For those of us who are stuck in a cubicle (or even an office) from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, our lunch breaks are almost sacred. We want to eat, unwind and unplug for the allotted sixty minutes without interruption. But alas, interruption can find us anywhere. This post is dedicated to the people who create situations that prevent me (and maybe you) from being able to eat in peace. I give you…
1) Smelly Lunch Guy – In my last post about work besties, I introduced “Fargaret”. She and another coworker-friend “Byron” are the two people I normally eat lunch with every day. We go to the breakroom, eat for the first half of our break, then play a card game during the second half. Part of the reason why we try to finish our lunch early is because we know that thirty minutes into our lunch period, our coworker “Bob” is going to enter and prepare his standard lunch; Sardines, corn, zucchini noodles, peppers, hot sauce and an array of other ingredients will be mixed in a bowl…and microwaved. Have you ever smelled sardines in a microwave? If the answer is yes, I’m willing to bet you’ve worked with Bob at some point in your life because I believe he’s the only person inconsiderate enough to microwave sardines at work. With hot sauce no less!
How to deal: Try to schedule your lunch break so you can at least get your food down before he/she enters the room. This is also a great excuse to eat out more.
2) The Spoiler – When you eat lunch in a small room crowded with other people, you’re bound to overhear a conversation or two. For some reason, the conversations that I always seem to pick up on are when my coworker “Rosie” is loudly discussing a movie or TV show that I haven’t seen yet. One time I tried to stop her from spoiling a movie I wanted to see and she replied with: “Oh don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it for you. I was just talking about the scene where [insert spoiler here]”. So recently, when I heard her talking about Wonder Woman, I reverted back to my kindergarten self by putting both hands over my ears and shouting “I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you!” Then I avoided the lunchroom until I saw the movie. I also had to binge watch the newest season of Orange is the New Black because if she had ruined any surprise for me, I would have had a hard time resisting the urge to toss a hot sauce-laced sardine her way.
How to deal: If you can’t beat her to the movies, steer the conversation to a movie or TV show you have already seen.
(Example – Her: “Boy, I loved Wonder Woman. Especially the part where…”
You: “Hey! Remember the episode when Ricky wouldn’t let Lucy be in the show? Hahahaha!”)
3) The One Who Can’t Let Go – I recognize that every once in a while it may be necessary to work through lunch, but for the most part, I consider lunch to be a work-free zone. So I don’t love it when someone comes into the lunchroom to hunt me (or Fargaret or Byron) down to ask a work-related question. Or worse, when someone doesn’t even have a question, they just want to complain. “I can’t believe my boss is asking me to do this…Why do I always have to…” Stop it! MY lunch hour is not YOUR therapy hour!
How to deal: If you can’t physically escape, become an interrupter yourself. Try steering the conversation toward more pleasant things and don’t let him finish his sentences. He will either get frustrated and leave or follow the new thread of conversation that you’ve introduced.
4) The Jokester – Yes, it’s the return of The Jokester, “Benjamin”. You may remember him from my first post We All Have That One Coworker… It turns out Benjamin is not just full of dad jokes, he’s full of baloney as well. Benjamin doesn’t normally spend his whole break in the lunchroom; he just breezes in, approaches the first person to make eye contact, engages them in conversation and then breezes out. One day his loud, exuberant storytelling caught my ear because it was giving me a case of déjà vu. The next day, when it happened again with a different story, a light bulb went on. He was taking the plot of certain 80’s movies and telling them as if they were his own personal experiences! Once I realized that, I could barely contain my laughter. His stories don’t annoy me as much anymore because I’m excited to see what channel he’ll turn to next. So far I’ve recognized bits and pieces of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, Encino Man, and even Top Gun. The man is talented.
How to deal: Just like with the dad jokes, the best way to combat the Jokester is to beat him at his own game. (Example – “I remember this one time when I got detention on Saturday and I was stuck in the library with a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.”)
This list could go on for days but it’s almost lunchtime so I’ll end it here at the top four. What kind of Interrupters keep you from enjoying YOUR lunch? Drop a comment below!