Originally published October 16, 2016.
Contains: long-term weight gain, direct encouraging, supernatural encouraging.
The Munchies come from an old PSA which warned kids not to eat just because they’re “bored or blue”, instead encouraging them to go outside and play or exercise. It personified this kind of mindless eating via grey blobby creatures that made you eat if you fell victim to them. As you would expect, they’ve become something of a staple of gainer fiction, with plenty of writers giving their take on the idea. That includes me; one of my first stories (and my most popular if you go by number of favorites), Mike Meets the Munchies, follows a bored, dissatisfied office worker who falls victim to the Munchies’ charms.
But I got to thinking: “bored or blue” definitely aren’t the only emotions that make me mindlessly eat. I’d say stress eating does a far better job of making me eat when I’m not hungry than boredom or ennui. Ditto for eating while I’m intensely focused on my work. What might it look like if the Munchies could be summoned by those emotions too? This story is a result of exploring that question.
Synopsis: Trent is an ambitious office worker who wants to move up the corporate ladder, but he has to work a lot of late nights to do so. In working those late nights, he finds himself losing his athletic frame to snacking, take-out dinners, and a lack of time to work out. As both his clout in the office and his waistline grow, he finds himself snacking as he works more and more, making him a prime target for the Munchies…
Like Mike Meets the Munchies, this story borrows heavily from ADigitalWarrior’s story, Munchies: Apartment Complex – Jake, particularly the interludes and how he wrote the Munchies as always talking in rhyme.
It was 6:53 PM on a Thursday night, and Trent was at the office finishing up the finance spreadsheets that were due the next day. This was far from the first time he’d stayed so late in the office. In his few months as the newest addition to the finance team, he’d spent more nights staying late at the office than leaving remotely close to 5:00. But he wanted to move up the corporate ladder to a position of more responsibility and respect, and he knew that if he was going to do that a fresh-out-of-college newbie, he had to prove himself.
“Trent! What are you doing in so late?”
Trent looked around to see his boss, Brad, standing at the entrance to his cubicle. “Same thing you’ve been doing, I’m sure.”
Brad was a man at least two decades Trent’s senior, who was never willing to reveal exactly how long he’d been with the company. His receding hairline and the scattered wrinkles on his face revealed it had probably been for a while, and his rounded belly bore the evidence of many late nights he himself had spent at the office. Brad tended to wear loose-fitting button-down shirts that obscured just how big his belly was, but at his weight, that required the shirts to be rather baggy. “I was in an all-day meeting, so I had to stay late to have any time to get anything done. And I know that’s not true for you, because I made sure you weren’t invited to that meeting and were spared being stuck in that hell hole. So why are you still here?”
“I’m just trying to finish these reports before tomorrow.”
“What, the weeklies? I don’t need those in my inbox until noon. You have plenty of time to finish those in the morning.”
“That may be true, but if I’m going to finish the reports for Michael too, I want to give myself all day to do it tomorrow.”
Brad paused before he could reply. “How did Michael rope you into doing his reports?”
“Oh I volunteered.”
Shaking his head side to side, Brad ambled into Trent’s cube and leaned on his desk. “Trent, I admire your ambition, I really do. But don’t you have, I don’t know… hobbies of some kind? Friends you’d like to see? Maybe a girlfriend or boyfriend?”
“That’s what the weekends are for,” Trent told Brad assuredly, even though he knew he was going to have to put in some hours that Saturday too.
“Hmph, you work enough of those.” Brad pushed himself off of Trent’s desk and turned back toward him. “You want to dive head first into this stuff, Trent, I certainly won’t stop you. It’s refreshing to see a new employee so driven to make a name for themselves.”
“Thank you,” Trent replied, eyes still on the computer screen.
Looking down, Brad was silent a while longer before he looked back up at Trent. “But… if you want to go down that path, don’t get too attached to that athletic frame of yours. Take it from someone who knows,” he concluded before giving his meaty belly a few audible thumps.
