Adjusting to a new workplace is never the easiest of feats. Being “the new person” usually involves investing a solid amount of effort in meeting your coworkers and awkward mingling around the office. Add living in Seattle to that mix, and it gets a little trickier. Add working in a cubicle in a seemingly abandon wing of the building (affectionately called Siberia by the staff) in a windowless room you share with three other people, and the task seems nearly impossible.
Imagine my excitement when there was an lull in emails about the office burrito fire of 2015 (which still manages to find its way into emails after a week of accusations) and an influx of memos about something called Pie Fest. This was the golden ticket I had been waiting for.
I rallied the troops that I share my tiny office with, and encouraged making wise and creative pie choices to secure our way into the inner circles of the office. I’d like to tell you it was as inspiring as something out of Braveheart, channeling my inner William Wallace, raising a pen in the air and shouting “PIE!” instead of “FREEDOM!” Maybe I should have streaked cherry pie filling down my face as a substitute for war paint. But I’m working on treading lightly in the workplace and not ostracizing myself from the people on the same team as me, so I toned it down to a mere suggestion that we bring some pie.
The day before Pie Fest, I worked a late shift, got stuck in traffic, and dragged my aching body through the chill of the night sky and up the steps into my apartment, when I remembered one crucial fact: I still did not have a pie.
I’d love to tell you that if I had enough time, I would have made a homemade pie from scratch, with perfectly fluted edges, flaky crust, and a warm filling. But I’d be fooling no one.
The past few years for my family’s Thanksgiving I have been put on pie duty. This is not because I make a mean pie. It is because I’ve always worked late the night before Thanksgiving, and I was conveniently located next to the Whole Foods that I could pick up the pies from before they closed for the night. I’m skilled at fighting off traffic and fighting it out with strangers to get delicious pies that someone else surely made with love, but it definitely wasn’t me. Who knows, maybe they made the pies with hatred. Even hate-filled pies are better than anything I’d be making myself.
I dropped to my couch, exhausted from the day, cold from the weather, and knew I’d have to march my ass to the grocery store to do the one thing I’m good at: picking out a pie that someone else made to feed the masses.
I cursed as I walked out the door, watching my breath in the cold as my chest tightened, walking the two blocks to the grocery store where I was going to get judged, yet again, for my random late night purchases.
I browsed the pie section, wondering if I should get something crazy or something standard. I settled on a classic pumpkin, my reasons being twofold: first, it seemed like the perfect fall pie, and second, if it didn’t get inhaled immediately by everyone, which would be inconceivable, I would have a slice or two to bring home to eat myself.
I almost dropped the pie while attempting to juggle it with my tea, keys, and handbag on my way in the door the next day, but I saved it from splattering across the pavement at the last minute, thanking God for sparing the pie from its untimely fate.
I walked into my office and asked where everyone else had put their pies. My two coworkers who were already there sheepishly told me that they did not bring one. I ran into another girl I work with who told me she had a “pie incident” which involved forgetting to get a pie, making an attempt at getting one at a place nearby and getting shut out because they had sold out.
I was holding down our team. My other coworker came in to save the day. She had a creative twist on Pie Fest, which was to make a quiche with smoked salmon and goat cheese. It looked amazing, and I knew it was going to be the hit of the day. People would know Team Siberia now!
My friend who made the quiche was stuck on a call when the time came around for pie fest. We would not be marching in with our best contribution, but I led my troops into battle, armed with my pumpkin pie in hand, ready to win the war on the Seattle Freeze. After all, what makes people want to talk to you more than dessert?
I led the way into the room, gazing at the array of pie on the tables, taking the lid off of mine and setting it next to two different apple pies. As I looked around, I quickly realized that mine was the only store bought pie. Everyone had signs in front of theirs explaining that it was their pie was gluten free. Or it was vegan friendly. Or that is was the secret recipe of their great grandmother that she passed down on her deathbed.
I was the only pumpkin, so I still had a shred of hope. But there was a pumpkin maple. And even that was homemade. A line of people filtered through. We mingled with a few people. My coworker brought her quiche into the room, and people went up for seconds and started devouring it, thanking her for the thoughtful twist and making a savory version of pie to mix things up.
It was time to get back to the office. I went to the table to collect what was left of my pumpkin pie and looked at a full, untouched pie, waiting for me to take it home. My coworker looked at me and said, “Which one is yours?”
Without saying anything, I picked up my full pie, put the lid back on it, and showed her. She looked at my untouched pie next to everyone’s nearly empty platters and started laughing. I started laughing too. What else could you do? Of course, I had not added the Seattle factor to Pie Fest, which was that store bought is too consumerist and unacceptable.
I walked my entire pie back to Siberia, defeated in my pie effort, and my team of coworkers and I had a good laugh about my epic pie fail. I figured I didn’t need to make friends with pie after all. I at least had a room full of people that I get along with great, so I didn’t need much more than that.
Plus, now I would be able to go home and drown my sorrows by devouring an entire pumpkin pie in my leisure.