My daily lunch break provides respite from mind-numbing meetings, endless annoying interchanges with colleagues* and the general cacophony that is my day-to-day existence. There has been a frightening trend of late – regularly scheduled “brown bag lunch” meetings – and i must take action. Nine – ten hours without escape will destroy my remaining nerve.
My Friday two-hour drinking lunch has been replaced with a weekly “seminar” – mandatory persecution and torment professional development coursework. This will continue through late November, unless the seminar group disbands in a fit of salivating rage at the injustice wrought from far above our pay grades.
Another “informal brown bagger”** has encroached on my Tuesday lunch hour… Within the organization, there are eight of us with a common job function. Four of us fully comprehend what is expected of us. The other four special needs children individuals argued for a weekly communal lunch – to “share best practices” and “develop common vision” – both phrases that strike fear in the heart of a burnt out, cynical seasoned professional.
And the latest? A Monday meeting, every other week, with a group of young, impressionable colleagues – where i am one of the old fucks “mentors” shaping their professional development, sharing hopes and dreams and imparting useful nuggets of wisdom from my playbook. Seriously, do you expect me not to be cranky on Monday without a dirty martini in my hand?
The loss of my lunch hour is bad enough. Even scarier? Being too lazy disorganized to bring suitable food from home, i am at the mercy of our in-house cafeteria, lovingly named The Ptomaine Palace. While the helpful tapeworm to assist me with my weight loss goals lurks in the pantry, i would like to avoid contracting something that will lead to a massive colon blow during an afternoon meeting. There are some incidents in the workplace from which there is no recovery.
On a good day, i dive on the pre-packaged food – yogurt and fresh fruit are sometimes available if i get there early enough. By mid-week the salad selection is somewhat dessicated – but will do if i’m in the mood for lettuce with the texture of old chewing gum. The soup is always dicey – recycled lumps of mystery meat bobbing on the surface of grey broth nearly sweats dysentery.
For now there is only one option. Get organized. Pack that lunch. And include a flask… i am supposed to be setting an example for the young ‘uns. Being resourceful? Priceless…
* An example? The senior scientist who will appear in my doorway exactly one minute after i receive an e-mail from him. He then says “I sent you an e-mail… ” and proceeds to tell me what was in it. For thirty minutes.
** Not to be confused with at “tea-bagger”. We have those too. One particular supply closet is rumored to need weekly disinfection…
Oh daisyfae. While I have not yet been subject to lunch time “brown baggers”, there has been an alarming increase in the number of my colleagues holding meetings over the lunch hour, ostensibly due to conference room availability. But, whatever. I’ve established a routine of heading home for lunch on most days (despite what a bad example that is for the young ‘uns, but I rationalize that it’s better than me poisoning their minds with the ramblings of an over-the-hill has been) and I’m not likely to give that up unless we move further away.
I have never been one to really socialize with my co-workers. More often than not, co-workers have been somewhat shocked, or at least taken aback, when encountering the “real” me.
Your descriptions of your cafeteria are pretty bang-on and reflect my own experiences. I only eat at the on-site caf as a last resort and if I’m really pressed for time.
I don’t want to know anymore about that particular supply closet…
At least those lunches aren’t imposing on your morning hot toddy and afternoon vodka bracer…oh, and remember — Gin…it’s what’s for breakfast.
As a worker, all I have to sell to my employer are my time and my expertise. If I take from my employer a paperclip, a pen or a ream of paper, I am stealing his property from him and deservedly I am fired! Yet my employer can steal my time and expertise from me by “expecting” an extra hour here or there with no penalty at all! And we are expected to smile while we are being robbed of our property!
lambanog would be better..
rob – Going home at lunch? This is a GREAT example for the young ‘uns! Teaching them to keep the “work-life” balance heavy on the “life” side is the most important thing we can teach them!
wanderer – Shhh…. You know too much…. and thank god you can drive after a pitcher of gin and tonic!
archie – i got sucked into the contributed overtime a few years back. often tucking in my children and returning to the office to work 9pm-midnight just to stay on top of the work piles. Pish-to-that-shit! Although i still work the extra hours, they are fewer, and often worked from home in my underoos!
jonathan – Welcome to The Park! I had to look up lambanog – and it sounds delicious! Perfect for my afternoon siesta/coffee break!
My boss loves having impromptu lunchtime meetings. The only way to avoid them is to be somewhere else. Or hide under the desk, but that’s murder on my neck.
Oh christ. I’ve just been asked to be a mentor.
I always tried to avoid eating with my fellow teachers. It was hard to listen to some of them and then not call Child Protective Services when I watched them head back to rooms full of other people’s children. Seriously, some teachers are a demented lot who shouldn’t be allowed around children unsupervised. It’s the Gitmo know one talks about.
I have a similar issue. My boss expects me to have lunch with her every single day simply because she’s lonely and I’m the “only” one she can talk to. When I’ve made other plans, I get a pout and the silent treatment. And then when I say I can have lunch the next day with her, I get “Ooh, you’re going to grace us with your presence!”.
In addition, I have to carry the conversation or else we just sit there.
Ugh – I hate my lunch hour.
In my last job, I always took a proper lunch break, even if it was just for 30 minutes to get away from my desk. Now, my timetable’s rubbish, and two days out of five I have classes between 12 – 2pm. By the end, I am almost ready to eat my own hand, and I often end up letting the students go early just because I’m so hungry. I know I should probably eat something before I start, but it just seems so uncivilised to eat so early!
kyknoord – bring garlic, day-old sushi and cheese that smells like urine. guaranteed method – works every time!
dolceii – you would be a spectacular mentor! three or four sweet, attractive young men… teach them to write those [ahem] special stories you write? there will be lines forming outside your office!
annie – scary thought! i suppose that over time, teachers do face a special form of burnout. hopefully it’s just a coping mechanism… brrr….
heartbreaktown – Welcome to The Park! That’s a scary boss… you could try the “garlic and old fish” approach, but i suspect it won’t work. She sounds like a textbook case of “passive-aggressive”… Ick…
cat – any chance you could ‘graze’? bringing packable snacks along with you? although filling your pockets with cereal, granola bars and bananas might get some odd rumors started…
Oh no. The sweet young things are *too* young, even for my evil tastes. *sigh*
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