That was enough to get Trent’s attention, but by the time he looked up, Brad was already gone. Trent was far from the most muscular guy around, but he did take pride in his level of fitness and in managing to keep his weight steady as his friends widened around him. First it was the freshman 15, then it was all the stress eating during their more strenuous junior and senior years. Through it all, Trent managed to keep his weight level and never expand his waistline beyond a little bit of pudge that only became apparent when he sat down.
Trent had gone into the working world certain he could keep it up there. He brought all of his own meals into the office, and if he could get out early enough to hit the gym before they closed, he always did. And when he couldn’t, he had a backup aerobic routine he could do at home. Even with all the time he spent at the office, he was sure he could keep his figure trim. So he brushed off Brad’s comments and kept working, caring more about what his manager thought of his work ethic than of his figure.
It was around 7:30 when Trent finally put the finishing touches on his reports before emailing them to Brad. With a satisfied sigh, he turned off his computer and got up to go home for the day. But when he looked at the side of his desk, he was surprised to see a bag of potato chips. He knew he hadn’t bought them, and if Brad had left them there, he somehow hadn’t noticed until then. He thought he heard a giggle as he looked at the chips, but as he looked around, he couldn’t see anyone else at the office. Must’ve been the ventilation or something, he told himself.
Of course, Trent knew better than to eat the chips. He’d already eaten his dinner of an open-faced chicken sandwich, a salad with olive oil drizzle, and a single homemade chocolate chip cookie made with whole-wheat flour as an energy booster. There was no reason for him to even consider something with as many empty calories as chips.
On the other hand, it had been long day. Not much longer than most Thursdays, but Trent still felt like he’d earned a little treat. And he was reasonable enough to know that one single-serving bag of potato chips wasn’t going to derail his entire dietary regimen. Shaking his head side to side, he picked up the bag and tore it open, munching on the greasy snack as he walked out of the office.
Things didn’t get any easier for Trent. As he kept working, he was given the standard increases to his workload now that he was no longer a new employee. As he kept proving himself when he took on additional tasks, he kept being handed extra work to do. And he was so intent on proving himself that he didn’t feel at liberty to turn down any of it.
Trent’s late nights were only getting later, as staying until 8:00 was starting to become a recurring event. When he left that late, there was no chance of him getting to the gym in time to bang out a decent workout before they closed. Problem was, with how tired he was from his work, he couldn’t stick to his usual home aerobic regimen either. His workouts turned from a consistent habit to an every-other day activity to something he felt lucky if he could fit in once a week.
This chips, however, had turned into a habit he indulged as often as he used to work out. What started as a string of “just this once” indulgences turned into a fixture of his workday, something to look forward to when he couldn’t look forward to five o’clock the way so many of his coworkers did. Some days he’d find a bag of chips on his desk even when he couldn’t remember buying one. But those were usually the days when he was especially frazzled, and he found it easy to believe that he’d bought the chips from the vending machine and forgotten about them once he put them down.
On one of those frazzled days, Trent got up around 5:30 to retrieve his dinner from the fridge in the break room, steeling himself for another night at the office when he probably wouldn’t be leaving before 8:00. He spent about 30 seconds looking around the mostly-empty fridge before it finally dawned on him that he’d left his dinner at home. Since home was 45 minutes away in rush hour traffic, Trent had no hope of leaving the office at a reasonable time if he went home to get his dinner. But as his growling stomach reminded him, he needed to eat something.
Trent sighed at the door close in front of him, not sure what to do. The cafeteria was already closed, and there weren’t any places nearby where he could grab a quick bite to eat. It seemed like he stood no chance of leaving work at 8:00, until the refrigerator door closed and he saw the take-out menus stuck on it under magnets. Before, Trent would have balked at the idea of getting delivery, but now it was the only way he could keep working and not go hungry.
Trent took out his cell phone and ordered a small chicken sub, along with a house salad to make it to the minimum price for delivery. With his dinner taken care of, he went back to his desk to keep working, until his cell phone rang and the driver told him he was downstairs.
As Trent spun his chair to get up, he felt his stomach brush against his desk. It wasn’t especially painful, but it did make him aware of the newly acquired paunch he sported. He tried to put it out of his mind most days. He knew that belittling himself for slipping on his diet and workout routine wouldn’t make him any skinnier. If anything, the stress would probably make the problem worse.
