With Special Guest Appearance by Leah, Flat Amy, and Vivian
Growing up we didn’t eat lunch on the Roy farm. There was dinner and there was supper (We weren’t big breakfast people). In college I got into an argument with Rob Smith because he kept insisting the evening meal was “dinner” and the afternoon meal was “lunch.” There was no Internet to settle the argument in those days, so we eventually agreed to disagree. But to be honest, I always thought a little less of Rob after that because, seriously, the man didn’t know what his meals were called.
Time marches on and now it turns out Rob’s view won out. These days the only time you’ll hear about suppertime is if you’re attending a high school production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
Thanks to its status as the afternoon meal, lunch usually coincides with work. At the newspaper, lunch was a pretty loose affair. You went when you wanted and you stayed out as long as you wanted. No one was keeping track or cared. As long as you met deadline and kept the presses running on time, nothing else mattered. Those were the glory days.
At my next job lunch was not a temporary escape valve. You could take as long as you wanted for lunch, but you had to spend it with the person(s) you were supporting. And that often meant supporting them in eating their lunch. Lunch at the center began promptly at 11:30 (earlier if you had the bowling group).
Eating lunch with a room full of developmentally disabled adults is not a pretty sight. I remember one day, early on, I was sitting at a table trying to eat and surveying the scene around me. Annie looked over, smiled and said, “You get used to it.”
At my current gig you can take lunch whenever and for however long you want, but you have to clock out on your computer when you leave and clock back in when you return. So if you spend an hour for lunch, you’re going to need to make up that hour later. As a result, I don’t take lunch hours. My life makes it too time prohibitive.
Have I ever mentioned that I have a son with autism? Maybe once or twice. Anyway, one of the downsides of the condition is you never get rid of them and someone always needs to be there to watch them. All you empty nesters out there who whine when your child goes off to college and leaves you all alone for a couple of months — I hate you.
My son attends an adult day program that begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m. Those hours are not entirely helpful to working parents. And there is no before- or after-program programming (if you’re an entrepreneur who’s looking for something to do, I suggest you open one). As a result, we hire someone to watch Andrew in the mornings before program and briefly in the afternoons. I get up at 6:30 a.m., get to work at 7:30 a.m. and leave work at 3:30 a.m. Laura takes care of him in the morning, I take the afternoon shift.
In order to take a lunch hour I would need to get up at 5:30 a.m.
In my world there is no 5:30 a.m.
So when Vivian and Leah invited me to join them for lunch on Tuesday, I politely declined. Then while driving to work that morning I realized I had forgotten to get my sandwich out of the refrigerator. This meant all I had to eat was a bag of chips and a cookie. I concluded that this was fate — or my subconscious – telling me I should take a break from work and get out of the office for a bit.
Leah wanted Mexican and Vivian suggested El Maguey and I’m a fan of their No. 4 lunch special so as soon as the staff meeting was over we headed out the door. Amy was on vacation so we took Flat Amy along in her place.
We’re driving along and some truck blows past us and straight through a red light. We catch up with them at the next red light. Leah wants to confront the driver but I argue that just because his truck isn’t riddled with bullet holes does not mean we should antagonize him. After all, he’s already shown his contempt for traffic laws and all we have to protect ourselves is a rock. Viv helps Flat Amy wave at the driver, who no doubt cannot wait for the light to turn green.
Lunch was relaxing, tasty and uneventful — aside from the lady who was being loud and rude to her grandchildren. Leah wanted to intervene but I pointed out that we didn’t even have our rock with us and maybe she should stop wanting to be so confrontational.
When we returned to the office I discovered that I would now need to make up 1 hour and 3 minutes. As luck would have it, Andrew and Laura were off Friday so I could make up the time then. I still spent the rest of the week complaining to Leah about how she had upset my schedule. She wasn’t the least bit sorry.
Neither was I, to be honest.