I almost choked to death once.
That damn sandwich from White Hen Pantry! I was at my job, eating my lunch at my desk while trying to get 5 million projects done (never a good idea). At the time, I had my own office (gone are the days!), and I was completely alone. I bit into my sandwich and thought, “Man, this bread is dry!”
Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe at all. I frantically grabbed my water bottle and tried to wash the bread down—but to no avail. Nothing—no water and no air—was going in or out.
I panicked and ran out of my office. Luckily, there were a few people standing around the photocopier right outside the office, and I ran up to them and started gesturing wildly, trying to tell them what was wrong. (I didn’t even think to do the hands-on-the-throat international symbol for choking—I was just so panicked.) One of my them looked at me and said, “Are you okay?” and rubbed my back a little. (She thought I was just sad or something!) In exasperation and terror, I stamped my foot on the ground.
“Oh my God, she’s choking!” someone finally said.
“Who knows the Heimlich?” someone else asked.
It seemed like an eternity before one of them finally put her arms around my back and squeezed hard. And pop! Out popped the offender, a very dry piece of bread from a White Hen sandwich.
I coughed and sputtered and breathed deep breaths of relief. “Oh my God, thank you, thank you!” I said to my rescuer, Elizabeth (one of my temporary employees). “You saved my life!”
Everyone was asking me if I was okay, and insisting that I sit down, but I felt wonderful, just being able to breathe again. I felt like I could run a marathon.
I thanked Elizabeth profusely, over and over again. I will never forget how she saved my life that day.
Nowadays, Iwanski sometimes makes fun of me for taking tiny little bird bites whenever I eat (sometimes they really are teeny tiny little bites)…and when I’m with a group of people, I’m usually the last one done eating.
But I will do whatever it takes to never feel that choking feeling again. It was probably the scariest experience of my life.
And as far as work goes, I never eat at my desk while working any more. That shit just ain’t worth it.