UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

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11/01/2006 - 7:56 p.m.

FREE LUNCH

Yes, there is a free lunch---but you can't always get what you wanted. Oh, well, a lot of life seems to have hitches and glitches. Why shouldn't lunch be the same?

Today I went to lunch with a co-worker. We picked a cafeteria-style restaurant that is only a few blocks from my office. As a carnivore in a house of vegetarians, I was looking for a meat fix so I ordered the turkey burger. They told me they would bring it out to my table. I took my tray, my silverware, and my diet, caffeine-free soda (which I had because I was living it up) and went to a table.

Five minutes went by. My co-worker got his hot sandwich. Ten minutes went by. A lot of other people got their meals. Fifteen minutes went by. "You should go up there," my co-worker urged me. "Something is wrong." The cafeteria line was sparse so it was not hard to get to the place I'd ordered my turkey burger. A young man was there. I showed him my number, told him I'd been waiting a while, and asked if he could check if my turkey burger would be up soon. He began to look. He began to look puzzled. Clearly, this was not good.

As he was looking, the woman who I'd ordered the turkey burger from came over. "Didn't you get your lunch?" she asked. "You should have it before." The young man indicated that he could not find the ticket anywhere. "It should be here," she said. "I remember writing it up." But there was no turkey burger and no ticket number 19 anywhere to be found. I sighed.

"We have to do something about this," they told me. "Should we make you another turkey burger?" I hesitated. I had to get back to work. Cooking a turkey burger would take too long. They were concerned. The young man looked at me. "And give you your money back, of course," he said. "I would," I told him. "But I have to get back."

The woman was very helpful. "Let's make you a sandwich instead," she said. It will be quicker. While he went over to the cashier to get my money back for me, she made me a tuna salad sandwich.

It wasn't quite what I expected but I felt good about it all the same. What could have been a very bitter became, well, sort of sweet.

So, yes, you can get a free lunch—as long as you're willing to settle for a tuna sandwich. Sometimes life is just like that so you might as well recognize the kindnesses, forgive, and eat your sandwich.

I think I finally have the comments working correctly. Yay!

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