Recently, on two consecutive days, I heard co-workers complain about the length of our lunch break. “I wish they gave us an option,” the first one said. “It’s fine if I have to run errands or something, but if I don’t have something to go do, an hour is just too long.” Yes, she was complaining that our evil bosses make us take a whole hour to ourselves, every working day. “Eating only takes 15 minutes, and I don’t have anything to fill the time.”
The second day, a man was staring out the window, and another colleague came in and teased him about zoning out. “Yeah,” he said, “well, with a whole hour for lunch, there’s really nothing to do. So I just sit here and stare out the window, watching the scenery.” (That scenery, by the way, is the less-than-beautiful I-205 freeway.)
Pardon me a moment while I get my Handy on: “Read a book!” Criminentlies, people! Pick up a book, or a magazine, or the daily paper so kindly provided by the managers who have condemned you to this hell of, gasp, free time!
Same goes to the guy who was bragging to his lunch companion that he only reads Star Trek and Star Wars novelizations. He can’t be bothered with anything else. Well, I’ll give you half credit for having a reading habit, but pick up a real book sometime. (I hasten to say that this is not prompted by any lack of Sci-Fi Love in my own cold little heart. No indeedies, I’m crazy about the stuff. Not that particular branch of it, but whatever. This isn’t a genre issue.) His companion commented that she didn’t read much fiction; her particular love was history. “Oh,” he replied, “I would like to know more about history. There’s just stuff I have questions about. Like, I never know what order things happened in, and stuff. Like, obviously World War I was before World War II, but when were the other wars?”(I kid you not.) Hmm…too bad there’s not some easily-accessible type of information-repository that you could turn to–like maybe, someone could write out a whole bunch of information on a topic, then bind all the papers together for portability, and you could pick out just the ones on topics you like, and find answers to your questions. But where, oh where, to find such a trove of knowledge?
Back to the “I just don’t know what to do with a whole hour!” crowd. Okay, maybe reading’s not your bag; that’s fair. How about journaling? Or doing puzzles? How about working on an easily-transportable hobby, like knitting? Hell, bring a coloring book! Or your MP3 player! Do your nails! Practice calligraphy! Balance your checkbook! Don’t just sit there and let an hour of your life seep out of you.
And finally, the other day, a co-worker approached me with, “What are you reading NOW?” her tone conveying not, “Oh, you’ve moved on to a new book, what is it?”but rather “Not another freakin’ book, what is WITH you?”
Reading. It’s a nearly-extinct art, but one that hasn’t lost its power to irritate bystanders. Try it today!