Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lunch on the Lam

There was a time when I faithfully brought lunch to work. It was economical, and it saved driving, and it seemed vaguely virtuous. But I noticed, gradually, that never leaving campus made me batty. It felt like house arrest.

On the days when I leave campus for lunch – and honesty compels me to admit that that’s most days now, except for days with lunch meetings – I don’t get that ‘trapped’ feeling. Even the cafeteria doesn’t really do the job, since I’m still very much on stage there. I have to actually get in the car and drive someplace physically separate and distinct. Just changing scene – even if it’s only a mile or two away – keeps me sane.

Sanity is good – the world could use more of it, frankly – but money is money (and calories are calories). I can’t really bring a bagged lunch into a restaurant – they get kind of picky about that – and outdoor settings (parks) are weather-dependent. Since it’s been raining for what seems like years now, anything outdoors is either soaked or steamy. Neither particularly lends itself to going back to the office. And eating in the car is just sad.

As a card-carrying introvert, a little alone time at lunch helps me recharge the batteries. I know it’s anathema to admit that in a culture that uses ‘network’ as a verb, but it’s true. I’m more balanced and more sane in the afternoon when I’ve had a brief respite in the middle of the day.

So, a question for my wise and worldly readers. Surely some of you have faced similar dilemmas. Have you found good places for bringing lunch on the lam?