We all have our daily routines. Mine usually consists of getting into the office (hopefully before anyone else is there), and with a coffee in hand and a freshly made cup of instant oatmeal, I fire up my Mac and immediately check the following websites: gmail.com, dailycandy.com, yumsugar.com, gawker.com, jezebel.com, mediabistro.com, nymag.com, and last, but definitely not least, midtownlunch.com.
If you’re a friend of mine, you have not only heard of it, but have either read the site or dodged about a dozen links I send your way in emails and gchats regarding the discovery of great lunch deals for those working in midtown Manhattan.
I came upon this site one day about a month into this job at 41st and Lexington. After a few Google searches for “cheap good food midtown ny” that not surprisingly brought up nothing, I soon stumbled across Midtownlunch.com, and my love affair with the blog began. It was exactly what I needed. Being poor with a huge appetite does not bode well in midtown Manhattan, where many lunches in generic delis and buffet spots will have you dropping $10 a pop. Ten bucks a day, for five days a week, yada yada yada equals math that makes me want to cry on an empty stomach. My tummy usually groans loud enough to stifle my sobs.
And it’s not even like I try to make up for not being able to eat out with my lunches. They have got to be the most pathetic concoctions known to the brown bagger. Let’s discuss the day when I microwaved one slice of American cheese on a piece of bread that had its crust removed due to mold. Should we talk about the English muffins I eat with my daily dose of PB&J where there are so many nooks and crannies it’s no wonder they were on special at A&P that week? [Ed note: Ms. Ball O’Sunshine has informed me that laziness that prevents me to go grocery shopping also plays a factor there. I’m can definitely afford two slices of bread. It’s just funnier to highlight the pathetic moments.]
After unloading every unfulfilling lunch into my desk drawer (the refrigerator is for perishable foods which I never buy), I check Midtownlunch.com just to see what’s out there. Chicken, beef, pork, or cheese tamales for around $2 outside of the Mexican embassy, bento box lunches two blocks from my office, rice balls three blocks away, for all pretty decent prices usually leave me on the fence asking myself—when do I go?? Splurge today? Splurge tomorrow?
The real anxiety I have is that I’m scared that if I actually tried these foods, I won’t be able to stop. Once you have a taste of the good life, how could I possibly go back to my bread and cheese diet? Alas, that is where Midtownlunch.com rescues me. While I bookmark every entry so that I can keep on dreaming, Zach, the man behind the blog, also tells us about where to find FREE food. There really is no better word in the English language.
This morning, a day behind on my blog reading, I get an email from my dad:
You doing the free lunch today? See Midtown Lunch!
I immediately get into hysterics. WHAT!!! OMGOMGOMGOMG
I pull up a new window and check the site. Sure enough, The Volstead, on 54th and Lex is giving free lunch to Midtownlunch.com readers for the entire month on May. From someone who has been to The Volstead plenty of times, usually for the bar, I do know one thing—can you say Buffalo Chicken Pops? Fried Mac & Cheese Pops? and Hummus with Olives and Warm Flatbread? —all drool-worthy food that is definitely not in the range of what Midtownlunch readers are looking for, and so this put extra pressure on me to make a reservation.
After gchatting M.s Ball O’Sunshine who also shares my love of good grub at The Volstead, I push all of my Splenda and and Sweet and Lows the hell outta the way from my phone and press the receiver to my ear. It’s a recording! Nooooo! I whisper. I pull up menupages.com to check the hours. They don’t open until 11 am! Ok, now it’s not just me, everyone has to wait to make a reservation, I tell myself.
Of course, to kill time, I go back to the blog to read those wonderful words again about a free lunch, and I noticed that I didn’t read the comments after the post like I usually do. To my horror, comment after comment was how people had set up their reservations already, because—this posting was from—gasp!—the day before! It wasn’t posted today! Yesterday! I was already so behind all my fellow Midtownlunch.com readers!!
Chomping at the bit, I wait til 11am for The Volstead to open. I finally get a guy on the phone and blurt out hicanimakeareservationforthelunchspecialtoday? To which he replies: We are all full today.
My face drops.
Full. Visions of my pathetic cheese on bread lunches come flooding back.
He told me to try again in two week to book for the third week of May.
I slowly hang up the phone and spin around in my chair to face my sandwich, sitting on my desk in a little sad heap. Maybe it’s not so ba—oh hell no, it’s worse that I thought.
Well, I tried. All I have to do is hold out until May 15—when it’s free iced coffee day at Dunkin Donuts…