Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Lunch Thief

Some years ago, when Winnifred was the regular staffer and I was a student employee at the Peak, I had my first experience of the Office Lunch Thief. The difference between this thief and subsequent thieves in my work life is that his identity was not a mystery. We all knew it was Dean. Dean was at that time a cartoonist and photo editor of the Peak. He was also a dance student and his first class ended at 10:30 in the morning, well before lunch time. So rather than eat his lunch and be hungry at noon, he would eat our's. Or whoever's. We took to leaving larger and more pointed notes on the lunch bags we put in the fridge. "No eating, not even you, Dean." Things like that. But Dean was too tricky for that. Dean realized right away that the bigger and more threatening the sign, the better the lunch. We reached an apotheosis of kinds with the brownie incident. Win and I had been to some sort of chocolate event and had gotten two extremely expensive brownies to have in our lunch the next day. Sure enough, in spite of nasty note, they were gone well before noon.

I admit it, I yelled at Dean. He was apologetic. He offered us an original, signed cartoon to make up for the brownies. Working on the theory that Dean would be famous some day and his juvenilia might be worth something, we accepted.

We are currently unpacking the stuff that has been in storage since we left Vancouver in early 2000. Among the items we found was the cartoon, charmingly signed. It is undated but it was drawn on the back of a layout flat, presumably circa 1990. I know it was well before he began his long string of appearances as a junkie in a series of tv shows. I guess it was the long hair he had at the time, but he was always being cast as a junkie. I believe it was on "The Commish" in 1994 that he got a single line of deathless dialogue: as the cop is dumping his crack down the sewer, Dean says, "Oh man, that's cold."

To check how our deal worked out, I looked on eBay for Dean memorabilia. I did find a doodle being sold for $100, so I'm guessing our cartoon is worth... more than a couple of brownies. For now, however, we plan to sit tight on our investment.

I should also point out that Dean is not actually the most brazen Office Lunch Thief I have encountered. In one library I worked at, where half the staff were perenially-hungry teenage pages, there was a lunch thief who would rifle through everyone's lunches and get the nicest thing out of each bag. We came to refer to this activity as a "getting a combo meal," as in, "Lunch thief got a combo meal so I need to run out and get some more sushi."