The Sad Tale of Lasagna Boy

Last Thursday and Friday, i hosted a meeting.  Continuous presentations, for an audience composed primarily of scientists and engineers.  Most of these folks are “knowns”, but we’d opened up the meeting to a broader audience, and as a result, there were a few folks there i’d not met before.

Logistics for these events can be a bit tough.  You need to feed people, but underwriting the cost of breakfast, lunch, and snacks for over fifty people is not something i choose to do.  So we have people do a “pay-as-you-eat” thing.  We charged $15/day for attendees, providing continental breakfast, buffet lunch and afternoon snacks. 

Reasonable.  Especially when you consider that most folks attending are being paid a travel stipend for food which is substantially higher than that.

Amongst the attendees was an “unknown”.  i watched him, trying to figure out his affiliation.  Finally determined that he was from our western office.  Oddly, not sitting with the other three guys attending from the same shop.  Hmmm.  i also noticed him disappear at lunch Thursday.  He returned after we re-started meetings with a full roast chicken, bag of carrot sticks, and a few packs of cheese crackers.

This meant he’d chosen not to pay for the meal.  No worries.  Perhaps food allergies, issues with diet, and not wanting to leave it to chance.

We wrapped things up a little early on Friday, and i worked with my junior engineers to clean things up so we could call it a week.  Tons of food left over, we decided to haul it up to the break room, and send out an e-mail saying “FREE FOOD”.  This generally causes a stampede, but incurs the goodwill of the troops.

During my meeting wrap-up, i mentioned the massive piles of leftover cookies – suggesting folks take some home, or take them to the airport for sustenance.  The unknown gent had taken me up on the offer, and loaded a napkin with cookies.  Even though this guy hadn’t paid, it wasn’t a big deal to send him on his way with some cookies.

We were packing things up and he asked “What about the lasagna?”, eyeing the full pan of vegetarian lasagna left over from lunch. 

daisyfae:  Ummm… sure, i guess you can grab a plate for the road.

My junior folks and i were very busy at this point, packing up coolers, throwing out trash, clearing the giant coffee urns.  But i noticed this guy grab the entire tray and head for the door…

daisyfae:  Excuse me, but i thought you were going to take a plate.  Not the full pan.

He explained that there were no plates.  i pointed out the plates, suggested he fill one, and went back to breaking down empty soda boxes.  Unable to find something to scoop the lasagna, he tapped me on the shoulder as i was stuffing cardboard into a trashcan.  “Do you have a spoon or something?”

daisyfae [with increasing annoyance]: Look, just use one of the other plates!  We’re trying to get this area cleared so we can get out of here…

Lasagna Boy filled a small plastic plate.  We were hauling stuff from the table to a cart, schlepping coolers, dragging unused bags of ice outside, and generally ignored him.  Seeing that the rest of the lasagna on the cart, i asked my junior folks if they need any more help – and they assured me they had it.

i headed to the elevator, but Lasagna Boy was not quite done with me, and asked about the garlic bread.  i glare at him and say “It’s already been packed up!  Have a nice weekend!” and headed to my office.

Catching my breath for the first time in two days at my desk, i cleared a couple e-mails, accept my meeting request from my new Div Chief (4:00pm on a Friday?  suckmydick, fella).  Nagging thoughts popped into my brain – “that asshole is still down there, bugging my folks for free food…”.  So i headed to the lobby one more time…

Yep.  He was still there.  Annoying the visitor control people, he asked about getting access to our IT department for some piece of hardware needed for the weekend.  They were not amused, but trapped.  My folks were done packing, and hauling the carts to the elevator.

i went back upstairs.  A few minutes later, i hear my young ‘un, AE, outside my office.  Poking my head out, i ask “Is the free-loader gone?”

AE:  We came up, but he cornered JT in the lobby, asking her about borrowing computer parts for the weekend.  And he was talking to her, while taking bites of lasagna directly from the plate!  He’s really weird…

JT is my boss.  And she is a saint.  And i knew she was trapped.  Another run to the lobby to rescue her was in order.

Arriving at the front desk, i asked “Hey, has that freaky lasagna dude left?”  The attendant said “Yep.  He just left with JT.  I think she was taking him to the computer support desk.”

They proceeded to tell me all of the obnoxious things he’d been doing to them for the past two days.  A lengthy tale that ended with “I never knew how loud someone could chew gum!” 

We saw JT and Lasagna Boy coming across the lawn to the front doors.  i looked at the clock and said “Watch this!  i’m going to extract her, and ditch him…”  Racing out to the doors i said urgently “JT!  We’ve got to move!  DivChief has moved the 4:00 meeting to 3:30.” as i shepherded her inside. 

The guys at the desk laughed out loud, smiled and gave me “thumbs up” as we walked by, leaving Lasagna Boy standing outside.  JT, however, was a bit confused “Huh?  What the hell is DivChief’s problem now?”  Explained it all to her in the elevator.

JT:  I tell you what, I don’t know what they’re feeding those boys out in the Western office, but I think we need to send ’em some cash.  What a freak…

image from here.  and no, i haven’t seen it.  would only stress me out…

32 thoughts on “The Sad Tale of Lasagna Boy

    • true. i’ve seen family members bagging up food at wedding receptions before people are done eating. and my mother took ziploc bags of fruit punch from a hotel anniversary reception “because we already paid for ’em, damn it”… (sigh)

  1. I occasionally take a trip down to Atlantic City. I like to gamble, but it’s mainly to observe how wretched humanity can be. I return feeling a lot better about myself and my position in life.

