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There’s a stigma attached to lone wolfing your lunch break. You’re supposed to be a part of a power lunch crew that sneaks a Mich Ultra at Twin Peaks every now and then, right? A group of bad boys who take off 5 minutes early to beat the rush at B-dubs and take in Le Batard with the sound off. But that’s not how it plays out. That group dynamic is a fickle beast, and more often than not you’re left fending for yourself.
I do my best work while staring out of a window at Chipotle. It took a little while to get used to, but the shame and dishonor once attached to one man-one lunch are no longer. For my 9 dollars, these are the pros and cons of your lone wolf options.
In the car.
On paper, the car lunch appears to be the most pathetic. I’ll admit that it’s the lunch most likely to garner a, “Hey is everything okay?” message should someone you know see you. That’s why it takes a level of confidence seldom found in the just out of college crowd. No, this is a move for the seasoned vets. It’s a dangerous game. One wrong move and you’re looking at a taco grease stain that will potentially derail your entire afternoon.
But for me, the car lunch is a personal favorite. It has all the benefits of eating inside of a restaurant by yourself, but without the baggage of human interaction. Most importantly, your old friends AM radio and podcast are right there to help you pass the time. The only logistical consideration you’ll need to consider is where.
Are you a Chick-fil-a parking lot guy, or an office complex person. That debate has raged on for years. I’ve always been a big believer in the road game. It gives you the variety you need to stimulate the brain, and more importantly, it exponentially decreases the likelihood that you’ll make awkward eye contact with someone you work with.
At your desk.
If you’re looking to take in calories while at the same time putting out a grind boy vibe, this is the lone lunch for you. This style gives you the option to casually get some work done, but in reality you’ll end up diving into a VICE article about white board manufacturers taking opioids in Belize. It has its function, though. If you need to adjust your perception around the office a little bit, this is the next best thing to skipping lunch altogether. But it’s not for everyone.
The desk lunch fails to provide the necessary mental detachment from the grind that let’s you start fresh in the afternoon. Even if you’re not actually working while you sadly fling lettuce shreds all over the carpet from the sandwich disgrace that is Jimmy John’s, you’re still right there where it all goes down. And you will magically find that lettuce for weeks, if not months. It cannot be cleaned.
Picnic table in your office complex.
Pro: It’s a nice day.
Con: You definitely killed someone.
In the break room. Alone.
When you die, do you want to be remembered as a break room guy?
It’s a question every person should ask themselves. While practical on its face, eating alone in the break room is a cry for help. Nothing says “please talk to me” like someone desperately spooning out lukewarm fettuccine alfredo from a Rubbermaid Flex and Seal. You could have just done this at your desk, but instead, you chose to interject yourself into lives of any poor soul who just wants to grab a greek yogurt.
Remember, break rooms are where they WANT you to eat. It’s why they were created. Bad boys don’t eat in the break room.
Inside the restaurant.
Wireless headphones are changing the way we think about solo restaurant lunches. Just last week, we ran into a Touching Base listener going lone wolf while taking in the podcast (true story; he told us). Shoutout to that guy. But traditionally, many have avoided being the solo dining for fear of looking and feeling like a loser. A failure. A disgrace. A pariah. Not anymore.
Perhaps the most confident action you can take on a lunch break is to post up at a local hotspot. It’s a move that says, “I will be served today.” With apologies to #teamcarlunch, planting your flag at a four-seater in the middle of the lunch rush is the most liberating experience you may ever have. It’s the lunch equivalent of not putting on pants to retrieve the paper. If it were an Instagram, it would be Cutler going ass out for the haters. Jay’s as free as a bird now, and you will be too.
Image via Shutterstock