In most American workplaces, "the office," as it is so reverentially called is where most American residents of legal working age spend the majority of their lifetime energy. A minimum eight hours per day, 5 days a week, 40 hours per week, with a staggeringly low two weeks of paid vacation per year. And here we all thought middle school was painful. And so, a workplace culture, replete with its own customs, traditions, mores, came into being.
I come into the office and am offered the honour of being the inaugural taste-tester in the Maryland-Pennsylvania Tomato Challenge. Pennsylvania's moderate real estate market has attracted half of my office's workforce to make their home there. Two tomatoes, two neighboring states, one passionate rivalry.
Each side claims their tomatoes are the best...and so I was picked to blindly point out which one I preferred. I examined them, palmed them, smelled them, and then cut them. At first I sprinkled salt on them but it made both taste so delicious I couldn't tell the difference. And then I ate them straight up, chewed them, savoured them, analysed my own taste buds, and finally was ready with my decision.
I point to the one I like (its color is a darker shade of red, and the taste is richer)....Maryland's rich soil prevails!
The victor raises her arms in exultation: victory is sweet! sweeter than the tomato even! The defeated drops his head away in disappointment...tomato is a cruel mistress. Bitter is the taste of defeat.
In an unprecedented show of her gratitude, the triumphant offers up her best tomatoes for me to choose from as a reward for my favourable palate. The vanquished returns to his desk, vowing to challenge another day, with another vegetable.