But ignoring his weight gain certainly hadn’t stopped it. Trent now sported a belly about as big as that of any of his peers. His trim abdomen had filled in on the side, and his belly had rounded out in front, big enough that his old shirts didn’t quite fit anymore. His belly stuck out from him, but didn’t stick out in a crowd; among his coworkers and contemporaries, he blended right in. It was only in comparison to his old weight that his growth was really apparent.
Trent found the delivery driver waiting at the front desk, paper bag in hand. “Trent?”
“I got a house salad and a large chicken sub?”
“Uh… I ordered a small.”
“Huh…” Peering at the receipt, the driver confirmed, “Yep, and you were only changed for a small too. But this is the only chicken sub I have, so it’s yours if you want it.”
Trent heard a giggle after the driver finished talking. Looking to the side, he saw the night receptionist on her phone, and figured it was her. He knew he couldn’t spare time arguing details with the delivery driver, so he agreed to take the large sandwich and paid for his order. With a sigh, he brought it back to his desk to eat as he worked. As he ate, he told himself to not forget his dinner again.
It was about a year after Trent had started his new position. He’d finally been able to get a handle on doing all the duties his job required of him, but his status as a chronic yes-man meant he still found himself constantly working late nights. Even a year into his position, he still felt like he had something to prove, and taking on new challenges was how he intended to prove it.
The heavy workload meant Trent hadn’t made any of the improvements to his lifestyle that he promised himself he’d make. He stopped bringing his own dinners to the office, but he justified that by telling himself he’d leave early enough to make dinner at home. Of course, that rarely happened. Soon, getting dinner delivered became a habit as consistent as getting chips, and just as mindless. On particularly frenzied nights, he’d get a call around dinner time that someone was downstairs with delivery for him, having forgotten he’d even placed an order. It was a costlier habit than buying chips he’d forgotten about, but the money wasn’t a concern for him.
What did concern Trent was his ever-expanding waistline. His once modest tummy had turned into a respectable belly that didn’t quite blend in anymore. Now his round gut stuck out in front of him like a fluffy pillow under his shirt, albeit much more dense, demanding he change his stance as he walked to counteract the weight. His belly now had a jiggle to it as he moved, something he didn’t especially revel in. But like his growth itself, he tried to not think about it, knowing the stress wouldn’t help him in any way.
As Trent walked through the office around 6:30 one night, trying not to fixate on the bouncing of his belly, he passed the area where people always left leftover food after meetings. He’d intended to just refill his water bottle, but on the table in the center, he found a party size bag of chips and tub of dip. It was a strange sight to see. Usually when anyone left food in that area, it was gone nearly as quickly as they could put it out. And yet, the chips and dip were untouched. Trent reasoned they’d been left out late under the assumption they’d be eaten in the morning. Having finished his dinner, he also reasoned he could use something to snack on for the remainder of the night
Trent picked up the chips and dip and brought them back to his desk. He promised himself he wouldn’t eat them all, and when he was satisfied with how much he’d eaten, he’d close both and bring them back to the common area. But when 7:15 came and he’d finished the entire bag of chips, with much of the dip gone too, he couldn’t pretend he was all that surprised.
With a sigh, he crumpled up the bag and tossed it in his trash bin. He nearly did the same for the dip before he heard a giggle again. This time, he was sure of what he’d heard, and unsure where it could have come from. Curious, he turned around, expecting to see one of the younger interns walking by or something similar.
What Trent saw instead, he could not have expected. The source of the giggle was a group of grey blob-like creature, each about two feet tall, with big eyes and a vaguely human shape, like a cartoonishly anthropomorphized teddy bear.
“What the hell?”
“We’re the Munchies, and just relax,” the things chanted in unison. “We’re here to keep you stocked on snacks.”
“Snacks?… Are you… the ones who left the chips and dip out there?”
“Indeed, as well as before. We’ve been leaving you chips galore. And when you forgot, a take-out dinner, ensuring that you don’t get thinner.”
“Ensuring that I don’t… Wait, have you been… fattening me up?” Trent demanded, anger starting to rise in his voice.
