Monday, April 20, 2009

It's Rude to Eat Other People's Food

This may sound like a simple statement of fact, but it seems that not eating other people's food without being invited is not actually a part of common sense canon. What I learned over the weekend was that some people simply do not choose to respect this boundary, going so far as to flout it in a manner that is both crass and offensive, and a little shocking in its lack of decency.

Now, yes - perhaps this may be an overly vehement response to the incident in question, but I'm like a mama bear with her cubs, if her cubs were edible pieces of food and not actually her cubs. Do not mess with me and my food or I will get very, VERY upset and maybe even maim you in an uncontrollable rage. I believe that sharing is caring, but I also believe in verifying the care before the share, not in food-thieves.

Let's go backwards for a minute so that I may explain.

Every month, I volunteer a Saturday morning and afternoon to the Friends of the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter, working with good souls like Raelynn Kane to help surrendered and stray dogs find loving homes before the clock ticks its last tock and the euthanasia train stops at that sad, disgusting place on Humane Way (what an ironic name for a kill shelter ...), the treasure trove in which I found my Baxter Bear. Starting at about 8:30AM, we walk the dogs that will be shown at the adoption fair at the Jefferson Feed Store, our next stop, and do the best we can until 2PM. A pretty long day, considering that we run around, clean up, talk/sell, and, in best case scenarios, adopt out. So by the time noon comes around ,we're pretty ragged around the edges and hungry as mofos.

They bring in New Orleans original Italian Pie pizzas every adoption fair, and the one they use off Jefferson Highway is particularly tasty. (Hey, not all franchises/chains are made equal.) It comes in hot, fresh, and dripping in cheese; toppings are generous and fresh; crusts are doughy but crisp -- when all's said and done, after chasing around dogs and puppies that spend too long of time cooped up in filthy concrete stenchholes and have energy to burn, it's a welcome perk for the many hours of service.

All I had that morning was a two-day-old lemon poppyseed muffin (almost as good as new after some baking at 350 degrees in the toaster oven for eight minutes) from another New Orleans-based chain, PJ's, I was RAVENOUS by the time the four pies hit the tables.

We all kind of eat in shifts, handing off the remaining dogs so that each of us can eat, and when I had a chance to help myself, it was a good thing. I was standing by the table with the pizzas when our one-eyed pirate German shepherd dog Jillian knocked over four slices of pepperoni. Well, no matter -- who can resist when all you get is kibble? But after this, with my face full of cheese and grease, I took the position of Pizza Guard, defender of pizza from beasts of ye wilde.

Little did I know that it'd need guarding against humans.

A man of advanced age and his wife were looking curiously at the remaining dogs,wandering in our bullpen. The volunteers, all holding leashes or covered in dog hair, were obvious, and it was that group of people that were taking part of the Italian Pies. Duh, right?


Old dude opens up the closest box and grabs a big slice of the chicken pizza. I look over at him and say as politely as it can be said, "Excuse me, sir? These pizzas are actually for the volunteers."

Old dude looks me dead in the eye with nary a twinkle in his humorless ones, opens his sunkened mouth, and sinks into the pizza.

You'd think that's enough of an insult, right? Wrong again, my friend. He retaliates, chewing slowly and with lips smacking with this classy and very mature response: "Too late now." Chomp, chomp. "You want this back or something?"

My colleagues and I just stand there in deep shock. Did that really just happen? Did this man, whose age was closer to 80 than 8, really just stare me down before taking a bite of the volunteers' reward pizza, and proceed to be a total, unapologetic, classless Grade A-hole?

I mean, a typical person's response would be of embarrassment: "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize," followed by a replacement of the slice, which courtesy would then indicate that we would say, "Nah, don't worry about it -- I think there's enough."

But there was no guilt, shame, or sorrow in this grumpy man's demeanor. It was pure satisfaction as he walked around the adoptable animals, very obviously flaunting his stolen goods, insulting the people who were waiting for their break to dig in to that specialty pie, since he'd taken the second to last slice.

Good to know at least that the influx of the lack of etiquette and courtesy in today's world isn't a new problem, since some of our elders are undeserving of that title. Thanks, jerk.

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