19 March, 2009

Friday Ad Haiku: Eating for free at the agency

I'm a liar.

A few haikus back, I made the statement that there are "no free lunches." Metaphorically, that's probably true. But in practice, I've found it couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I've developed a reputation as an unapologetic mooch. In my time at Renegade (from 2000-2002, and then 2006 to present), I've perfected the art of eating for free.

And now, I'm sharing my secrets. Just remember, with this kind of power comes great indigestion - and the ever-constant threat of an ass-kicking.

1. Anything without a name on it.
At our agency, the policy regarding foodstuffs is simple. Put your name on it. Stick your flag in it. Leave your brand on it. Whatever you have to do, mark it as yours. Otherwise, people like me will swoop down during off-hours to pilfer. Having no name on something is an invitation for lunchtime Communism. When that happens, your yogurt is mine, comrade.

2. Expired frozen foods.
It's inevitable. People get busy. A flustered AE will stick a Lean Cuisine Salisbury Steak dinner under an ice cube tray. A crusty designer will leave a Kashi stirfry dish in the company freezer and forget about it. And time will pass. Epochs. Millennia. At least, it feels like that as I make my weekly rounds, checking to see what stock is about to turn - much the way a winemaker checks his oak barrels, waiting for them to mature. And don't worry about getting sick; the date says BEST if used by April 10, 2007. It's not a warning. It's a suggestion.

3. Expatriate leave-behinds.
Face it. We're in a business that has high turnover. Mercurial personalities. Intense competition. New opportunities. It's a breeding ground for egress. And a fantastic source for free food. I make it a point to check and double check names. When someone leaves to pursue a new career, the last thing they're thinking about is their ham and cheese Hot Pocket.

4. Client meetings.
If you can't manage to get yourself on the account, at least introduce yourself to the client when the food arrives. I'm like a stray dog when clients come in for a lunch meeting, sniffing around the conference room, nosing through leftovers. Half a free bagel beats a whole $6.99 sandwich, know what I'm sayin'? I think you do.

5. Vending machine "shakins".
If your kitchen or cafeteria is blessed with an old vending machine, that's pretty much a guarantee there's free food to be had. Now I'm not advocating stealing. I don't stoop to such things. It's wrong. And I've got a bad back. I'm just saying. Product just kinda slips out of those rusty old spiral holders with hardly any vigorous shaking at all. And for a different kind of shakedown, check the tax license sticker on the side of the machine. You'd be surprised how much cheaper it is for the owner of a vending machine to give a talkative employee free Tastykakes than to pay the license renewal fee.

6. Parties.
I don't care how much you dislike someone at work. If it's their party, you're their best friend. Stand by their side. Give them support and well wishes. Help them cut their cake. As the cake cutter, only you truly know how many pieces someone's had. Help yourself to seconds and thirds. If need be, change clothes or put on a fake mustache each time you come back for more as not to arouse the suspicions of your coworkers.

7. Drivebuys.
If a coworker gets up from their lunch and leaves the room, you've got a window of opportunity. Sneak in for a free bite. But be careful. The laws of the elementary school lunchroom are applicable in perpetuity; don't be surprised if someone licks their french fries or sprinkles copious amounts of pepper on their salad to protect their food from people like you.

So there it is, grasshopper. I've shared my secrets. Use what you've learned wisely, though. And if you get caught. Blame it on the Cap'n. I know nothing.

There ARE free lunches.
But they are not served with a
side of self-respect.

Previously in the Friday 5-7-5: Filchbook.

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