* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where every day is like Christmas. Or, at least, like a nonsectarian and nonspecific office holiday party. And what are they serving at this vague, dreamlike event? Hari Raghavan knows.

Office Pizza Party

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Who’s hungry for some pizza? I could sure use some! Bread, sauce, cheese and farm meats…It comes in a box. Usually one that’s brown with fat red cursive painted on it, and after we’re done eating we toss it and wait for the next shipment of delicious round savory pies. Better scrape off all that cold residual cardboard cheese! Or else a big fat rat might appear and infest our cubicles with hungry, aggressive rat babies. Mice.

Pizza is Italian but it’s also American. I’ve heard people say that it’s made differently here in America versus how they do it over in Italy. Who cares! My husband is part Italian, but he can’t even eat pizza because he’s allergic to yeast and lactose. More for me and more for you, too, because today we’re getting some more pizza. Yup, I already placed the order and they said it should be here, scalding hot and bulging with blood red sauce in less than 20 minutes. My husband is eating vending machine candy or Ritz crackers with Nutella today like every day, because he’s legally blind and can’t pack his own lunch, and I refuse to pack it for him because he refuses to enjoy pizza with me!

Are you ready for some pizza? It’s coming real soon. Did you get your fork from the kitchen and a hard plastic plate? Or do you prefer, like I do, to use two hands and a paper towel? You place your triangles on the sheet, you walk them over to your desk, you scarf it all down, you lick up the grease till you can’t take it anymore and say what the hell I’m just going to ingest this wet, heavy, fat-infused Bounty paper too. And why not? It’s pizza-related, so it tastes really great, and you can always get more towels from the spindle above the sink.

Wow, are you getting impatient and hungrier than ever? I am. I’m getting kind of angry, too. It’s nearing the 18-minute mark and the delivery agents aren’t answering my calls. Do they have bigger orders to fill? Are we no longer an important client to them? Should I have ordered 100 more pizza pies? Who knows! What I do know is I’m hungry, and the people I work with and really care about are hungry too, and I really don’t like it when people stand me up and make me beg for something that’s rightfully mine. The more and more I think about it, it doesn’t look like we’re getting what’s ours, and I think that is completely unfair and it makes me sick to my stomach that this can happen to us in America or Italy or wherever we are right now.

Can you make pepperoni out of rat meat? Aren’t they just tiny pigs? And pigs make pepperoni, so why not rats or mice. Is Jennifer around, or is she still on maternity? I wonder if she’s producing enough dairy to share some with us. We could turn it into cheese. Maybe not mozzarella, but something similar, like milky ricotta. I bet at least some of you idiots brought a sandwich to work today, didn’t you, even though I told you yesterday that we’d be having pizza again. Oh well, looks like you’re in luck and we’re in business because now we can glue all those bread slices together and create the base for our pie. Go get them. No wait — we’ll toast them first and then glue them together. Someone plug in the toaster.

And someone bring me a knife for the sauce. Oh wait never mind, there’s one right here on my desk. It’s a big, sharp, butcher’s-style knife, and it’s going to go downstairs right now and find us some sauce. Or maybe it can’t wait to go downstairs. Maybe it’ll just have to look for some sauce around here instead. Who’s hungry for some pizza? I am. I could sure use some.

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Subject: CEO To Serve Ice Cream!

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From: Catherine Ruskin

To: HQ – All

Subject: CEO to serve ice cream!

Sent at 8:59 a.m.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This afternoon, at approximately 2 p.m., we are all in for a very special, very sweet treat. Our President and CEO, Jon Barger, will be dishing out single scoops of ice cream (cup or cone optional) in the main lobby to help combat the cruel summer heat! Immediately prior to the event, Mr. Barger will be outfitted by HR in an authentic, ’60s-style pinstriped apron and old-tyme dairy bar cap. This should be a lot of fun!

Looking forward to seeing each and every one of you there,

Catherine Ruskin

Human Resources Administrator

From: Catherine Ruskin

To: HQ – All

Subject: CEO + ice cream social follow-up

Sent at 11:05 a.m.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We have received numerous positive responses to today’s CEO + ice cream social…and it hasn’t even happened yet! To answer a few of your questions:

(1) Some of you have noticed that the event is officially scheduled on your calendars from 2:00 – 2:05 p.m. During this time, Mr. Barger will be personally available to serve you exactly one (1) scoop of his favorite flavor-of-the-day (banana berry fudge), cup or cone optional. First come, first served. At exactly 2:06 p.m, an official Herr’s Dairy Bar representative will take over the duties of head server, and Mr. Barger will be available for a meet-and-greet at a nearby collapsible table. Each employee is entitled to one (1) handshake, and will receive a printed, personalized message of encouragement from Mr. Barger himself. Those employees wishing to bring their spouses or young children to the event will be entitled to one (1) additional shake per spouse, and one (1) inspirational head rub / hair ruffle per child. Children over the age of 8 will not be admitted into the meet-and-greet area, and are expected to remain seated in the lobby with their ice cream in hand. Please clean up after yourself, and remind your spouse / child to do the same!!