“There’s no need to cause a fuss. ‘’Twas your actions which summoned us. Munchies go where we’re needed, finding those who must be fed. Often they be bored or blue, but that is not why we chose you. People munch through all their days, due to more than just malaise. We’ve watched you munch due to stress, and now you’ve eaten in excess. So we’ll keep you stocked with snacks and bites, so you can work all through the night!”
As the group finished their chanting, they passed along another party-size bag of chips, carrying it over themselves like a crowd surfer at a concert. “We’ve brought you more chips for your dip, so we can save you another trip.”. Once the Munchie in front held the chips, it extended them out toward Trent with wide eyes and an eager smile.
“And let me guess: if I run out of dip before I run out of chips, you’ll bring more of that too?”
A murmur of enthusiastic agreement swept over the Munchies as they nodded furiously.
Trent gave the grey blobs a suspicious look as he took the chips in hand. He half expected his hand to pass right through it, and the whole thing to have been a hallucination of his overworked mind. But the bag crinkled under his hand, and he was able to pick it up out of the Munchie’s grasp. When he opened it, he saw chips aplenty, certainly enough to last him the rest of his shift. “Alright. I certainly don’t mind being brought snacks.”
As Trent ripped the bag open, the Munchies jumped up and down, cheering and smiling widely. Trent gave them a polite smile back, but he knew that whether he was seeing things or not, he had a job to do. Putting the bag of chips next to him, he took one, dipped it, popped it in his mouth, and got back to work.
As strange of a sight as the Munchies had been, Trent managed to mostly forget about them and focus on finishing up his reports. He only briefly thought about them when they slipped out his empty dip container for a full one as subtly as they’d slipped him the chips before, and only when he noticed how he suddenly had far more dip.
It was when the Munchies slipped out Trent’s empty bag of chips for a full one that he paused. Looking toward the newly placed bag, it hit him that he’d eaten two party-size bags of chips all on his own, with dip to match, on top of an already filling dinner. With his attention off of his work, he was also struck by just how full he was. His belly pushed out and pushed his back straight up to make more room for the mass of starch and grease in his stomach.
“Why have you stopped in your tracks? We’re here to help, not to distract. We’re not here to break your flow; we’ve come here to watch you grow!”
Trent wasn’t sure what to think, but he centered himself when he remembered those reports weren’t going to write themselves. Shaking his head, he got back to work, snacking on the chips the whole way. He kept his mind on the task at hand, until all his reports were done to his satisfaction and he’d emailed them out. “Done,” he sighed as he hit send on the last email of the night.
And “done” described his eating as well, for the bag of chips and the tub of dip both lay nearly empty on his desk. With a grunt, he reached for both so he could throw them away. But as he tried to get up, he felt his stomach push back against him and he fell back in his chair. It wasn’t a familiar sensation for him, so he tried again, pushing through the pain until he could stand up again.
Once Trent was on his feet, he let out another pained sigh and absentmindedly stroked his stuffed stomach with his free hand. He didn’t relish how full he was, but the Munchies seemed to be enjoying it. “You did your work and ate with vigor. Keep it up and you’ll get bigger!”
“Don’t remind me,” Trent groaned as he shuffled out of his cubicle, dropping the final bag and tub in the garbage can. The Munchies scuttled out of his was as he walked, while the ones who weren’t moving looked at him with wide eyes and wider smiles. Trent was thankful to see that they didn’t follow him out of his cubicle. If they stuck around for anyone to discover them in the morning, it would be their problem.
Those folks who eat when bored or blue
Got nothing when compared to you.
You worked and focused on your job,
All while eating like a total slob.
As long as you don’t start to slack
The we, the Munchies, will be back!
The next day, Trent was relieved to find no signs of the Munchies’ presence in his cubicle. Even the bags and tub he’d thrown away were nowhere to be seen. Since the janitor had already emptied the trash bins by the time he left, he concluded it must have been the Munchies who cleaned it up. He had to give them credit for covering their tracks.
As soon as Trent sat down, he heard a knocking on the side of his cubicle entrance and looked up to see Brad. “Morning. Got a minute?”
