======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
Picture this, you have just sat down to your delightful meal of leftover pad thai. You carefully picked out an interesting article to read while eating, and have a true crime podcast playing in your ears as an extra distraction. You lean in to take your first bite of steaming hot noodles and… what’s that? It’s none other than Bob, from down the hall, who has just stopped in to chat. Chopsticks laid down, you resign yourself to the fact that you’ll now have to either eat while Bob chats about his crazy relatives, or you’ll have to reheat up your food 30 minutes later when he finally leaves.
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I absolutely hate when people interrupt my eat-at-my-desk (EAMD) lunchtime. Don’t get me wrong, I have work friends whom I go out to lunch with every now and then, and my office-mate and I will occasionally grab take-out and gossip about new TV shows or whatever is going on in our lives. I love having company (sometimes) during lunch, and it’s a nice break-up of the day. However, a lot of the time, I’m busy at work, and just want to grab a quick bite to eat at my desk without taking a full lunch hour. Just a little more “me time” where no one bothers me and I can Groupon search all the vacations I can’t afford.
Sometimes, I’ll even close my office door for good measure, but that doesn’t really seem to deter the engineers who inhabit my floor. Bob will waltz right in and start gabbing about his wife’s sister who’s living with them, political drama, and why the Bills are just so damn awesome. If I have my earbuds in, I’ll take them out and say, “sorry bob didn’t catch that, was eating my lunch”. Bob: “Don’t worry I’m happy to repeat it.” And the cycle continues.
For this article’s sake, it’s worth mentioning that I actually enjoy talking with Bob. He’s a cool retired military guy and has great stories. He frequently helps me with my fantasy football team, and I help him pick out anniversary gifts for his wife. However, not during my damn lunchtime. Even chatting during my morning coffee is more enjoyable than mid pad-thai foodgasm.
That is my time to be lazy. It is not my time that I have to sacrifice to Wanda a few doors down who likes to stop by and show me all her latest photography session photos. You know what Wanda? The lighting in your photo clearly hits the bride at just the right — leave me alone. My office-mate laughs whenever this happens because she’ll normally just go to the bathroom until Wanda leaves. The traitor. Or sometimes, I’ll just eat while I daydream out the window, staring at the sad Anacostia and the sucker crew teams that row down it every day, probably wishing they were somewhere eating wings and burgers.
I feel like it should be well known that lunch breaks are sacrosanct. There are a few folks in my office who will stop by when I’m indulging in the nutrients of the Gods, see that I’m eating, and say “Oh my bad, I’ll come back later.” And to those folks, I say: Bless you. This is the appropriate response when you see you interrupted someone enjoying a favorite pastime of the American corporate workforce: stuffing your face with grub. I’m not sure where the habit came from of yakking away while some poor soul tries to figure out how to eat their lunch while responding “mmhm wow sounds crazy” to whatever story they’ve been trapped into hearing. This is borderline dentist behavior — you know when the dentist has tools in your mouth but asks how your rec league sports team is fairing? And I will not stand for it.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, if there is an actual emergency like a fire, a hurricane, or an actual work problem that cannot possibly wait 30 minutes, then, by all means, pry the chopsticks from my hands and push me out the door. Think of it as a Ron Swanson rule. Would you interrupt Ron Swanson while he was chowing down on a porterhouse and potatoes at his desk? The answer is a resounding: no, you would not. You would back away slowly and throw Slim Jims as you left.
I’ve even resolved the age-old problem of answering the phone while you eat. Whenever I see a forsaken work call coming in during lunch, I’ll normally answer it (because I don’t want to get fired), and then shortly after say “Oh gosh, someone just walked in with an answer I’ve been waiting on, can I call you back in a few?” Almost always they say sure, I eat my lunch, and call them back in 20, explaining how the “person” who walked in took so long. They’ll laugh and say “Sounds like a Monday” and all is good. My food got eaten, they got their answer, and I’m now in a coma at 1 p.m.
I work in a profession where I have to be more social than I’d hoped for and to maintain that façade of my personality, I’m going to need food. In addition, by chatting during my EAMD, you are delaying my food stuffing. This only leads to hangry-type behavior, and I prefer to leave that to out-of-office moments.
I’m realizing now perhaps I need a sign on my door. One that says, “Feel free to enter, I’ve received nutrition today” or “You shall not pass you meal-interrupter”. The fact of the matter is that at least once a week, my lunch will get interrupted, and there’s not much I can do to prevent that. I just hope that perhaps the next time you see a coworker chowing down on their lunch like it’s their final death row meal, you think twice about shooting the shit and come back at the sweet spot of later afternoon, when no one wants to work anyways..