Thanks Food

Sean Callahan, Associate, Orlando

Fall is upon us! Technically... As many of you know, here in Florida we are generally deprived of many of the environmental changes experienced by our northern brethren (looking at you EG Nashville office).  Rather than a transformation of our landscapes to a sea of reds, yellows, and oranges, Florida’s autumn foliage makes the breathless transition from green to dull-green.  We also receive little reprieve from our summer heat and humidity, which puts a real damper on our ability to crave, enjoy, and

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Before you get down from the Florida-Fall blues, remember Florida is not totally left in the dark when it comes to enjoying the Autumn Equinox – for one, Florida gets to enjoy the balance 12 hours of day and night just like the rest of the country.  If that does not do it for you, we must not forget Floridians get to also participate in everyone’s favorite perennial office tradition – the Thanksgiving Potluck!

You know the feeling when you receive the office-wide email prompting you to dust off the crock pot, don your oven mitts, and get cooking.  If you are especially in-tune with the holiday season you may even get goosebumps seconds before the e-mail notification pops up.  Unless, you are the person who races to volunteer to bring the paper plates, napkins, and plastic cutlery (excellent strategy by the way), you will inevitable find yourself wrapped up in nerves from planning (and fretting over) your dish, and anticipating your competitors, I mean coworkers, culinary creations.  Will Mary decide to make her famous three-bean casserole? Which of the five stuffing variations will carry the day? Will there be a sugar-free pumpkin pie option?

It’s tempting to want to take the easy way out and simply forgo entering into a Food Network-level culinary competition with your office.  After all, you have so many other stressors to worry about, and on top of it you are likely exhausted from your daily routine as it is. However, I believe the office potluck, if orchestrated properly, represents the quintessential cornerstone of inter-office cohesion.

Think about it. It is certainly fair to say we spend a lot of time in a cubicle or office, panning through an endless stream of emails, answering phone calls, and attending to an ever increasing amount of claims.  Due to the demands of these daily responsibilities it is easy to get lost in our work and silo ourselves off from our co-workers.  The potluck allows us to break the monotony by letting folks, who maybe do not even get to speak much on a daily basis, strike up a conversation and learn something about each other, possibly finding something in common and recognizing one’s self in the other.  After all, food, shared among people, serves as a unifier.

Each person who brings in a dish is doing so for the purpose of sharing something they value with others. It involves time, effort, and forethought. In the end, making your favorite dish to share with others is an act of kindness. I try to remind myself there is an exchange of goodwill attached to that gravy (even if it’s canned). That’s an amazing possibility for simply volunteering to bring in chicken dip.

By the way, if someone attends an office potluck and bites into a turkey bone and chips their tooth, it’s likely compensable (on premises during lunch break).

Now that I successfully tied that to claims defense, I challenge each of you to partake in a potluck this Thanksgiving, and to either share with someone in your office something that you are thankful for or simply express your thanks to another. Tell your boss how much you appreciate them having your back. Explain to your assistant that you couldn’t do it all without them. You don’t have to try everything on the table, just appreciate what it represents.