After ambling closer to Trent, Brad started talking softly. “You didn’t hear it from me, but I think Peter is going to ask you to take on the nightly expense reports. It’s a pretty significant responsibility, but if you can do it, it’ll be a good way to move up here.”
With a smile, Trent said, “That’s exactly what I’m looking for.”
“Well, I wanted to come talk to you because if you take it on, it’s going to be mean a lot more late nights here, since the data for these reports don’t come in until the end of the day. So if you wanted to come in at, say, 11 AM, noon, however much later you end up staying at night, that’s totally fine.”
“I’ll… keep that in mind, thank you.”
Brad nodded and had nearly walked out of Trent’s cube before he turned around to say, “Oh, and you’ll have to start turning down some of the odd jobs you’ve been doing for people if you want to be able to do this too. Tell them you’re doing the nightlies and that should scare them off. If not, just send them to me.”
Trent chuckled as he assured Brad, “Will do.”
Brad gave Trent one final nod and smile before he turned out of Trent’s cubical. Only then did it strike Trent that he was now fatter than his manager. He was pretty sure they were wearing the same size shirt, but it looked loose on Brad. Trent was always lax on upgrading his shirt sizes, partly out of business, partly out of denial, and his shirt wrapped snuggly around his bulging midsection. His belly now stuck out far enough that he could no longer lean close to his computer screen the way he used to. His gut hit the desk before he could. If he stuck his arms down at the side of his body, he could use his love handles as arm rests. He was starting to wonder if he’d ever burn all that flab off. Either way, he was thankful that Brad hadn’t brought it up.
“Trent! How are you?” Trent turned around to see Peter, the director of finance, standing in his cubicle entrance. Peter was a man about Brad’s age, and probably a hundred pounds heavier. Whereas Brad wore his flab like a heavy carry-on bag, like an encumbrance to be ashamed of, Peter wore his bulbous stomach like a badge of honor. He always wore tight button-down shirts that accentuated the roundness of his gut, lifting and shaping it into an even more imposing spherical entity. From the side, his gut stuck out as far from his chest as the front of his chest stuck out from his back. And yet, his tie never deviated from the line of buttons in the front of the shirt.
“Fine, thanks. What brings you to my corner?”
With a smile on his face, Peter waved Trent closer to him and said, “Let’s go into my office and talk about it.” As Trent walked behind Peter, Peter strode ahead with his arms swinging at his side a good distance away from his abdomen. Trent could see Peter’s belly sway from side to side as they walked. And all the while, he stood tall, always letting his gut jut out and take up as much space as it needed
Once they got to Peter’s office, he laid out much of what Brad had told him to expect: he asked Brad to take on the nightly expense reports, told him it would mean working more late nights, and that it would make for a good opportunity to prove himself in the office. Trent didn’t need much convincing, as he’d already decided to go for it once Brad laid it out for him. After shaking hands on the arrangement, Peter told Trent he would start that night.
Trent spent the rest of the day tying up any loose ends on the odd jobs he’d been doing that weren’t part of his job description. With his new responsibilities on top of his regular duties, he was going to have turn down jobs more often if he were going to come in around 11:00 or noon like Brad had suggested and not be staying into the wee hours of the night. And on some level, he looked forward to that. Though he’d been working for a year, part of him still felt like that college student who didn’t like waking up before 10:00 AM.
Maybe it was the same part of him that was willing to accept free food. Around 6:00, when most of the office had cleared out, Trent was just starting his nightly reports when he heard that familiar giggling behind him. He turned around and saw the Munchies crowded behind him, all smiling. One of them held a wrapped sub sandwich in one hand and a box of mozzarella sticks in the other. Next to him stood a munchie holding corn chips and queso dip.
Trent couldn’t help but laugh to himself, though he tried to keep his voice quiet in case anyone was still around in the office to hear him. “This again?”
All the Munchies took on a confident expressional as they all nodded in agreement. “A filling dinner and plenty of snacks, so you’ll be productive to the max!”
Trent’s stomach growled, for he hadn’t eaten anything since a light lunch at a team meeting. “Alright. Let me have that dinner first, and keep the snacks coming. I have a lot of work to do.”
