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At around 12:15 p.m. Thursday afternoon, I strolled into the office break room — brown bag in hand — pulled back a plastic blue chair from one of the counters, dropped a turkey and American cheese sandwich on the table and sat down for “lunch.”
Some coworkers rustled through in the 12 minutes I sat there, in silence, consuming self-constructed garbage. We exchanged pleasantries as they heated up frozen Trader Joe’s meals in the microwave — nodding in resignation over the crumminess of life.
The sound of tupperware popping open echoed and the stench of leftovers clouded what was already a dark and depressing environment. Workplace compliance posters and signs begging me to ‘wash [my] dishes before putting them in the dishwasher’ towered overhead and water drizzled from the cooler like an elephant taking a late night piss behind the bar. Small talk about weekend plans and weather forecasts (instead of the good gossip shit, like Amy’s divorce) sullied what had become a modestly miserable experience.
In that moment, biting into a 15-hour-old turkey sandwich hastily slapped together in my kitchen the night before, I questioned the existence of God.
There is no amount of money — large or small — that should ever bar you from going out to lunch.
An out-of-the-office lunch break is essential for the human soul. In the morning, it is something to look forward to. Something to smile about. In the afternoon, it is something to reflect on. Something to reminisce about. No matter where you sit on the company org chart, you should be capitalizing on a lunch break every single day by leaving the office and going to eat somewhere else.
Have a shitty project due this week? Fuck it, we are going to Fuddrucker’s today. Boss being a hardass about some deadline you missed because you were hungover after trivia? Who cares? We are getting tacos for lunch. You can’t put a price tag on sanity and mental health, and bringing your lunch to work to save money is a surefire way to develop a brain tumor. Think about how much that’s going to cost later on in life, huh? Not that it will matter. By then, after thousands and thousands of shitty turkey and cheese sandwiches, you’ll be ready to die.
I’ve seen men — great men — sink into a deep depression because they were forced to pack their lunch for work. Men who would have been warriors and Gods in a past life sporking at a plate of leftover chicken spaghetti because rent is due next week and they can’t afford not to eat it. Each bite followed by an audible sigh so sorrowful tears swell up in your eyes. These are broken men — and no matter how much you want to help them, you know there is nothing you can do. Brown bag lunches are self-inflicted wounds.
This is an epidemic affecting millions of people every day. It kills you slowly — like cancer — and is terminal — like ALS. But there are no ice bucket challenges or NFL branded months dedicated to raising awareness around the issue. It has no official color and no official catchphrase. Celebrities don’t want to align themselves with something so ugly, as it could devastate even the strongest personal brand.
But someone has to talk about it. Someone with bravery and courage to speak up for the weak and the broken. We need to start a dialogue.
My challenge to you: Go home today and open your refrigerator and throw away all of your lunch meat, your leftovers, your lean cuisines. Sit down with an accountant and hammer out a budget that allows you to spend up to $15 a day on lunch. I promise you, it will be mentally and physically rewarding — like deleting your Facebook or winning $100 at trivia.
It doesn’t matter if you have to take out another student loan or find a second job to fund your new lunch spending habits, when it is all said and done, you’ll be happy you did it. You can’t afford not to do it.
I know it sounds extreme. But this is the biggest issue we face as a nation today. Greater than disease, social justice issues and clean drinking water combined. If we come together to combat this, we will leave a legacy our children can actually be proud of. Isn’t it worth it to try?.
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