Deli Dance: Being Thankful While Eating Cheek by Jowl

October 1, 2012
Today’s Fond Farewell is part of the former Take-a-Break series. Use today’s post as a respite from today’s “to-dos” and have a little fun.


A ”Fond Farewell” Article

When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags. Enjoy.


In an ideal world the chance to get out of the office for an hour for lunch would be reason enough to enjoy a break from work. But things don’t always go well if you’re eating at a crowded deli and your date has not shown up. Yet that’s exactly the time you need to remember this advice from Mina Hamilton’s great book, Serenity to Go: Calming Techniques for Your Hectic Life.

Deli Dance: Being Thankful While Eating Cheek by Jowl

BY MINA HAMILTON, Reprinted with permission

eating spaghetti 2Your lunch date fell through. Instead of holding hands and gazing romantically at your honey, you’re alone, having a tuna-on-rye at the most crowded deli in town. The decibel is that of a NASA rocket launch. Whether you realize it or not, this is the perfect time for practicing a little gratitude. Begin by thinking of the complicated chain of events that produced this particular and, you hope, tasty sandwich. Bend your mind around this question: Who were the people key to the creation of this morsel?

Who makes it onto your list depends upon your imagination. A sample of folk the luncheon roster might include: The woman at the seed manufacturer, checking for quality control. The laborer who drove the tractor. He plowed the field where the seeds were planted. He also tinkered with the Deere engine to keep it humming. The engineer who designed the irrigation system that watered the lettuce. The field hand. He bent over in the hot sun, picking the lettuce. Whoa! Bending over hours at a stretch is tough.

eating spaghetti-1Send some gratitude to each of these folk. Incredulous thoughts popping up? “Thankful? No way, not when I’m surrounded by people suffering from verbal diarrhea!” Wondering, “How can I be grateful with somebody’s sports page spilling over into my soup?” Breathe. Long, deep breaths. Politely ask the guy to remove his newspaper and then let your neighbors do their thing. Return to doing your thing.

Continue with your list. The seasick bloke who stayed up to four A.M. in a cold, driving rain on a tossing sea to pull in that amazing fish. The truck driver. He sang an old Stevie Wonder song as he blasted his semi across the continent, rushing the lettuce to your local market. The gasoline station attendant pumping diesel fuel into the six-axle semi. The waiter in the diner where you are currently munching down said sandwich. Recently hailed from Pakistan, he says “whiskey down” with the greatest aplomb. It’s astounding the web of humanity that labored hard and long to deliver you lunch. Give thanks to all of these human beings.

Wait! Don’t just lump these individuals together, giving them one big thank you and then rushing onto the next part of Deli Dance. Meticulously, slowly, go through the list of people. Conjure up in your mind a picture of each person. Thank him or her personally, taking a deep breath in and out as you do so. If you’re really clever — as I know you are — your list could easily include 200 folk.

Worried that this will slow you down? Secretly yearn to inhale your food at breakneck speed? First, you can go through this list as you’re twiddling your thumbs, waiting for your order to arrive. Guess what? The delay will seem less onerous. You’ll be occupied, not be champing at the bit, muttering, “What’s wrong with the waiter?”

Second, it would be a fine thing for you to eat a trifle — just a smidgen — more slowly. Gulping down your food assures that this afternoon you’ll be as sluggish as a python that’s just swallowed a forty pound pig. If you eat fast, you’ll eat more. Slow down, you’ll eat less. Extra food in your gut equals more blood rushing to the belly. Less blood available to fuel your brain. Less brainpower to impress Oprah Winfrey during the conference call this afternoon. And if I might gently suggest, you just might find the luncheon experience more pleasurable, if you weren’t gulping your food.

So take your time with graciously thanking all those hard-working folk. Having a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon? A tofu and curry stew? A yogurt, cucumber and red pepper salad? Come up with your own list of the amazing panorama of living, breathing humans who made today’s food. You may find your roll call of twenty folk takes you right through your meal. If so, you can do the next part of “Deli Dance” at lunch tomorrow. Or go for it now.

Focus on some of the natural resources that made possible your repast. The sun. Its warm rays nourished the lettuce plant. Good old sun. For centuries humans worshipped its regular rising and setting. (And became truly petrified during its occasional eclipses.) Of late humans have gotten a bit casual. We tend to take it for granted. In the clamor of a mid-town coffee shop, with dishes clanking, waiters shouting and a cash register ringing, thinking of nature, any part of nature, can be challenging.

Cast your eyes out the Deli’s plate-glass windows. Look at the bars of sunlight falling across the street. The glints of light reflected off of the chrome on a limousine cruising by. The brilliant yellow-green of leaves backlit by the sun’s rays. Neat, eh? Without this fiery ball twenty three million miles from the earth, our planet would be one cold, uninhabitable hunk of rock. No lettuce, no bread, no tuna. No humans. Nada.

What about the ocean teaming with life? The billions of plankton paddling and pulsating around the sea. These ubiquitous critters, some the size of a grain of rice, some invisible to the eye, some transparent as glass, others iridescent pink or blue are tasty tidbits for small fry. They, in turn, fodder for small fish, which are eaten by bigger fish. And bigger fish. Along comes your tuna and — gulp.

Without those wiggling plankton your tuna would not have had a chance. Send some appreciation to all the flora and fauna of the ocean that helped create your lunch.

It’s a privilege to be at the top of the food chain. Enjoy it for a few more moments before returning to your office.

© Copyright 2001, Mina Hamilton


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