The Munchies all cheered in unison as Trent took the sub and mozzarella sticks in hand and got down to work. He wondered if anyone else in the office could hear the commotion caused by the little creatures, or in only he could hear and see them. Perhaps his coworkers could hear them, but didn’t want to ask questions. Either way, he opened the sub–meatball, with plenty of marinara sauce and melted cheese–and kept on working.
True to their word, the Munchies ensured Trent was well stocked on chips and cheese dip once he finished the sub and mozzarella sticks. He only finished two bags of chips, but with those chips, he managed to wolf down three heavy bowls of queso dip. The resulting meal was far more filling than the chips and dip of the night before, but as long as Trent remained fully engrossed in his work, he didn’t notice.
It wasn’t until Trent had emailed his finished reports to Peter that his attention gravitated to just how full he was. After hitting the send button, he leaned back in his chair with a groan and rubbed his belly, now firm from being full. This time, he didn’t even try to get up, knowing it would be in vain until he could get his bearings again.
The Munchies seemed to have some idea of how Trent felt, for two of them jumped up onto the armrests of his chair and put their plush hands on his stomach. Before he could ask what they were doing, they started rubbing his full belly, making him lean back in his chair with mouth agape. The sensation was almost unpleasant at first, as his stomach resented being prodded at all. But the soreness was soon replaced with relief, as a wave of relaxation emanated from the Munchies’ hands. It started in his crammed stomach and radiated out to the rest of his body, and nearly threatened to make him fall asleep.
Until Trent heard the sound of fabric ripping in front of him. Looking down, he reached his hand toward the front of his belly, making the two Munchies jump down in the process. He fingered the front of his belly and felt his finger touch his skin, and he realized he’d popped a button off his shirt. “Oops.”
The Munchies grew visibly excited at the sight of Trent having popped a button. “It seems your stuffed belly was prying, grew and sent the button flying. A shirt this small could never flatter a body like yours that’s growing fatter. Denying your growth would be unwise; we suggest buying a bigger size.”
“Alright, alright,” Trent interjected, still reclining in his seat.
“Or as you continue to grow, even more belly will show!”
“Bet you’d like that,” Trent teased, coaxing a giggle out of the Munchies. While he didn’t relish the idea of growing fatter himself, he couldn’t deny how much easier it was to stay in his flow and get his work done when he had a constant supply of food. If that was what it took for him to get his work done and move up in the office, he could get used to it.
Trent pushed himself forward several times, grunting all the way, until he was finally able to make it to a standing position. The queso dip felt very heavy in his stomach, making him feel like he’d in fact put on 10 or 20 pounds, rather than like he’d just eaten a lot of cheese. The weight made his steps much shorter as he hobbled out of his cubicle. At the very least, it was 8:30, and he could be sure no one would see him walking to his car in a shirt that was missing a button.
Another night with yet more snacks
Making sure you don’t turn lax.
You worked and ate and didn’t stop
Until you saw a button pop.
So just keep eating what our group brings
We know you’re bound for bigger things!
Trent had been working for about four years when Brad announced that he was quitting. He and his family were moving out closer to where his parents lived so he could take care of them in their later years. Much as he wished he could stay, he told his team it wasn’t fair to them to keep managing them while he was so far away and would have to take a plane make it into the office. So he stepped down, and when he did, no one seemed more primed to take his place than Trent.
Brad spent the last month of his tenure teaching Trent the ins and outs of management and what would be expected of him on the job. Taking a management position meant less hands-on finance work, but it also meant he could delegate those tasks to others. But he kept the nightly reports as part of his workload. He enjoyed the time he was able to spend largely alone and undisturbed in the office, and didn’t want to risk that by giving that work to someone else and cause them to consistently need to stay late.
On Brad’s last day, he ended the day chatting with Trent in his cubicle. They both stood inside, sipping sodas from Brad’s going away party and chatting.
“Man, to think all those years ago, I tried to discourage you from diving too deeply into your work. And now, if it weren’t for you, I’m not sure anyone would have stepped in to take my role.”
