New York

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Meal

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I get invited to a lot of free-food events that I cover for my job — and I’m thrilled about it, mind you — but a lot of times, I end up wishing I’d stayed home and opened a can of tuna.

First of all, “lunch at 12” usually means “lunch at 1:15,” and even when I try to outsmart them and show up at 1:15, lunch suddenly means 1:30!

Secondly, you’re seated with people who either demand that you give them gossip (and then don’t listen when you oblige) or who insist on screeching, “So what brings you here?”

Um, same thing as you — I was invited!

And then comes the presentation.

The 45-minute slide show about 18th-century Danish pirates or the obscure European film directors screaming unintelligible things about the creative process or the speeches about how that dead civil rights leader would have absolutely loved to have his name used for some moneymaking variety show they’re promoting.

They could have just sent me a link and some slides!

The weirdest free lunch I ever had was one to drum up PR for the tourism of a certain faraway state.

On the way in, they gave each invitee a map of the state, instructing you that in order to get fed, you had to stop at each table representing a region of the state, hear their promotional spiel, and then get your map stamped before moving on to the next table.

When all the regions were stamped, you got access to the buffet.

Tuna fish in Murray Hill started sounding like heaven to me!

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