(2) Regarding photographs and moving pictures: No image recording devices will be permitted entry into the designated ice cream social area. This includes Polaroids, still-picture cameras, digital cameras, Super 8s, or any other form of identity / memory capturing equipment. There are very logical reasons for this policy, and if you have any questions, we ask that you refer yourselves to the Employee Handbook. No appeals will be granted, so please don’t ask.

(3) Non-dairy options…will not be available. Please keep in mind that this is a company-wide event. Therefore, it would be impossible to tailor the event to suit each one of our individual whims and fancies. Both HR and Mr. Barger feel that the available flavor (banana berry fudge) is more than sufficient, and should satisfy our collective sweet tooth while also serving to encourage our continued productivity for the rest of the day / season. We hope you’ll agree.

Thank you and see you soon!

Catherine Ruskin

Human Resources Administrator

From: Catherine Ruskin

To: HQ – All

Subject: It’s almost time!

Sent at 1:25 p.m.

Friends and Colleagues,

It’s almost that special time of the day! We hope you saved some room for ice cream, and that you didn’t take as long as you might usually have taken for lunch (given that we’re providing you with your dessert and all!).

A few last-minute reminders and updates:

For your convenience and ours, we have hired a contractor to serve as a Maintainer of Order (informally, “bouncer”) at this afternoon’s event. Mr. Abdullah will be present for the duration of the event, and will direct you in an orderly fashion toward your single scoop. He does not expect to speak, and in turn expects not to be spoken to. He is a professional. Please obey him.

As promised, Mr. Barger will be suitably attired for the occasion, and will be donning his brand new (vintage) Dairy Bar Owner’s outfit. However, for the sake of workplace professionalism, the outfit will be removed immediately following Mr. Barger’s tenure as Scoop Distributor (2:06 p.m., sharp), at which point Mr. Barger will change into his usual Italian suit and tie, and return at approximately 2:20 p.m. for the scheduled meet-and-greet. During this interval, please direct all of your Yes / No inquiries to Abdullah, who will answer accordingly, with either a vertical nod or a horizontal shake. Human Resources administrators will not be available at this time, as we will be helping Mr. Barger change into his suit in the privacy of the 1st floor women’s restroom.

We have had a few questions regarding post-event workplace expectations: We expect you to be productive! Just because we are providing you with a free ice cream social, that doesn’t mean that the rest of your work day should be neglected in favor of other, equally fun activities. A few of you have suggested a post-event Frisbee-golf (“Frolf”) round robin in the parking lot, while still others have mentioned the possibility of a “bar night.” No! Please be back at your desks no later than 2:45 p.m., and have your monitors switched on. We have hired more contractors to serve as undercover post-event observers, and they will be reporting directly back to Mr. Barger himself. Consider yourselves warned…

Sincerely,

Catherine Ruskin

Human Resources Administrator

From: Catherine Ruskin

To: HQ – All

Subject: Success!

Sent at: 3:45 p.m.

Whew. What a day!

Today we once again proved to ourselves that we can work together as a company and as a community to make events such as a complimentary CEO + ice cream social a reality. We here in HR were more than pleased by the incredible turnout, and I can assure you that Mr. Barger enjoyed serving and meeting each and every one of you! Thanks to your cooperation and relative obedience, it is quite possible (but not guaranteed) that a similar event might take place in the distant future.

Thanks to those of you who oh-so-generously volunteered some time out of your work day to speak with the crew from 9 News — the lines were literally out the door! We’re very grateful to them for covering this event, and we look forward to seeing the segment entitled “Local CEO Serves Ice Cream With Bare Hands” during tomorrow evening’s newscast. Incidentally, we apologize for any sanitary concerns that may have arisen due to the unanticipated style of Mr. Barger’s service; we only did what the cameramen told us to do!

Is it hot in here? (not anymore!),

Catherine “Cathy” Ruskin

Human Resources Administrator

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