Trent remembered that conversation. He remembered Brad asking him if he had friends or a significant other he missed seeing. He remembered Brad eventually complimenting his ambition. Most vividly, he remembered Brad warning him that if he was going to be that dedicated to his job, he shouldn’t expect to keep his athletic frame for very long.
Four years later, Brad’s prediction had come true, probably more than he expected. As Brad stood with his respectable midriff, about the same size it was when Trent started working, Trent now dwarfed him. His belly had doubled in width, and stuck out in front of him to an imposing degree as well. It now bounced as he walked, and he took some satisfaction in the sensation. It made him feel bold as he moved, and he now strolled ahead with more confidence than he had when he’d started working.
“Hey, I’ve always wanted to keep myself challenged while I’m here. This is the next step in that. And, I mean, it’s a way to get my foot on the corporate ladder.”
“Mmm,” Brad responded contemplatively. “Well you certainly look the part,” he told Trent, looking down at his belly. Trent didn’t take it as a statement made in malice; more camaraderie than anything else. Perhaps even sympathy. But Trent didn’t need sympathy. He was proud of his belly, proud of all the late nights spent working that it took to build up a belly that big. It felt like more of an affirmation of all of his hard work than any sort of promotion could. On some level, he now felt like he understood Peter’s attitude toward his gut.
Trent’s first morning as manager was spent moving his things from his old cubicle to Brad’s old cube. As a manager, he now got a manager’s cubicle, with higher walls that meant his coworkers couldn’t see into his desk without walking into the cube or looking through it’s entrance. And given his location at the end of a row, no one came by unless they intended to see him.
That morning, one of those people was Peter. “You’re not Brad,” he said with a voice of mock concern, before he broke into a chuckle and extended his hand out. “Congratulations, Trent. Really happy to see you here.”
Trent thanked Peter as he took his hand to shake. Both men had to turn their voluminous bellies to the side to reach each other’s hands, something Trent took some pride in. It made him feel like he and Peter were peers, rather than being intimidated by his director (now boss) like he was before. Further boosting Trent’s confidence was the realization that he and Peter were about the same size; Peter merely held more of his weight in his stomach. It made Trent feel like he could one day get to Peter’s level.
But for now, he had a team manage. Once Peter left, Trent sat down at his computer and booted it up, only to find 15 new emails since he’d turned it off to move it. In his previous position, he never got more than two or three in that time. He made his way through them, answering questions to the best of his ability, but even there, he felt like he was faking it. And it seemed that every time he had to stop to reply to an email, a new one came in that demanded his attention. It was all a lot to deal with on a first day as manager, and Trent started to feel overwhelmed.
That was until he heard a shuffle next to his computer and looked down to see what looked like an appetizer sampler from a local take-out place: mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, pizza bites, and fried mac-n-cheese adorned the densely packed platter. It was all exactly the kind of comfort food he could have used.
Turning around, Trent saw the Munchies standing silently behind him, wide smiles on their faces. It brought a smile to Trent’s, and he leaned down close to the creatures to whisper, “Your timing is impeccable.”
“Any time you’re feeling stressed,” the Munchies chanted quietly, “we can make sure it’s addressed. When you need to feel renewed, we’ll be by to bring you food.”
After turning back toward his computer, Trent took a chicken finger in hand and took a bite before looking back to his emails. As he ate, he got into a flow with quickly parsing out which emails needed his attention and which ones didn’t, and writing quick but professional replies to the ones that did. As he finished the last pizza bite, his inbox had been entirely emptied, and he looked at it proudly. “Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.”
When you’re feeling stressed or tired, call on us, the Munchies.
We’ll find ways to make you too munch when you’re not hungry.
You were on the lowest rung, wanted something more.
Little could little you guess, just what was in store
We brought brain food aplenty, all throughout the night.
You devoured every bit, wolfed down every bite.
We know you’ll keep working hard as long as time allows
Just know your career belongs to the Munchies now!
Trent walked back from his third meeting of the day to his private office. As the director of finance, he now found himself in a lot of meetings, but his 11 years of working for the company had earned him a fair amount of respect, which made spearheading meetings and keeping them on track second nature.
