 8)?

Yeah, that’s what I’m doing over lunch on Friday.

  1. Josh says:

    To be honest, when this was going to be a free meal at the steakhouse, I was more keen on the idea. But taking three hours out of my Friday afternoon to go to a different venue that the people for whom the venue was changed won’t be eating at anyway? And eat there with the expectation, nay, demand that we return directly to work afterwards and work as late as we must to appease our clients rather than explicitly telling them what our programmers, designers and hosting gurus can and can’t do?

    Honestly, in retrospect, I think I’d rather work. Or write. Or pound nails into my face.

  2. victoria says:

    A. H.: “you can just order something off the appetizer menu for your birthday dinner, right?”

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