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I work in a small space with a handful of people. Though I do my best to keep to myself and just get my work done, there are moments when I simply cannot abide the egregious violations of my personal space. This morning was one of them.

Of the five person team, only one person does not have to attend our twice-monthly meeting due to the fact that she is hourly. Because the meetings go on for an undetermined amount of time, it simply doesn’t make any sense to pay this person overtime to attend the meeting. I often question why I have to go, because I’m not allowed to contribute, I don’t take minutes and it’s a waste of my time, but I digress. What I am useful for, I’ve found out, is that I can help clean up the catered dinner that’s leftover from the meeting.

I must say, that I loathe this task. The catered food is gross and I often don’t eat any of it. Most of the time, there’s huge amounts leftover even after all the attendees get to pack up their doggie bags. We try to save what’s salvageable, and pitch the rest. Often a huge amount goes to waste, and it’s safety is questionable having been sitting out at room temperature for 2-3 hours, sometimes longer.

This month’s menu included a “pasta bar” which sounds yummy on paper, but consisted of a translucent “Chicken Alfredo” sauce over penne, cheese raviolis in marinara, and a “Seafood Pasta” in the same translucent sauce with curly pasta. Frankly, the congealed mass of certainly questionable seafood should have gone right in the trash, but for our absent colleague’s pleas to save some for her. And by “some,” I mean that she asked for not one, but two containers be saved for her.

We begrudgingly saved it for her. One thing I’ve learned was never to deprive an obese woman the food she requests, and this person is as fat as they come. I nearly gagged as the jiggly sauce and dried out pasta globbed into the take out containers. I was tasked with taking the water in the bottom of the steamer trays into the kitchen area to be dumped out. I had to wash my hands twice.

This morning, I arrived to smell the most foul aroma known to man: microwaved seafood. Of course, I knew instantly that she simply couldn’t help herself. What I suspect is a compulsive eating disorder, based on how she inhales her food, insists we share whatever it is we bring for lunch and pounces readily on any candies, snacks or other fattening foodstuffs that are left unattended, could not be contained.

The compulsion to eat removes any semblance of common courtesy this person might have been capable of, because any sensible human knows that the stench produced from microwaving seafood is tantamount to an act of aggression. Wars have been started for less. And, although I have been able to choke back the bile as it steadily rises, I know that this is only the first round of many. While second breakfast is probably over, first lunch will be happening shortly. The barrage of foul and loathsome aroma will resurface, and frankly, I am unsure if I’ll be able to survive it.