Tuesday 17 March 2020

Credit where salad is due

¡Lá Fhéile Pádraig!
A greens feel good story for the day that's in it 
The Institute, still employing me for another six months of which I will be working about three, has 8,000 students and 800 employees. That's a small town [similar in size to Dungarvan, Nenagh or Trim] to be catered for. The only time I use the catering facilities, apart from using the hot water geyser to infuse one of my own tea-bags, is when I get a dinner voucher for some work with the voluntariat. The food is food but I cannot handle a plate of meat&veg dinner in the middle of the day without falling into a drooling and possibly noisy doze at my desk in the afternoon. Not me; I make my own lunch every morning: two slices of sourdough separated by a slice of cheese - with lettuce grated carrot or rocket, if available in or behind the fridge, on holy days of obligation [like today!].

As Bobby-no-pals, I often scarf this down at my desk with a cup of tea between classes because the general canteen is really noisy and the staff canteen annex is really cliquey. Indeed all three of my roomies tend to eat lunch at their desk: often crunching through a crate of salad, because we all lean towards the tree-hugging end of the spectrum. A couple of weeks ago, The Chemist looked up from the plateful she'd just bought from the salad bar in the canteen and said "y'know, this is really good". My daughters, and indeed their mother, worked for years in the catering trade and they know that such spontaneous articulated approval is really rare. I reponded by saying that she should really write a letter to the catering manager or in some other away convey her satisfaction to the Effective in the kitchen.  One of the variables is that, at the beginning of the academic year, the existing catering company came to the end of its five year contract and a different crew secured the gig.

[The is a rant in the background about so many of the core services - cleaning, security, parking, printing, portering and catering - have gradually been out-contracted to save money on pay and conditions. Like The Man everywhere in Ireland our management would rather pay a corporation than mind the pay and conditions of their staff directly. Thus, for one example, it is left to me to remove chewing-gum from the urinals because the contract cleaners are not invested in The Institute and don't give-a-damn.]

Last week, I saw the catering manager [the tie is a marker, although he usually has his jacket off and sleeves rolled up] working a very quiet till after the lunch rush and approached him.
Are you the gaffer? I said brightly
I am. He replied cautiously
One of my colleagues was eating a salad the other day . . .
Yers? Defensively
You don't know where this is going, I'm sorry. There's a compliment coming.
I could see his shoulders relax as his sympathetic nervous system stood down.
We'll take any feedback positive or negative. Stoutly
My colleague really likes your salads, they are varied, fresh and nicely unusual.
I agree, I often eat the salad myself, sometimes there are pomegranate seeds. I must go in and tell Theresa. And he departed to do that.

Turns out [of course, I hear you mutter] my roomie never found, or made, time [I asked] to hunt Theresa down herself and give her the feedback from the horse's mouth. Because we don't. And we should. Because it's kind. Because it shows respect. Because workers in the catering trade have their skills, their hard work, and their internal standards to give them pride and joy but barely enough money to get by.
I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ~William Penn[sylvania].
is The Institute's policy on plagiarism.

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