Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Lunch on the Lam
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?
I usually drove to a local park, and weather permitting, ate lunch on a bench or on the grass. If the weather was not cooperative, I just ate in my car. Sad? Perhaps, but it was better than staying at the office.
Glad to see someone else recognizing that introversion is not a disease.
Many grocery stores have a "hot food" counter serving chicken strips, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, etc, with tables near by. But if you want to buy something else from the store and eat it there, no one will object. At the grocery stores I like, you can buy individual buns from the bakery and a few slices of ham and cheese by weight from the deli...
My other suggestion would be, assuming you live in reasonable commuting distance -- just go home. That can be the most relaxing break of all.
I like to eat lunch quickly and painlessly at my desk and use the rest of my lunchtime to go for a walk. I work at an urban institution, so it's easy for me to go outside and walk completely away from campus. It's exercise and it recharges the batties.
Can you spend one hour every day in your office, headphones on, dealing with stuff that isn't likely to stress you out? Or, can you go for a walk in a nearby park while dictating into a recorder?
Eating in the car may be sad, but damned if it's not comfortable sometimes.
In fact, it is so public, nobody seems to notice me when I sit there and eat. I guess they expect to see students sitting there!
Shower and return to your bag lunch in your office. Great way to get away, stay healthy, and sane.