- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 10 October 2012 13:24, Updated 18 October 2012 00:51
Food is an inevitable part of business. I’m not referring to selfish desk monkeys who seem to spend most of their day grazing on muesli, snack bars, potato chips and last night’s leftovers (reheated, of course). I am referring to the hospitality that goes with meetings, networking, selling, pitching and general glad-handing.
I have a firm rule when it comes to eating on the job: no sandwiches, no eating standing up, no buffets. I take a theological perspective of this matter: God created the holy combination of tables, chairs, napkins and waiters for a reason.
Most people seem to welcome sandwiches at meetings. Perhaps they see it as a reward for enduring the unendurable. I have no such fondness for sandwiches at close quarters with my fellows. Perhaps I’ve seen one too many multigrain smiles.
It is hard to take discussing matters of moment with adults around a table seriously as they do battle with enormous sandwiches, which seem to defy the laws of physics, let alone decorum. It’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the little known clause of Murphy’s law: if a slab of cucumber or beetroot can attach itself to the tip of your nose, it will.
And let us be frank: the en masse mastication of sandwiches is not a pretty sight. Motherly entreaties never to eat with your mouth full apparently do not apply to meetings. Conversing with animated sandwich-chompers is not unlike conversing with a clothes dryer in full motion, if you catch my image.
My view is that sandwiches should be enjoyed in the privacy of one’s home, or on the playground. When sandwiches are presented at meetings, I will either politely decline or, by way of acknowledging my host’s hospitality, open the sandwich and pick sparingly at the contents. If a fruit platter is offered, I will always favour the fruit.
At cocktail parties, conference breaks and like events where people are served food while standing and in conversation, I would much rather forego a feed than risk damaging my tie and/or my dignity.
As for buffets, what is it about food and queues that turns otherwise mild mannered business folk into pinstriped versions of little old ladies at a Harris Scarfe sale?
I am always happy to congress at table or bar, but please don’t be offended if I decline your kind offer of sandwiches or finger-foodie things. I thank you, and my ties thank you.