The Law of Diminishing Returns

For no reason that’s ever been made clear to me, we have to do timesheets in my line of work. I’m not sure what good these loosely fact-based forms serve, as I’m not clocking in and out, I don’t know precisely which client should cover my facebook and google reader time, and though I make sure each day has at least eight hours noted, I know that I’ve put in my fair share of 12-hour days (as well as those 6-hour days).
I hadn’t done my timesheets since January, and HR was getting more than a little antsy. Hell, I was even starting to avoid making contact with her in meetings, for fear of reproach. Well, finally met with some downtime, I did my timesheets the best way I know how- by looking through my sent email to see what work I really did those days.
And in addition to meeting requests and important creative calls, there was another theme that ran rampant through my emails, “There’s something in the kitchen for you.”
Scones. Fresh bread & butter. Bacon cookies. Lemon cake. Carrot cake. Orange cake. Zucchini bread.
I enjoy bringing in the baked goods, it’s easy and fun. I like spending the Sundays or early mornings in the kitchen, incorporating the wet and dry ingredients, packing the finished goods in my bag, which, if I bring it out of the oven right before I leave the apartment, keeps me cozy warm on my ride up the Embarcadero.
There’s a trend I’ve noticed with the office foods though. I drop it off in the kitchen, slice a few modest pieces to get the whole thing started, and leave a note on the counter or via email, and then it begins.
The law of diminishing returns.

The law of diminishing returns is different than the one you might know. This is simply that every time I’ll return to the office kitchen, the baked good in question will have diminished significantly. First by modest slices, enough to with a cup of coffee.

Than with seemingly more substantial pieces, as this was taken not long after the previous.

But then the edges are sheared off, the slicing becomes more free-form, more angular. Where, instead of committing to a whole slice, the baked-good fiend wants just another taste, a snack. Depending on how many people are in the office, or if there are competing baked goods (this particular day, there were also brownie’s on the counter), this loaf-shaving can last well into the afternoon.

I’m not sure why it takes so long to polish off that final bite. To leave a crumbed plate on the counter, evidence of the zucchini bread gone by, the day coming to an end. It could be motivated by a gluttunous shame, or some modicum of politeness. But, more likely than any of that, no one wants to be the one to put the dish in the dishwasher.

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