PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

Chants Encounter

In the early part of this century, it was not uncommon for the workplace to contain devices that allowed one to apply dry heat to food in order to lightly char the surface. The idea was that this gentle scorching would impart a nutty scent and flavor to one’s meal. Bread, in particular, was considered to undergo a marked enhancement in smell and taste quality when subjected to dry heat.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, fire officials teamed up with the generally paranoid to make the devices in question, called “toasters” or “toaster ovens,” illegal in the workplace. The idea was that if employees wanted to heat their food, they should make use of the microwave oven (no matter that microwaves apply heat to the inside of food instead of just the outside and probably cause cancer!). In any event, from then on the only toasting allowed in the workplace had to happen in a professionally-managed kitchen.

Recently, a couple of young, hotshot social scientists I happen to know at a prestigious university in Cambridge, Massachusetts (not MIT), conducted a study in which toasters were reintroduced into offices in highly controlled settings with fire extinguishers at the ready. These two fine young scholars have been able to demonstrate that the emotional wellbeing of employees across a broad spectrum of industries improves if they are able to eat toast at work. By this I mean they are able to eat toast whenever they wish, whether it be at traditional hours for toast, like 8 in the morning, or later in the day when a person might be famished and dinner is still a few hours away.

But that’s not all. These future Nobel laureates, whom I have agreed not to name because they don’t want anyone to know that they know me, have been encouraging me (or, frankly, goading me) into demanding a reintroduction of toast into the workplace, via public chant.

With this in mind, I'm planning to lead a chant of "We want toast!  We want toast!" each Monday at noon.  Ideally, people across the globe will put aside their petty differences and/or sleep for a minute to join me in this critically important endeavor.

Perfect Storm
Idea for book: "The French Lieutenant's Librarian"
 

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Thursday, 28 January 2021

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