Friday, December 4, 2015

Free Fiction: Lunch Chat

I'm not at all sure where I'll go with this, but I think these two have a lot of conversations in them. :)

Ivan finished his walk over to the cafeteria, checked his cell phone and then put it securely away in his pocket. His stomach rumbled slightly. He’d skipped breakfast and his body wasn’t happy about it. Being hungry, he grabbed a full sandwich, a side of fries, an apple, and a pudding. The apple he might save for later, if he needed something in the afternoon and didn’t have time to get out of his cubicle.

A few of his co-workers sat at a round table near the window, and one or two looked up as he put his tray of food down, but most kept their eyes glued to their cell phones. Two played brightly colored games, two checked the news, and the rest seemed to be texting or e-mailing. After the first initial nod of greeting, nobody looked up from the screens except to locate a morsel of food.

Ivan took a bite of his sandwich. He itched to get his own phone out, but he’d promised himself to have a few minutes of downtime from the screen. His ophthalmologist had warned him to give his eyes a break during the day. So, Ivan focused across the room. Nothing interesting was going on there. He looked at the people at the table. Half wore wristwatches. All but one wore jeans. All the women had earrings. Only one person had red hair. This game was very boring.

Ivan took another bite of his sandwich. He allowed his gaze to float randomly across the room. Most of the people in the cafeteria were on screens of some sort. A few had laptops open and were tapping away, some scrolled across reading devices, most stared intently at their cell phones. One guy smiled when Ivan looked at him.

Ivan started to track away, about to catalogue the color of the carpet, but realized he’d been smiled at and checked again. The guy gave him another smile, looking directly at him. He motioned to the other people seated at his table, who were all busy staring at their devices. Then he brought one hand up to his ear, pantomiming a phone, and then made a dramatic frowning expression. He shrugged. Then he pointed to his food and then to a nearby empty table.

Ivan nodded yes. He collected his tray and walked over to the table, meeting the guy there. He’d seen this guy around a few times and was pretty sure he worked one floor below, possibly in accounting.

“I’m Ivan,” he said. “I work upstairs in logistics.”

“Joel,” said the guy. “Accounting. Want to have a real conversation?”

“Sounds weird,” Ivan joked, “but I’ll give it a try. I might be rusty.”

“Just like riding a bike,” Joel said. “Once you start, it all comes back to you. Want to start off with easy topics?”

“Sure. I like eating lunch, and the traffic this morning was a bit congested.” Ivan dunked a fry in the little puddle of ketchup he’d squirted into a little paper container. “I really like ketchup.”

“I approve of ketchup,” Joel said. “And I agree, traffic was congested. I’m considering asking for an alternate work schedule so I can get here early and leave early to avoid the worst of it.”

“Alternate work schedule,” Ivan said. “Is that on the list of approved topics?”

“Only one way to find out,” Joel said. “Just keep talking.”

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