Dave Farquhar, lunch ninja

My boss doesn’t think I’m human. His proof: He asks anyone who knows me if he or she has ever seen me eat. No one has.

They’ve seen evidence of me eating. But actually taking a bite? No. Not even the time we went out for BBQ.

The good Kansas Citian that I am, I love BBQ and the Kansas City Royals, though not necessarily in that order. One afternoon I had planned to go to lunch with a bunch of coworkers, only to have my plans foiled by the dreaded last-minute stealth meeting request. I’d marked myself out of office, but that didn’t stop someone from scheduling a meeting right on top of it.

I asked my boss if I could dial in to the conference call from the road. He said it was OK. I’ve done worse. There’ve been a couple of occasions where I attended two conference calls at the same time, dialing in to one with my desk phone and another with my cell phone. Hey, when they double book you and you can’t find anyone to send to fill in for you on one of the calls, you gotta do what you gotta do. My boss drove while I listened in on the call and answered the occasional question.

The call ran long. Really long. Longer than the line to get in to the restaurant before it opened. Yes, St. Louis is so BBQ-starved that any time a decent BBQ joint opens, people stand in line to get in. By the time I reached the front of the line, the call was still droning on. I went on mute and ordered a brisket sandwich and fries. My boss made light of the situation.

“Dave, where are you? It sounds like you’re somewhere loud,” he said. Then, changing his tone of voice slightly, he answered his own question. “No….where….”

Two minutes later, I was at the table with my sandwich in the middle of the restaurant, where it was even louder than in line, so of course they started hammering me with questions.

Looking around, I spied a corner of the restaurant that looked halfway quiet, so I bolted for the corner, went off mute, and answered the questions. I then raced back to the table–I’m still pretty fleet-footed, even considering my age–snarfed down a few bites of my sandwich, and then they asked me yet another question, so I bolted back to my corner to answer. I repeated the process a good five times bef0re the call finally, mercifully, ended. I’m pretty sure I’d told everyone on the call everything I ever knew about DNS firewalls and centralized logging systems. Not that I have anything against DNS firewalls and centralized logging systems, but I like BBQ better and I won’t apologize for that.

I finished the last of my sandwich, then started on what was left of my fries when my boss glanced over.

“Where’s your sandwich?” he asked.

“I ate it,” I said.

“How? You’ve been standing in that corner for half an hour!”

Then he motioned to everyone else at the table. “Did any of you see Dave eat? One minute, his sandwich was right here, and he was gone. The next minute, he’s here, and the sandwich is gone!”

What can I say? The sandwich was good and I didn’t want it to get cold while I waited for that call to finally end.

I became something of a legend back at the office. My boss even took to handing me a cookie from time to time, and somehow, without even trying, I always managed to eat them without him actually seeing me do it.

Then, last Thursday, I was snarfing down a Clif bar and my first morning cup of coffee while pulling up a vulnerability scan report on one monitor and messing with filters on another report on my second monitor. My boss walked up and asked me a question just as I took a bite.

“Sorry,” I mumbled.

“Aha!” he said triumphantly, and pointed at the Clif bar. I was human after all.

Yes. Yes I am. And apparently my food ninja skills require a certain level of caffeine intake, and that morning I hadn’t met my threshold yet.

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