This isn’t the first office I’ve flattened my ass in, but the rules among the beasts never change—you need to think fast, never abandon food, and bared gums are a clear sign of aggression. You have to be a hunter, a cutthroat with a ragged blade and thick merciless ichor in your veins for when the first email goes out. Everyone’s little workstation chimes in staccato, “Hey everyone. There’s leftover food from the conference in the break-room, go get it.” The air starts to immediately stink, pheromones and barbarous hunger scratch at every door, and within only a beat or two, the stampede begins. Red and yellow sirens blast from all corners of the office building, the brave ones stuffing letter openers in their teeth and heading into the fray, the cowards locking their doors and weeping into their kneecaps. Personally, I try to keep inside of my own office, but I leave the door open in case I can claw the achilles of a weaker part of the passing herd, then drag them in and tie them up under my desk, possibly for use as a hostage, or if things turn dark, nutrition. Any given day of the month I’m at full battle readiness, always six or seven seconds from wrapping my belt around my knuckles to bob and weave my way to the break-room—someone had a birthday, and I’m ready to trade concussions for cream cheese frosting.
The interns are the first wave to deal with. They’re young, they’re fast, and always terribly hungry for anything that can be converted into clean piss, a YouTube video, cheap weed, or a boner. They’ve got these fresh little teeth, and they’re never fed, so when the pastel workers with our khaki colored office socks display weakness, they’ll pounce on anything that moves, leaving behind only a ribcage and the smell of heavy deodorant. You can usually throw a net to catch the stragglers, but the foremost of the intern pack must be dealt with via subterfuge and cunning, these young day walkers have an incredible sense of smell and check their email with relentless frequency. One tactic is to send a quick and distracting follow-up email, since, as they’ll already be up and en-route to the chow, their eyes are glazed and only find comfort when affixed to a tiny screen, and on this tiny screen they’ll read something like, “Uh, nope, no food in the break-room. It’s totally all gone now, like, all of it. Everything.” You’ll get, at best, a few laborious and middle-aged steps closer to the leftover taco fixings, but making it back to your desk without a patch or two missing from your scalp is going to require thicker calves, and knowing young people these days, fire.
You must be a hunter, a veteran of office escape routes, you must wear green and grow a beard, and you must time your fridge visits carefully. For those of us in the jungles of the modern office, having our food missing even from the sanctity of the communal refrigerator isn’t so much of a surprise as it is a challenge. Once you open the fridge and notice your meal is missing, the hackles go up, that stripe of hair down your spine rises, and you start stamping and huffing at the ground, stirring up the scent and hunting for prey. Tie loosened and back hunched, you paw and slobber around the floor, poking your snout and grumbling while you sniff people’s papers, wetting them with your nose while they try to remain absolutely still. Eventually you come across the right office. It’s Jeremy, again. He immediately knows why you’re here, and you both start growling at the same time, gums bared and hands formed into claws, diving across the room to settle the matter like beasts. All that’s left behind is Jeremy in a coma, and you with the five dollar Starbucks gift card he was saving for that afternoon.
The exhausted parent feels little need to obey the Unified Rules of Abandoned Office Food, nor do they feel guilt, pity, remorse, or mercy. If there’s leftover slop from some company function,