Ah, it is lunchtime at the office, a designated time when you get to leave your worries and work behind for a brief moment of reprieve. The massive amount of coffee is no longer filling the nutritional needs of your over-stressed body. Some real substance is needed in your body to energize your mind, after all you have a busy afternoon finding all those new and exciting ways to slack off. Part of the daily ritual is to lock your personal items in the vault, umm, I mean desk drawer, and then loudly profess to all within earshot, “I am going to LUNCH!” This is usually followed by repeating the statement to everyone you pass in the hall on the way to your company’s designated “no work” zone called the cafeteria.
After the battle for the microwave has been waged, the quest begins for a private table that does not wobble like a tilt-o-whirl and upon successful conquest of said table, you settle in to respond to the book that has been calling your name- it is finally time for lunch. What better time than the mid-way point of the day to tune out the world and leave all the stress behind for just a short period of time? You breathe a sigh and settle in for lunch until you see the shadow blocking your reading light. If you ignore the person behind you they might go away. If only you had that kind of luck.
Then you hear the dreaded questions, “Hey, are you on lunch? I just have a quick question. Mind if I sit down? ” You wonder if the sandwich paused between your lips and spread of food-like items before you might have given them a little clue that yes you are at lunch. With only a brief hour of the day to get a break from the monotony of your job, why would they believe you would want to spend your time sitting across from them answering questions that most likely could be answered a mere 43 minutes from now?
As they sit uninvited across from you, you slowly lower the sandwich back down to the plate without a bite taken and give them the best “go away” look you can muster all the while mentally running through all the responses which could potentially get them to leave you to your lunch. Which responses should we pull out of the mental grab bag today?
- “I don’t mind at all. As long as you don’t mind me coming to your house when you are having sex with your wife and giving you an update on the request you are about to make. I hear from the last office party, that she really likes to put on a show for strangers.”
- “Lunch? Oh no, I was considering giving the sandwich to those kids on late night television. I always say, “Why give them 50 cents a day when you can give them a whole sandwich?”
- Closing your eyes tightly and muttering, “He isn’t real. If I ignore him, he will go away like all the other imaginary people. Oh I miss my meds.”
- “Sure have a seat.” As you slowly gather your stuff and walk away.
- “I am a little congested today. I hope you don’t mind my chewing with my mouth open.”
- “Am I at lunch? No, I usually sit in here with food in front of me to conduct my meetings. I find that it helps people to feel powerful when they can keep me from eating my food.”
- Reach across the table to grab their tie and wipe your mouth. “Thanks, we have been out of napkins.”
Most likely your lunchtime annoyance will continue to sit down not waiting for a response from you. However, with a few well-placed responses, you could eventually gain a reputation around the office, which will leave your future lunches free of disruptions. Just think of all the fun you can have tormenting them throughout the conversation they have wrought on you. A good rule of thumb is to remember all the manners your parents taught you and then do the opposite. Hopefully, you will get your point across.
In the end, your lunch is lost to a work conversation, though your co-worker is no doubt baffled by the smirk you have had on your face the entire time. It is time to look for a better place to have a little break. Maybe you could reserve a conference room to hide in while at lunch. Wait, there is a supply closet that might have room for a chair and tv tray. That sounds promising.
Until next time…