Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Five Stages of Lunchroom Grief....

Do you remember those job interviews, especially in the 1990's where you would sometimes be asked if you were an animal, what would you be? If I were asked that question but with "in the lunchroom" tacked on the end, I'd have to say I'm a bit of a Rottweiler because when it comes to food, I'm a teensy bit possessive of it at meal times and rather single-minded about it. If Julian and I order take out, I always get my own dish because I don't like to share (I recognize how sad that is). When I'm eating, I generally don't like a lot of chit chat or to be touched.  I also don't like a lot of noise or distractions during meals. When I'm eating, I like to EAT and fully immerse myself in the experience. 

This about sums it up.

In any workplace I've ever been in, I find the lunchroom setting - particularly in offices - kind of a crap shoot that some days I can handle, other days I can't. I won't eat lunch at my desk because it's a lousy habit not conducive to enjoyment. But the staff lunchroom can be just as off-putting at times so I have to gauge my mood or pick a different time to eat if I'm not feeling up to dealing with the five stages of lunchroom indigestion.  

#1. The Inquisition
There's always the people in the lunchroom who want to ask you 10 million questions about what you're eating because for some reason they find it infinitely interesting: Whad'ya have there? Did you make that? Do you always bring your lunch? Are those chickpeas? Do you cook a lot?  Is that from a recipe? Is it spicy?  It looks spicy.  Do you like spicy food? I can't do spicy.  Are you eating that cold?  Is it good? Does that fill you? Did you put salt on there? Do you eat that everyday?

It gets to a point where you're just nodding and saying yes with your head while silently screaming, "PLEASE SHUT UP AND LET ME EAT IN PEACE" with your eyes, which they never see anyway 'cause they're too busy looking over your damn food. 

"I hate everyone at this table."

#2. The Commentary
As much as it pains me to generalize my own gender because men definitely do this too, women are the worst for this. In their defense, when chronic dieting and shame-based eating have been drilled into your head your entire life, I understand where it comes from.  However.  If you do this, man or woman, please stop: I do not have to justify my food choices to you.

Occasionally I buy my lunch as a treat or because we've run out of groceries. Sometimes I go to Harvey's for a burger or sometimes I get a burrito. As soon as I walk into the lunch room with a fast food bag, there's always someone who pipes up with:

''Ooooh, I see you're being bad today."  

Alternately, if I buy a salad for lunch:

"Ooooh, I see you're being good today."

Please, please fuck off with these comments.  I beg of you. They are annoying and judgemental and trust me, unless you really want to talk about good and evil food choices with a vegan, hold your tongue (though these comments were still annoying-as-shit when I was a meat and dairy eater).

"It's a burger and fries, people.  Deal with it."

#3. The Comparison
Those that are intensely interested in your lunch will inevitably follow it up with how it relates to their own tastes and lifestyle, which I've touched on before.  For example:

"Is there cabbage in that?  I can't eat cabbage - it gives me a stomach ache."

"That's homemade, eh?  I don't really cook."

"That bread looks good, what kind is it? Pumpernickel?  Oh, my kids would probably hate it."

"Are those leftovers?  We already had leftovers this week - I couldn't do them again today."

In the words of Jon Lovitz from A League of Their Own: Well thank you for that extra special glimpse into your life.  Could I just eat my lunch now?

My face exactly.

#4. The Assumptions
This is particularly acute on the aforementioned "bad" days where people feel the need to explain what I/they will need to do to justify my own meal.  This too hearkens back to the obsessive body image so I try to be understanding but it really is too much sometimes.

"Oh, I see we're having __________ today! Well, it's the long weekend, right? It's allowed."

Thanks. I didn't realize I needed an occasion or your permission to enjoy what I'm about to eat.

"That looks good. Well, you're tall, you can eat that. I couldn't - it would go straight to my hips."

Oh for cryin' out loud. Please don't make assumptions about what I can and can't eat based on how I look to you. I don't eat based on my height and how I appear really has nothing to do with the actual status of my health anyway. Mental middle finger rising!

"Do you work out? You must to be able to eat that. You're lucky."

Yes, I am lucky to be able to eat food and I would like to enjoy the experience without it being tied to if/when/how much I may or may not exercise. Now please - either change the subject or make like a bread truck and haul buns (I must be due for a viewing of A League of Their Own).

"You know, if I pulled the fire alarm, everyone would have to evacuate."

#5. The Conclusion
After the first four steps are complete and the meal has been analyzed, correlations have been made, opinions conveyed, scenarios presented and your meal has been seasoned with a dash of guilt, the data is presented to you in one obvious and unwarranted conclusion:

"Well, 'ya gotta eat right?"

Bottom line is, the lunchroom is a great place to get to know your coworkers, including the ones to avoid over lunch hour.

Enjoy your lunch today.  I mean that!

1 comment:

  1. Although eating at your desk I agree is not good in that you are not getting away from work/phone, it is good in as much as you can avoid all the dumbass comments (all of which you covered I think) in a lunchroom setting. Mostly, I have been fortunate enough to have an office so I could close the door to keep out people who want to chat. Maybe I'm just anti-social or at best un-social at certain times but I think with the constant clamour of work/interaction it is good to have time alone, especially during lunch break.