Friday, October 05, 2007

Brown bag fever

Some say laziness is the catalyst for creativity. I disagree. I would argue that preparing a lunch for your lunch box six days per week is a much greater catalyst.

A few years back, we had a bridge go out on our farm. Bridge building is a genetic that seemed to have passed right over my family. There was a local handyman who was up for the task of building us a bridge (Oops, I mean repairing. The county gets a little excited about things like that).

The amazing thing about this handyman was his routine. Every morning at 8 a.m. we would start work. At 10 a.m., it was time for a fifteen minute break and an apple with his coffee. At noon sharp, it was time for lunch.

Lunch for him was always the same: A peanut butter sandwich, a small bag of Lays regular potato chips, coffee, and two chocolate chip cookies. The bridge took close to five weeks to build (repair). Every day included the same exact lunch.

I approached this man and asked, “Do you ever tire of the same lunch every day?”

He replied, “I need to think about my job, not my food, Kevin.”

“You don’t ever crave a roast beef or ham sandwich instead of peanut butter?” I inquired.

He sharply responded, “My job requires me to focus. I want this bridge perfect. Routines are good.”

I, for one, do not like sandwiches. I eat out of a lunchbox six days per week and I’m not a little fellow. This creates a problem. What’s a 200 pound man like me supposed to eat? I know what you are thinking: “Obviously, if you are 200 pounds, you must be finding something!”

Sandwiches are a nuisance, but they seem to be a necessary evil. I unenthusiastically pack one every day. Unlike the handyman, I do vary things as much as possible.

Some days, my work partners and I will be working close by at noon and we will have a lunch conference under the nearest juniper tree. I have found it is hard to look manly while eating a prepackaged strawberry jello. It is even more difficult when I forget my spoon.

A cattle rancher friend invited me to help him fix a stretch of fence a few winters back. He told me to bring my lunch and that we had to pack it in a mile, so pack lightly.
Naturally, I loaded my backpack up with the normal amenities, such as a coke, a sandwich, chips, jello, a bag of almonds, an apple, cookies, a piece of pie, (I believe this is the North Beach Diet) and last, but certainly not least, toilet paper.

When noon came, I curiously watched as my friend built a campfire. “How nice!” I thought to myself. As he opened a small white bag and began putting pieces of meat on a stick, my warm thoughts started turning to jealousy. As he added barbeque sauce while roasting the meat over the fire, visions of my dog begging at the dinner table for just a small scrap went through my head.

“I don’t care for sandwiches.” He remarked.

Yeah, me neither.”

As I said earlier, creativity is spawned by necessity and want. Sitting on a tractor for ten hours per day, six days per week, gives you plenty of time to think up lunch solutions.

I have been known to put soup in a thermos on the cold days. Cold chicken fajitas are great on the warm days. Taco salads are great, but very difficult to fit into a lunch box. Unfortunately, time does not always allow for me to be creative with my lunch.

I suppose I could pack a peanut butter sandwich and an apple every day. Does that mean I would have to start thinking about my job?

Kevin Duling is a wheat farmer and freelance writer from Maupin, Ore. His stories are posted every Friday on the Capital Press blog. Comments are welcomed at

Copyright June 2007, Kevin Duling

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