The “Power Lunch” has always been a term that has amused me. On the one hand, you have a given “Lunch Hour” while at work, in which many choose to eat lunch outside for some fresh air, in the lounge for a different setting or step out for a quick bite. All of these implying an hour of rest away from work, be it the desk or building. Then there’s the “Power Lunch” which even CNBC has now coined their (lunch hour) news; plugging in to what is happening on Wallstreet, just incase your Twitter feed didn’t tell you so. It is essentially, working during your lunch break. My friends, the “Lunch Hour” as we know it, is dying.
Venues for these “Power Lunch” rendez-vous are seldom at the office unless they are catered. Typically, they are off-premise and in a snazzy restaurant that serves a chic version of what the diner down the street does: cobb salad, burgers and sandwiches that have aioli rather than just plain mayonnaise. My restaurant is the power house for all things lunch.
Now, the people who “Power Lunch” are quite the breed. It takes a trained eye to recognize them, but once you’ve seen one- you can spot them like a safari tour guide spots a lioness in the grass. To the untrained eye, these “Power Lunchers” look like passengers that have just deplaned a transatlantic flight. Wearing what was once a presentable suit (now partially crinkled) they frantically pile in through the front door with at least one suitcase and one personal item, and always request a larger table near an electrical socket because, “We’re having a Power Lunch meeting.”
It was a Tuesday lunch, and service was in full swing. A table of three was seated in my section but only two had arrived. As they took off their sweat-stained blazers and plugged in their laptops, they ordered drinks and appetizers. They explained to me that the third person attending this “Power Lunch” was running late, and they were to order in 20 minutes if she hadn’t arrived yet.
“She just IM’ed me. She’s on her way- should we conference call her?” one suited shark asked the other.
“Nah, she’ll just miss out on the appetizers.”
The two men ordered, never looking at me in the eye. Heaven forbid they should look away from their blackberries and miss a message that they have personally chosen a sound notification for. Three iced tea refills, a splenda run and 25 minutes went by when the long awaited third, had finally arrived. I approached the table to retrieve her drink order.
“Oh! I am just so sorry. Traffic was just awful coming from the heights-” she excused as she too took off her lady shark suit, also ridden with sweat.
“What on Earth were you doing up in the heights?” asked one of the men at the table.
“Well, I zipped over to my travel agent on the way down here. My husband and I are going to France!” and in that moment, her voice changed. Suddenly, she was white-collared and high-brow. The air grew dense with faux aristocracy and the smell self- entitlement plagued the air. “I’ll also have an iced tea.”
Now I know the “about me” tab on this blog hasn’t been written yet, but one thing you do know (if you’ve read the first post) is that I am multilingual. One of the languages is French as both of my parents are from full-blown French. Cogito ergo sum, French.
Our France-bound “Power Luncher” is that of the breed I explained prior, for she too carried a carry-on sized suitcase and personal item. Who this woman was? Well, let me describe her beyond her breed. She’s what certain people call a “Jap.” Not as in Japanese, but as is in “Jewish-American Princess.” Her voice is nasal beyond reason, and is of a certain octive that makes your eardrum cringe. She has acrylic nails (always french-tipped), a cliche monogrammed designer purse, and is a name-dropping, money-grubbing spoiled little bitch.
As I exited the wait station and made my way back to the table with a glistening glass of iced tea, I could already hear her voice. It’s approximately 167 paces(each way) from their table to the wait station, and I was 35 paces away from the wait station. She was gabbing on and on about where they are going in France. I delivered the iced tea just as she was ending the travel circuit she was to embark on, when I asked her what she’d like to order, as the two other gentlemen already had.
“Well let’s take a look,” she said as she traced the descriptions of each salad on the menu with her French-tipped finger. “Oh, this is only appropriate-” and proceeded to utter words indistinguishable to any person with any sort of familiarity to the French language.
“I’ll have the ‘SAW-lad nee-COY-zee’,” or what is better known as a Salade Nicoise.
She smiled contently with pride as she delivered her in order in what she thought was “perfect French.” What it actually sounded like was a medieval torture term, used only in some remote mountain commune of toothless potato-eating banjo players in Idaho. I nearly expected her to shout, “Hot damn!” afterward.
After the spine-tingling sensation subsided and my stomach settled, I couldn’t help myself- I had to hear it again. Some sick sadomasochistic urge inside me was saying, “It was painful, but you know you’ll never hear it again if you don’t ask now.” So I asked for clarification on her order.
“I’m sorry, which salad would you like?” Madam “Power Luncher” jerked the menu from my hand to open it and (clearly annoyed) repeated her order.
“It’s this one right here,” and pointing to the syllables as she sounded the words out for me, she did it again- “I want the ‘SAW-lad nee-COY-zee’. ”
All I wanted was a confirmation that she did indeed bastardize the words, “Salade ” and “Nicoise.” She didn’t know I was French, so it could have been a legitimate misunderstanding. But she had to do it. She had to cop an attitude with me, and as misanthropic as I may seem to be- I never start shit, but I sure as hell end it.
Suddenly, my French nature took over. Stereotypes may not be true, but they are hysterically accurate. The French notoriously are the most rude people on Earth. But that isn’t always true. We the French always know what you mean, to say- we simply choose to not acknowledge your words as our words, until properly pronounced. As she was departing to France soon enough, I thought I would aid her in her future travels.
“Ah, o.k.. Well, if I may assist you- if you don’t want to starve to death (on your trip to France), you may want to start ordering the ‘Salade Nicoise’ [sa-LAWD NEE-swas].”
She didn’t laugh, but the two shark suited gentlemen at the table did. I excused myself from the table to submit her order.
After their not-so-break-like lunch hour, they adjourned the “Power Lunch” wrapping up their cables and power chords, packing them back up into their suitcases. Just like a flight attendant, I blurted, “Buh-bye,” and waved as the bumped their suitcases into other tables on their way to the door. The coast was clear and I nervously approached the empty table to retrieve the bill presenter to find that they had left me a decent tip. I must have gotten away with it as, “she was a bitch- but she’s French…she can’t help it.”