If I’m honest, the prospect of institutional box lunch was half of why I agreed to go to the accreditation workshop. It did not disappoint, because I keep a very low bar. Chips and cookies, both!

I ate the salad K. made me and the chips that A. brought while sitting in a chair on the sand under an umbrella, watching the Atlantic Ocean.

Among the many changes to commencement this year is the shift of the campus barbecue to the day of the grand ceremony. Total hit with me. I cried at the valedictory speech and then tweeted through the reading of 1600 names then wandered back to campus, returned my rental gown, picked up my Aramark meal, and ate it with my email in my office. It’s a good life!

There really aren’t that many days when what I wish for is Aramark catering, but this was one of those days, ran to work, didn’t pack anything, K. is gone so the refrigerator is out of roasted vegetable leftovers, scheduled up the wazoo through to 9pm. The strategic planning meeting was the best thing that happened to me all day.

The day was absurd, running from place to place, had to get from here to there on time, the burden of K. and O.’s plane tickets, I couldn’t relax. It’s a disease. So lunch was what I could grab in the thirty minutes I spent at the May Day Labor Council Kickoff Party, no sandwiches, just cubes of cheese, these cheap blocks of cheddar that for some reason I love, they taste like being young and eating cheese in the back of the car, all salt.

It used to be barrel-scraping to get a sandwich at the campus Subway. But when you don’t do it all that often, it kind of turns into a treat. It isn’t a salad, and that’s actually something.

Does it count as a free lunch if you have to eat it in a strategic planning meeting?

It turns out institutional catering is institutional catering and this institutional catering was just as institutional and catered. Here I am seeing if my dreams will all come true and still with the damp sandwich. Higher ed is higher ed all over.

I managed to completely sidestep the Aramark pasta salad. This has long been a problem of mine, being wooed by a bowl of institutional pasta salad, giving myself a scoop of it, then having to deal with the detritus on the plate. It’s always terrible. Unless it’s macaroni salad. Why and how does institutional macaroni salad taste so good?

Lunch came later, post-long run brunch which I had by myself at the base of the hill and then walked two more miles. Long morning. Mom offered what about ham? do you want some cheese? the way moms do, I was happy with turkey and chips and wow, the view from her living room.