Annette felt that salads were entirely too much work.
It was bad enough when she was young and a salad was just iceberg lettuce and tomato with some bits of apple and cheese. Maybe some green pepper if things were getting fancy. Back then, you could pick all of those things up at the supermarket and be done with it.
Now, you had to go to the farm or the farmer’s market for some things and to the supermarket for others, and you had to have certain types of greens and crumbly cheese. You had to consider colours and how to cut the vegetables so they would look the best. Everything had to be organic or made by artisans. It was a big political statement and she didn’t even know where to begin.
Ms. Delaney’s administrative assistant had assigned specific foods to each person, and Annette knew that Jean would be carefully inspecting what arrived at the luncheon. She would probably be comparing it to a master list to see if it met her criteria. Most of it would probably fall far short.
If Annette had been left to her own devices, she would have brought bread to their get-together. Or, better yet, she would have convinced them to order something in. It was a bit too much like a neighbourhood party, this potluck foolishness. It would have been far better to have had something delivered, no political statements, no stress on the employees, no running around from place to place to source locally grown tomatoes. The mere idea that she had to ‘source’ food for a party was making her stomach turn over.
She couldn’t risk doing anything else though. She had to seem like a team player, like a ‘company woman’, she had to play along. Every day at Associated Insurance felt like a delicate balance and all it would take was one bad decision, one poor choice to tip her over into the unemployment line. When she thought about it, she wasn’t even sure that they still had unemployment lines, but there was still such a thing as getting fired and she wasn’t going to risk it.
That’s why she hated having to make a salad, too much risk. There was too much choosing, too much of a margin for error. There were too many ways for Jean to decide that Annette had fallen short. It might be the peppers, it might be the blue cheese, it might be that the carrot was grated too finely or that it had been grated it at all. Annette didn’t know what the salad trends were right now and she wasn’t sure that she wanted to know.
Why couldn’t she have been asked to bring the bread? Sure the choices would have been endless, but she could have just headed to the bakery and bought the fanciest looking one. As long as it was expensive, Jean wouldn’t have had anything to say about it, and Annette would have been off the hook.
She was firmly on the hook though, choosing different sized knives for different tasks, deciding which of her bowls looked the prettiest, triple rinsing the escarole. She was making this salad like her job depended on it because, for all she knew, it did.