Of course, when it came to commanding respect, his figure certainly gave him an edge. Trent now carried around a belly even bigger than Peter’s, something Peter couldn’t help but comment on in his last few years as director. “They’re going to think you’re my boss!” he told Trent once, when Trent had grown big enough that even with Peter’s belly-centric frame, it was clear that Trent was bigger.
And Trent didn’t stop there. Now he walked around the office with a belly big enough that passing him in the smaller cubicle hallways without grazing him was impossible. Thankfully for his coworkers, he could keep up a consistent pace as he walked, having acclimated to his weight over the years. Once he started moving, he could stroll on ahead as fast as any of his other coworkers, as long as they weren’t in a rush. But when he spent most of his time in his office or in meetings, it didn’t matter much anyway.
Trent’s belly certainly made it easy to make an impression when he met with people outside of the company. He was used to the wide eyes, the gawking, and the occasional open-mouth stares that marked his first encounter with someone new. Once they’d been introduced, however, he’d demonstrate his unwavering confidence and the fact that he had no shame or insecurity about his size. He had no hesitation in using his heft to make a point: puffing out his stomach to imitate a pompous person, tapping his belly with his fingers when he felt impatient, folding his hands in front of his stomach when he was content, and so on. And once his potential new client or connection realized he was confident in his size, they were forced to take him seriously.
Of course, those were the more outward-facing endeavours. In his own work, Trent depended a lot less on his belly and a lot more on what had put it on him.
When Trent, returned to his office, he closed the door behind him and sat down in his custom-width rolling chair, which creaked under his weight. He let out a lengthy sigh, a sigh that might make one think he was more stressed out by his day than he was. Of course, that was the point.
On cue, the Munchies appeared around Trent and filled his desk with filling foods: a large cheese pizza with thick enough crust to support extra, extra cheese; a steaming pot of penne alfredo; a roasted chicken; and a basket of breadsticks for snacking. “Perfect timing, boys,” Trent told the munchies as he looked over his fourth such feast that day. “It’s been a really stressful day. So many meetings.”
“Work and meetings may be dull, but now you can avoid the lull. If you’re tired and feeling crummy, focus again by filling that tummy!”
Trent couldn’t help but chuckle at the Munchies’ rhymes, as many times as he’d heard them before. After eating a forkful of penne, he turned to the side, picked up his keyboard, and plopped it down on top of his belly. It was the only way he could reach it now. With his mouse set up to his right and a slice of pizza in his left hand, he got down to work.
Working late was no new situation for Trent, but his nights weren’t so bad now that he was a director. Though he often had to stay later than 5:00, in comparison to his yes-man days, he felt spoiled now, because on most nights, he got out of the office by 6:00.
That particular night was not one of those nights. It wasn’t until around 7:00 that Trent finished his last business of the day. True to their word, the Munchies had kept him supplied with food the entire night, food he ate diligently to keep energized and focused. As always, it worked, up until he hit “Save” on his last report of the night. Then he was hit by just how full he was.
Trent leaned forward with a grunt to toss his keyboard back on the desk, feeling his belly roll over his knees as bent down. He then leaned back in his chair with a long groan, sliding his hand across his stuffed gut as he did so.
“No need to comfort yourself; let the Munchies massage your shelf.”
Before they had even finished their rhyme, two of the Munchies hopped up onto the armrests of Trent’s chair and started rubbing his belly. The relief made him lean back even farther until he couldn’t see over the top of his belly. All he could see was the two grey creatures pushing his massive mound with their soft hands. His flab gave way gently under their plush paws, as he let his head fall back with mouth agape.
Trent wasn’t sure how long the Munchies massaged his belly for, but eventually he felt the sensation stop. Looking up, he saw that all of the blobs, including the two on the armrests, had vanished. With a chuckle, he supposed he’d grown too relaxed to keep the Munchies around.
Trent swung himself back and forth in his chair before he was able to take a standing position again. Once he did, he let out a loud belch and patted his belly, still heavy with everything he’d eaten before. He waddled toward his office door, steps shorter and stance wider than usual, steeling himself to lug himself and his stuffed gut home.