Chapter 3: Lunchtime!

In the conference area Hattie was setting up submarine sandwiches on a long side table. She had brought the sandwiches in from a nearby deli. A couple of the other writers were already there and looking over Hattie's shoulder.

With a distinct note of irritation in her voice Hattie admonished the growing crowd around her, "Alright you vultures. The first rule is that the interviewees get to select their food and drinks first! You get the leftovers. Capice? Now back off and make some room here. Also, we are waiting until everyone gets here before we start."

As Hattie was berating the writers, the other interviewees started filing in with their guides. Daria recognized them from the morning meeting. She carefully positioned herself near the head of the serving table, but not so close as to look like she was a 'vulture.' At least she would be close enough to have a selection once this feeding frenzy began!"

Hattie stood guard over the serving table until all the interviewees were assembled. Then she said, "Listen up pekopons." Daria noted the obscure reference to Sergeant Frog – a Japanese anime cartoon where 'pekopons' were the inept invaders trying to take over the Earth. Daria wondered if there was a running joke in the office. "Interviewees go first! Daria, you're mine, so you start. The rest of you wait until the interviewees have their food and are seated at the conference table! Got that? Daria, go."

Daria walked along the table taking a beef sub, kosher dill pickle, plain potato chips, a chocolate cookie and an Ultra-Cola. She made certain that she had enough food to get her to dinner. She didn't want to wind up starving mid-afternoon, even though she had a couple of granola bars in her jacket pocket just in case! After taking her food Daria walked around the table and sat on the corner farthest from the food to avoid being jostled.

Once the interviewees were seated the rest of the people attacked the serving table. Daria was trying to decide if it was more like a shark feeding frenzy or a group of starving people stranded on an island seeing a shipment of food dropped from the air. Most of the writers disappeared with their food back to their cubicles. A few stayed and ate at the table. Nonetheless it was entertaining. At least the other interviewees were not trying to make idle conversation. She did have to endure that from the remaining writers, however. One woman even asked where she got her dress and jacket.

By the time 30 minutes had passed everyone had eaten. The writers mostly went back to their cubicles the moment the last bit of food went in their mouths. Hattie turned to the interviewees and said, "OK, each of you has two people left to talk with this afternoon plus each of you will have to talk to Mr. Bergen. We also have an activity for you."

Daria threw her food papers in the trash and followed Hattie to her next interview. The last two were mostly like the previous ones. This time she got to speculate on why manhole covers are round and what a penguin walking through the door wearing a sombrero would say. All-in-all Daria had to rate this day of interviewing as one of the stranger experiences of her life. Her last interviewer led her back to the conference table where she sat for about ten minutes before the other interviewees began filtering in.

Finally, Hattie showed up. "Ok interviewees. Now we are going to do some real work. I have a cubicle set up for each of you. Your assignment is to write a segment for the show based on your own life. The assignment is due in 2 hours. Sometime while you are working I will come and get you to meet with Mr. Bergen. I suggest that you not waste any time!" Then one by one Hattie led each interviewee to a cubicle. They were purposely not located close together. Daria started working.

...

Lunch for Tom had been at a nearby steakhouse. Three accountants from Doodle, Bottom, and Potts accompanied him. The place they chose specialized in Midwestern beef. He had a small steak, fries, and some pie for dessert. Tom carefully chose what he ordered so as not to have anything which might get on his suit. There was nothing worse than having to go through an afternoon of meetings with food stains on your suit! Well, at least nothing worse in the world of accounting.

...

Daria sat in her cubicle contemplating what to write. One thing that this was doing was forcing her to confront her college experience versus her high school experience. Although college had provided vastly more intellectual stimulation and the chance to pursue her real interests, the fact was that as an adult she more or less had control of her own activities. You simply couldn't beat high school for silliness and stupidity wrought by those who were supposedly in authority! Thus, Daria decided to reach all the way back to high school for an event to chronicle in an episode of Sick Sad World.

Daria had the headline: "Drunken Skunks and Fornicating Faculty – Armed Children Left in the Woods by Their Teachers. Next on Sick Sad World." To be honest the view through her scope of Ms. Barch pantless on top of Mr. O'Neil still haunted her. Despite Jane's urgings Daria had decided not to land a paintball on Ms. Barch's right cheek. Fortunately, at that point Jane was out of ammunition. Let the two have their fun! Still, Daria and Jane never looked at Ms. Barch and Mr. O'Neil the same way ever again. After that they couldn't even bring themselves to rattle the door knob on the Janitor's closet during the last period of the day. The two teachers both had planning periods then and there were often noises that could just be heard if you put your ear up to the door.

Hattie walked up as Daria was staring at her screen thinking of the next sentence to write. While it didn't quite startle Daria, it was nevertheless a surprise.

"Come on. Time to talk to Mr. Bergen," Hattie said very matter of factly.

"OK," Daria responded. Before getting up she saved her file and closed it. She also quickly emailed the file to herself. That way if someone tried to sabotage her work she could quickly recover it. Then she got up and followed Hattie.

...

During the afternoon Tom made a presentation on his senior project and the role he played as part of the team. It was well attended and several of the people present asked excellent questions. Tom's final meeting of the day was with the Human Resources department where they discussed benefits and other matters pertaining to employment with the firm. The one thing that had surprised Tom was that the senior partner came in at the end of the session and made Tom an offer to work for them. With his Bromwell education, outstanding grades, and valuable summer internships the offer was quite generous. It was enough to live a good middle class life style in New York City – well, for a new college graduate. He was even offered a signing bonus. Tom thanked the senior partner and said that he would like to sleep on it. He would give them an answer by the close of business the next day. Since it was late in the afternoon, Tom headed back to the hotel to wait for Daria.