Nine Ways to be Passive-Aggressive in the English Department’s Faculty Kitchen

Note: I wrote this a few weeks before the pandemic hit North America.
The idea of sharing a faculty kitchen now seems fantastical.

  1. Only bring your lunch to work when you have super-healthy leftovers. Then, as you’re beaming over your quinoa-and-kale concoction, glance at a colleague’s fare and comment, “I used to eat things like that.”
  2. Ask your coworkers questions about their research on Ezra Pound or David Foster Wallace when their mouths are full. As they are rushing to swallow and share, change course and launch into your latest abstract.
  3. Make a big deal of parceling out your garbage into the various recyclable bins. Smile pityingly when a colleague puts an item in the wrong one. Round it out by trashing the new environmental humanities hire.
  4. Drop each of the following terms during one meal: sustainable, small-batch, Proustian, plant-based protein, Pantagruelian.
  5. As she munches on French fries, tell your coworker with the autoimmune disease all about how an anti-inflammatory diet might really, really help her if she just commits to it.
  6. Loudly announce that you’ve already turned around the sixty Comp 101 papers that were handed in three days ago.
  7. On religious holidays of any sect, discourse on Caroline Walker Bynum’s work on holy fasts in medieval Europe as your coworkers are enjoying their sandwiches. Remark on how privileged we are to live in a post-agrarian society as you forego food yourself—not out of religious principles but because of the many promising studies on calorie restriction, which you hasten to recap.
  8. Clean up your area when you are finished eating, but only your area—exquisitely.
  9. Steal all the forks. It’s canonical.

Copyright © Cynthia Gralla, 2020