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Afterthoughts: If Can, Can

Or, how a soup can set off a dangerous chain reaction.


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Photo: linny Morris

I’m feeling virtuous because I have brought in a can of soup for lunch. Who needs to spend $10 at some fancy salad franchise when you bring in soup from Costco? It’s organic, low-fat minestrone, bought by the case. I’m so thrifty! And healthy!

Head upstairs to microwave. Two coworkers are in line ahead of me in the fourth-floor kitchenette. They’re waiting to zap leftover penne, so I leave my can of soup and walk downstairs. Wait 20 minutes, back upstairs. All clear on the microwave, but, what’s this? Where’s the office can opener?

Search cabinets around the microwave. Dig through box of miscellany on top of microwave. No can opener.

Wander fourth floor in search of missing can opener.

Learn that Joanne apparently had a can opener, yesterday. Walk downstairs in search of Joanne.


Illustration: Jing Jing Tsong

No can opener.

Hot tip on a possible can-opener sighting, sixth floor. Enlist nice lady from accounting, and together, we rummage through each drawer of sixth-floor kitchenette. Found: plastic knives, herbal tea from 2004, Tupperware with note reading “Musubi! Enjoy!” Not found: can opener.

Return to third floor in search of something, anything, with which to open a can. Paper cutter? Fire ax? Machete? Notice that coworkers are backing away from me as I pace the halls, muttering, Why doesn’t anyone have a machete?

It’s a good thing I work near Ross Dress for Less. At Ross, find citrus squeezers, apple cutters, wine openers, egg slicers, mushroom scrubbers, cheese graters, Rachel Ray cookware, leopard-print brooms. Not found: can opener.

Escalator in Ross broken. Wait for elevator.

Ooh! Handbags! Focus …

Ooh! Barstools! Focus …

Enter Longs Drugs.

Ooh! Sippy cup. Need to buy a sippy cup … And a card for my sister-in-law. Now, wait, why was I here?

Can opener, can opener. D’oh! Delivery guy has three boxes of toasters blocking access to the kitchen-tool section. Delivery guy senses my desperation and moves boxes for me.

Finally get my hands on a $9.49 Swing-A-Way can opener. Huh, the packaging says it’s the “World’s favorite can opener for 50 years,” and, that the Swing-A-Way can opener was selected by NASA for use in the Skylab Space Station. This must be a damn fine can opener!

Decide to buy three: one for the third floor, one for the fourth floor and one for the sixth floor. NASA would be proud.

Dart past glacially slow-moving Longs Drugs patrons and get in line. Read People magazine. Inch forward. Elderly man in front of me purchases two cans of chopped clams … with a $100 bill. Cashier painstakingly counts change.

At last! I am the owner of three can openers, an accomplishment that this morning would not have struck me as a terribly important goal in life.

Return to desk, wrestle open soup with World’s Best Can Opener and place soup in bowl.

Dip ruffles of blouse into bowl on way upstairs to the microwave.

Clean blouse.

Heat soup.

Stir and enjoy. It’s so simple to bring your own lunch.

And it’s only 4:55 p.m.

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