Salad Days

I went to a small town high school. It was much bigger than my tiny town grade school, but much smaller than other people’s medium sized junior highs.

I was told that once upon a time the school had featured open lunches. I guess the administration had come to their senses and realized high schoolers were irresponsible miscreants who couldn’t be trusted to make it back to school from whatever burger shack or girlfriend/boyfriend’s bedroom, basement, or garage they’d fled to at lunchtime. By the time I was in high school everyone ate in the cafeteria.

There were two choices: Regular Lunch and Salad Bar. For Regular Lunch, students and staff queued up and the cafeteria staff served them from a set of options. But Salad Bar, Salad Bar was the express lane baby.

I went through the Salad Bar every school day all four years of high school.

I never knew what it was like to stand in the regular lunch line ‘cos I cruised right past that mess to load up on your standard late 80s salad bar fare, PLUS some leftovers from the previous day’s lunch (the less popular items which hadn’t all been gobbled up by my co-students), AND I could get some cheese from a massive block of government cheddar.

People have marvelled at my commitment, my will.

“Salad Bar every school day for 4 years? Is it really true?” They ask, a powerful layer of incredulity not unlike a glorious dollop of Bleu Cheese dressing masking any subtler notes their voice might convey.

“It’s absolutely true, swear to God, scout’s honor.” I’ll answer, though I’m an atheist, and I wouldn’t know a merit badge from a fresh whole crouton

As can be imagined, the tale of my wanton years of salad bar cruising, while known by a few family and friends is not something that many in my wider social circles are aware of. Our past high school lunchtime dietary choices is not a subject that comes up often with friends or enemies.

But there’s something about my salad eating that even fewer people are aware of. A fact that, coupled with the information you already have, might just astound you to the point of disbelief.

At my workplace we have a deli. It is run by a local place and it’s pretty good (I know, people always complain, they always will).

The deli has a choice of Regular Lunches, and a Salad Bar.

Yes. Yes I do. I do it and I’m not ashamed. Again, just like in my teenage years, every day Monday through Friday. Every day I grab a container and glide past my coworkers stressing over the choices of the day, I don’t even glance at them. The people that work the deli, they know what I’m after. I don’t even look at the screen displaying the price as I whip out the cash to pay them. We nod to each other knowingly, “have a nice afternoon,” “yeah, you too.”

Call me a creature of habit. Call me a man who gets plenty of fiber. But don’t doubt my willingness to cut past the queue and forage.


2 thoughts on “Salad Days

  1. Good post! I’ve never eaten the same lunch for four years, but I will go through spells where I’ll repeat a lunch or breakfast for months and months at a time. I have no real explanation for this other than I find it comforting. It’s one less decision to make and I enjoy the familiarity of the habit. I like knowing the guy behind the counter will already have that extra side of dressing he knows I want, because I get this order all the time. I like the minimal exchange necessary–since he knows what I want and I know that he knows . . . it pares the unexplored down to the weather. “Thanks, you too, maybe we’ll get that rain they promised” are simple, pleasant rejoinders ready in the ‘ol noggin without slowing anyone down. I find, especially when I’m working outside the home, it’s almost a disruption when well-meaning co-workers insist on a group lunch at a different location. “Come on! Let’s all go try the new place” translates in my head to no familiarity, no guaranteed delicious flavor, no reading another chapter of my book at lunch in glorious solitude . . . your basic set of first world problems. But for me it’s one less thing to get mired down in, because let’s face it, we all have stuff to do. And besides, I like what I like.


    • Thanks Kristi. And thanks for reading.

      Yeah, I think a lot of it with me as well is familiarity. Like you said, “I like what I like.” I choose to focus on other things rather than deciding what to eat at the moment. In any case “choosing to focus” sounds better than I’m just too lazy. 🙂


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