    I think that’s why God put people like Lasagna Boy on the planet. As a low benchmark for the rest of us.

    • the people watching angle is good. i should remove myself from it and start to think of myself as a sociologist/anthropologist. maybe that would keep me from stabbing clueless idiots…

  2. Aww, I kind of felt sorry for the guy. I know a really smart boy with Asperger’s who didn’t have a clue about social skills. But maybe I’m giving this guy too much benefit of the doubt here. Gotta tamp down the grandmotherly knee-jerk reaction sometimes…

    • i am pretty sure this guy had a touch of Asperger’s… there are a statistically significant number of engineers/scientists who exhibit some aspect of autism spectrum disorders… and he probably was one of them. but still… i’m a program manager, not a therapist. and i can’t stop myself from wanting to smack him after two very loooooong days.

      • “I’m a Program Mgr, not a therapist!” You need that on your email signature. …An annoying attendee, that’s what you get for hanging out with such smarty pants people in the firwst place!

      • When hearing the phrase “Well, i reckon it takes all kinds…” one of my friends at work used to always say “Nope, that’s just what we have…”. Definitely applies in this case…

  3. Oh, I’m afraid you are much more polite than I would have been. About the time he asked me about the garlic bread I’m afraid I would have called security and have him escorted off the premises and put into his car. That would have saved all the people down in the lobby and JT too.

      • i’m going to do some backchecking with the other guys from out west. i know them well enough to find out what the story is on lasagna boy… suspect there’s something extra odd going on. odder than usual for us dork types…

  4. these are the stories that make me glad i no longer have a “real job,” sugar! i work from home, sometimes in my jammies and yeah, every once and a while have MAJOR CRISIS or 2, but it’s all good. xoxoxo

    • these are stories that make me want to work at home in my jammies! there are people i genuinely enjoy that happen to work in my sphere, and then there’s this end of the spectrum… oy…

      • when he was snarfing cookies, i dismissed the “special diet” explanation and went with “cheap bastard” scenario. this guy has to make at least $70K/year, and was being paid $60/day for meals. we were asking $15 of that for breakfast/lunch. Not unreasonable. there are guys who try to make money from business trips, and i think that was the case. which makes me want to stab him.

  5. That is a sad tale. Sometimes, though, it’s helpful to learn more of a person’s backstory. Sometimes there’s a reason for odd behaviour. And, sometimes there’s not; they’re just…..weird.

    • i agree. usually i try to give the benefit of the doubt, but when i’m trying to do something, and someone is pestering me with an endless barrage of stupid questions – after i’ve told him i’m busy – that means i need to consider stabbing him.

      but i am going to make an effort to talk to his colleagues from out west and find out that back story…

  6. Wow. That’s really weird. Not quite as weird as my nutjob of a husband, stopping at an outdoor crepe place table and grabbing a bunch of Sweet’N Low packets from the sugar holder on an empty table as we walked by. “Really?” I asked him. “What? We’re out of artificial sweetener!”, he said. He’s either missing some brain cells or a conscience. I can’t tell.

    • ouch. i used to bust my mom for doing that, offering to buy her a box of the sweetener packets. and i’ve done it myself on occasion – but had to smack my own self in the head for it. i have to remind myself that i can afford to buy it. really. and that the packets aren’t on the table for my convenience, outside of the restaurant experience. but they are soooo tempting….

  7. I was certain, because I’m such a saint myself, that this story was heading down the path of the western office guy packing up food for the hungry out on the avenue or something. But no, he was just a lame-ass weirdo. I guess all this talk of the impending Rapture didn’t inspire him to do good with his weirdness, instead of evil.

    • you know, it hadn’t occurred to me that he would be going out to feed the homeless. i should have had that thought. at least once. man, was i burnt out…

    • we have a bunch of those sorts – but they tend to be more polite about it, and wouldn’t be bugging me while i’m busily packing up things to clear out the meeting area…

  8. In our department at University the secretary sometimes sends round an email so that we can come and hoover the lunch up, but I think the unwritten rule is you eat it there and then in the office, not take it away with you. I try to make the most of it to be honest because occasionally we’re strongly encouraged to make visiting lecturers and researchers welcome by going out for dinner with them, which feels faintly coercive, especially when there’s never any money to entertain them.

    • when visiting universities, and having a catered lunch, i always ask if they’re going to offer the leftovers to the grad students, who (in all likelihood) did a bunch of the reseearch that went into the presentations… and yes, the rule is “eat it there, or take one meal”.

  9. Daisyfae, I am all a’chuckle and a’chortle at the tale of Lasagna Boy, who I picked as someone on the Aspy spectrum halfway through the tale…I myself have in-built shame mechanisms to prevent me making off with other people’s catering. The other un-written rule of food at functions is that the people who put in the work (you, your junior staffies, JT and the gang) get first dibs and most dibs on leftovers.

    • i really wish it had occurred to me at the time that it might be an “Aspy” issue. i would have conjured a teeny bit more patience. still wouldn’t have given him the entire pan, though. but yes, it goes to the ‘young ‘uns’ first…. always…

  10. The first rule of being a scavenger is to conceal your scavenging as best you can… meaning you don’t bug people about the stuff you want to scavenge. You bide your time, take what’s left when no one’s looking, and don’t get fucking greedy like trying to abscond with a whole tray of lasagna.

    • EXACTLY! in my old office complex, i knew when and where the donuts would be – varying by day of the week. knowing also when the picked over remnants would be unattended. the scavengers code is bond.

  11. This is the exact reason rolling suitcases aren’t allowed at a food show…some people would haul away anything within sight. Augh, it makes me crazy!

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