“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” | JRR Tolkien | The Hobbit
Last Monday, a co-worker brought in two pounds of chili and nearly murdered The Office. Yes, I’m exaggerating…mostly. He really did bring in two pounds of chili but no one was murdered though that would have added extra spice to the morning for sure.
My office-mate, Ellissa, and I were happily complaining about our French class (which is not designed to help us learn French in the traditional way) when our resident meat-enthusiast, Toby, stopped by Kristoff’s office for the tenth time that morning. Toby’s office sits next to mine on the right while Kristoff’s is just across the hall. Toby has this rather lovely habit of shuffling down the hallway in all his five-foot-nine-Italian glory and “checking up” on all of us throughout the day; some more than others. Kristoff, or Bro Kris as he likes to call him, is Toby’s favourite and their conversations cover all things sports-related, movie-related, and meat-related but are seldom, if ever, work-related. A fact I find immensely amusing every day.
So Toby shuffled over to Kristoff’s room, leaned casually against the door-frame, and shared his opinions about the Super Bowl which had taken place the night before. The two Italians (did I mention that The Office is FILLED with Italians?! Ellissa, Toby, Kristoff, Liza, and more…it’s beyond fascinating!) discussed high points (of which there were few), low points (of which there were many), and commercials (which barely passed muster). Then Toby got around to business, to the real matter at hand: The Chili, all two pounds of it. Where he’d been hiding it, I don’t know but produce it he did. As he cheerfully informed The Office in his heavy Jersey accent (lately, I’ve been noticing the Jersey accent and realizing it’s one of the few things I really love about my state…), he’d actually made five gallons, let me repeat that again in case you missed it…FIVE GALLONS of chili, both spicy and non-spicy, but only two pounds of it remained. I’m not entirely sure how/when gallons became pounds in the re-telling of his tale but a serious discrepancy arose which no one seemed to mind.
Toby had participated in a chili contest at his church that Sunday and this was the fruit of his labours…well, the remnants of it. Said labours also gained him first place in the contest and we congratulated him. He was very insistent that we all try the chili and if you didn’t know Toby, you’d think he’d peppered it with poison and had an office-grudge. But we know Toby and this isn’t a movie. Quite a few of us had a bite, though I wasn’t among them. As a picky eater, I’m generally skeptical of other people’s cooking (so no to the non-spicy chili) and I’m extremely sensitive to anything in the neighbourhood of spicy (so no to the spicy chili).
Kristoff had the first bite and the sweats began. Liza had the second bite and the sweats intensified. She went back to her office, next to Kristoff’s, and Ellissa and I heard her exclaim “man, that lingers.” Then Toby decided it was proper to let everyone know that he’d peppered the chili not with poison but Ghost Pepper flakes. Useful bit of info, huh. Kristoff and Liza might have wanted to know that before spooning the meaty-goodness into their now-burning mouths.
Cries of “Milk!” filtered through the hallway as Steve had a go. Liza kept going on about the flavour and how it was THE best chili she’d ever tasted but Ellissa and I decided we were safe in our ignorance. Toby partook of his prize-winning creation, choked on a rather large Ghost Pepper flake, and nearly died. Sweat trickled down his face and his coughs sounded like he’d contracted the plague. It was mayhem in the hallway and Ellissa and I were most definitely amused. We left for a bathroom break and ran into the Italian Meat Chef on our way past the Keurig, around the corner, and into the foyer. He’d recovered, though tears were on his cheeks and his face was a bit red. Despite his little adventure (and the adventures of Kristoff, Liza, and Steve), he repeated his previous question: “you sure you don’t want any?”. I pointed out that since he had nearly expired and the others were barely in the land of the living, I didn’t think so.
Time passed and so did Toby.
No, he’s still with us, I just meant he passed up and down the hallway continuing to pawn off his prize-winning creation. 😉 By the end of his shift, he’d successfully gotten rid of all two pounds of chili much to my dismay. You see, my mind had changed as the day wore on. I had a 7:35 pm class that wasn’t gonna end until 9:45 and I needed dinner. Right before he left, I popped over to his office and asked for non-spicy chili. With profuse apologies (Tony’s really a gem even if he did try to kill us all), he sadly informed me that it was gone…all of it. Granted, I had said I didn’t want any, which he also informed me. More profuse apologies, I bade him good night, and the Tale of Chili came to a close.
Well not quite.
The next day, Tuesday, Ellissa showed up to work with words of praise and adoration for Toby’s prize-winning creation. She too had changed her mind later that Monday, snagged the last bits of non-spicy and spicy chili, and carted them off home. Her dad had nothing but good words about the Ghost Pepper-infused chili and Toby practically beamed when he shuffled by to ask “how it went”. Turns out he’d put every kind of meat under the sun into that thing: hot dogs, sausage, ground beef, you name it…it was in there. That was the probably the secret though I’ll never know since I never tried it.
Oddly enough, Toby cried again Tuesday but for a vastly different reason than a spicy Ghost Pepper. But that, lovely humans, is a tale for another day.
Although I never tasted the chili, I tasted the cheer. The whole adventure was amusing and heart-warming. I think that’s something of what Tolkien meant in the quotation I put at the beginning of this post. It’s the little things. It’s always the little things, like food and cheer and yeah, if more of us valued the little things instead of hoarded gold, the world would be a merrier place. If we stopped to put things in perspective, we’d realize that Eternity awaits us and we’ve gotta start living in the light of Eternity. The Most High wants us to stop and smell the roses, to stop and feel the grass growing between our toes, to stop and take mini-vacations during each day, to stop and open our eyes to the Beauty in the mundane.
Because that’s living. And that’s what this Tale of Chili taught me.
Sam, Pippin, Merry, and Frodo valuing food and cheer more than hoarded gold 🙂 | The Return of the King | I warned you The Lord of the Rings would show up all over this blog ❤
| We’re in a War, my friends, and we all need Courage on the Front Lines ❤ |