A Story of Lunch Breaks

This is how my office life works.

I get in precisely 13 minutes late every morning (a mix of unfortunate company shuttle timetables and my need to press snooze exactly six times before I finally crawl out of bed, don’t ask). I throw my backpack under the desk, then run to my supposedly super-duper-secure-but-I-suspect-it’s-made-of-recycled-cardboard locker to get my laptop. Yes, we all dutifully lock our laptops, magic mice, broken staplers and strawberry scented hand lotions before we leave the place in the evening. It’s company policy they say, though I suspect it’s exclusively based on everybody’s reluctance to leave their belongings unguarded when there’s a sticky-fingers Romanian (yours truly!) roaming free on the premises.

Valuable hardware finally plugged in and my hands freshly covered in strawberry flavoured pomade, I eventually deign to go over my inbox, check the outpour of life changing stuff people are posting on Facebook, and dive into the ever informative online tabloids. I know, I know, I’m not the psycho-hard-working bumblebee you all fantasized I was??? Oh, the horror!

The truth is that my super duper exciting project has recently been finalized and delivered. And yes, it’s been crazy hard work and I’ve had my someone-please-bludgeon-me-with-my-keyboard moments throughout, but that doesn’t really explain why these days everybody seems to think that I deserve a bit of a break, and they haven’t given me anything new to sink my teeth into. So recently, my day to day geeky adventures in the office have made room for endless, soul-wrenching, pure boredom.

By 10:15 in the morning, I’m already bored out of my mind and looking forward to the few distractions of the day: slow paced trips to the water cooler, a minor bug getting everybody deliciously frantic for half a second or so  (talking about website bugs here, people, no self respecting insect would waste its time buzzing around our bore of an office!), and lunch breaks.

Lunch break is when I get to walk out of the building and stroll down the parking lot for a minute long, car fume flavoured trip to the office canteen. People walk around said parking lot carrying piping hot plates and sharp cutlery back to their screen topped desks (why eat with others in a purposely designed, food spillage friendly space, when you can rush back and stuff yourself in front of your Facebook feed?), you run into really fit looking fellows, plates filled with mountains of mayonnaise drenched chips and end up hating your leaf-eating-yet-somehow-still-fatty self, it’s wonderful.

Now, this repetitive, tasty, it-finally-feels-like-I’m-doing-something-even-if-it’s-only-chewing canteen adventure would be the happiest time of my day, except for the fact that the entire staff, most of my fellow eaters, and I suspect the canteen furniture as well, hate my guts.

It’s not even my fault, you know. I’m a no fuss, always-chew-with-your-mouth-shut kind of gal. But I’ve had the bad luck of going to lunch accompanied by absolutely crazy people, and I’m now being labeled crazy myself by association.

Take Paul for example. Now, he may be one of my regular fellow lunch buddies, but he really shouldn’t be allowed to eat in public places. And I’m not talking about a fun and games, informal interdiction. Nope. There should be a law, an actual law preventing Paul from ordering and consuming food outside of his own kitchen.

He’s the kind of person who will take half an hour to order a burger. Remember Meg Ryan’s character in When Harry Met Sally? (most of you are probably to young for that reference, but anyway) Well, Paul is psycho Meg Ryan times six when it comes to ordering food. He needs all beansprouts picked out of his stir fry with special tweezers, and dutifully disposed of in a perfectly sealed, ozone layer friendly container. He needs his onion rings to be precisely 1.4 inches in diameter and to be fried into perfection until they’ve reached the one and only acceptable onion ring color, GoldenRod, or, for geeky Web Design connoisseurs like himself, #DAA520. His chips need in no circumstances touch his peas, and would ideally be imported from different continents and cooked in separate kitchens, in Evian water held at room temperature sixteen days in advance. Well, you get the picture. Every. Chef’s. Nightmare.

My other lunch partner is David. Now David, he may look like a regular guy from afar, but he is the clumsiest, most dangerous to society and to himself person you’ll ever meet. He must have dropped and smashed at least a dozen plates in the few months we’ve been having lunch together. He leaned over the soup bar (to better inhale the flavours, of course!), and his glasses fell off his nose and into the soup pot. Twice! Have you ever tried dragging around the tallest, most badly coordinated human being? Through a cramped canteen during lunch hour rush? While his glasses are covered in steaming tomato soup? No piece of cake, I tell you.

Apart from the soup incidents though, David has had a plethora of cutlery induced burns, cuts and bruises, and just a couple of weeks back he stumbled over his own two feet and fell against the open salad bar, smashing the glass panel above it  to pieces and making the entire canteen unusable for the rest of the day. No one really cares for food and a side of glass chips, thank you very much.

Now, thankfully, David’s managed not to kill anybody, or himself (yet!), and Paul has still got a bit to go until he turns the staff and fellow queuers completely suicidal, but my association with them crazy people has definitely affected my previously immaculate canteen status.

I walk in, the calm before the storm, the bearer of bad tidings. They hide the knives, bring out the first aid kits, the super absorbant kitchen towels, light a bunch of zen friendly incense sticks and start praying for strength. They give me the stink-eye, of course, and the smallest, greasiest portions, which is fair enough I suppose.

Always super duper, glass-half-full optimistic as you know me, I’m hoping all this will shape me into a stronger (and slimmer!) version of myself, so I have yet to dump my reliably psychotic lunch partners and try solo eating. Am I a good friend or what?

Lunch was rather miraculously uneventful today, but David and I are off to the cash machines soon, so if I don’t post anything in the next couple of days, he’s probably gotten us both kidnapped and/or dismembered. In which case I’d better take this opportunity and wish you all Easter celebrating people Happy Holidays, and everybody else a lovely, sunny, mishap free weekend!

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