Dora sliced the cucumber and tomato and left the washed lettuce in the colander to drain. The Spanish onion remained in the fridge until last. Dora never fathomed why something so necessary to a cheese salad sandwich could reap such havoc on the lacrimal glands.
The bell suggested she get a move on. Those hungry workers would be queuing around her tiny portacabin shortly. She took a large bread-cake and began to slice it in half. Just the one; Dora liked to cut things fresh for each of her men.
“Hey sweetheart, you’re looking sumptuous this morning.” Dora’s cheeks turned the colour of her scarlet tabard. She’d never quite grasped how to a handle a complement from a man. So she bumbled; from chopping board, to sink, to pantry; and again.
“They do it all the time.” She told Jean.
“Of course they do.” Jean agreed. “They’re being flippant. Take it with a pinch of salt.” Hum; salt. Okay.
“Your usual, Brian?” Dora asked, taking the ferocious onion from the fridge. By the time she’d popped Brian’s order into white paper bags, the lunchtime queue was hotting up. So whoever it was that flipped the pink folded ‘post-it’ note over the counter had waited until onion tears assumed anonymity.
Later, when ‘Dora’s Lunch Box’ was closed for the day, she locked the door and leaned heavily against it. Had she misread the note? She took it, crumpled from her pocket and flattened it out on the work top. The words she re-read impacted like a sharp slap on the face. She needed to talk.
“Dora, poison pen letters are from lily-livered wimps and intimidators.” Jean said. “Carry on as if nothing’s happened. Remember… a pinch of salt.”
Salt? Huh. Salt for complements… salt for insults!
The next morning Dora manoeuvred her pleasantly plump flesh into unforgiving black pants and red frock. The mirror reflected dark circles under the eyes: “Look what he’s done to me Lord,” she whispered. “And I don’t even know his name.” Salt. Take it with a pinch of salt, she remembered.
Dora unlocked the portacabin and the bumbling began. Eggs set to hard boil, carrots peeled and grated--and beetroot, messy stuff but goes well with cheese. Stay positive. God’s looking after you. He’s given you a job that you love and don’t struggle with.
Brian was first as always: “My regular order, gorgeous,” he teased. “Whoa… love those tight pants.” Dora was glad that she wore a tabard.
“No onion today Brian.”
“Sorry. Need to keep my eye out.”
“Huh?” Strange bird, this one. But she makes a cracking cheese and ham double decker. And on the industrial estate, as companies broke for lunch, the little cabin busied up.
Dora deduced that someone in-between Syd’s Autos and Tommy’s Trucks was the culprit. When the first Print and Design employee joined the queue, she pulled the note from her pocket and pinned it to the front of her tabard. There were stifled laughs and leg pulling, until the lanky guy with jug ears and a lazy eye placed his order. He spied the note and his spotty cheeks burned brightly.
“Would you like a pinch of salt with this?” He nodded. “Good!” Dora took the salt pot and laced it on the ham; and the tomato; and the beetroot; and the lettuce… and finally on top of the bread cake, before opening the white paper bag. She stared at him all the while. The man next to him was quick on the uptake.
“Hey Boss-Eye, you wrote this?”
Dora stopped. The jibes were coming thick and fast. Jeering; mocking; ridicule… she knew how that felt. The sandwich fell apart on the floor as she intentionally missed the bag: “I’ll make another,” she said. He’s targeted me, because of his own gremlins. He feels ugly; insecure. He can’t hack it.
Later, she rang her advocate: “Jean, I tell you, this bloke’s got nothing going for him.”
“So you laced his lunch with salt?”
“I did, but…”
“Dora. Go read ‘Luke 6:31.’”
The following day, Dora wrote a short note on a white paper bag and hoped lanky guy would show up …
‘You--me; more in common than you know. Fortunately, God sent me a buddy to teach me about Himself; to show me I’m loved and accepted. Do you think we could become friends? I would love to share who I know with you.
PS: I’m out of salt!’
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