I’m the Training Specialist for my company, so when new employees start, I’m the one who trains them. In the Client Services realm, the Client Services Manager takes the new employee(s) out to lunch for their first week. I had three new employees start yesterday, so the four of us plus Kelly (Client Services Manager) and Sara (Client Services Team Lead) went out for sushi.
The meal started out quite normal: we told funny stories about disastrous past co-workers, we compared TV shows we like (well, Friends. You can’t see Salmon Skin Roll on a menu and not reference the Unagi episode of Friends!), we had a short discussion on what Sara’s tea smelled like (I said bad breath but I think the consensus was garbage).
Then the food came. As is my usual sushi ritual, I placed a tiny bit of wasabi on the bite I was about to eat and smushed it down into the rice so the wasabi didn’t hit my tongue directly.
I ate a bite of my white tuna roll and thought to myself, “Oh, I got a bit too much wasabi on this pie… oh, God… OH, GOD…”
I will try to explain the feeling that started happening in my face. It started on my tongue: that wasabi burn, but it quickly began creeping up my nose, deep into my nasal passages. Deep deep. Brain deep.
My eyes started to water. I started to sweat. I could feel that I was about to sneeze and it was coming on fast. Without time to get my napkin up, I cupped my hands over my mouth…
But I didn’t sneeze. Not exactly. Trying to describe it now I would say simply that my face exploded. 40% bark, 30% sneeze, 20% cough, 10% gag. It was like some rabid seal with a head cold let itself into the restaurant.
It was like the scene from Paranormal Activity 2 when the entire kitchen bursts and pots and coffee cups come flying out of the cupboards.
Only it wasn’t skillets and dinner plates flying out of my face; it was barely-chewed rice.
I glanced at my horrified lunch companions and assured them, “That was a sneeze.” Kelly, across from me, nonchalantly gestured at her shirt. I looked down at my shirt. Rice. She swiped her lip discreetly. I felt my lip. Rice.
Friends, I would be lying if I told you that I did anything other than spit partially-masticated food at my brand new trainees. Trainees that I am expected to train for the better part of two weeks.
After cleaning myself up and removing my fleece (because DAMN, I was sweating), I think I said something like, “Don’t use too much wasabi, guys. That shit is for real.”
I continued to sweat and sniff for the next several minutes. Kelly and Sara told me that they had seen me pre-wasabi a few pieces, including the one I then double-wasabied. PRE-WASABI! Rookie mistake.
I did not finish my lunch; I took it in a To Go box and then threw it away when I got back to the office. After all, who knows how many little wasabi bombs I had waiting for me??
My trainees handled it gracefully and, thus far, have yet to tease me about it. We’ll see if they come back tomorrow, or if the prospect of facing someone who has expectorated half-eaten food in your general direction is just too much for them to bear.