Read a Book!

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!

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8 Responses to Read a Book!

  1. I admit I haven’t been reading much lately (I either read obsessivly or not at all), but I don’t think I’d complain about a break in the work day.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had trouble thinking of ways to occupy my free time… there’s always something you can do.

    But then I’m fascinated by bright shiny things.

  2. Ramona says:

    I never go anywhere without a book – even if I am just running into town on a 15 minute errand, I take a book along. Hey, the car might break down and I would have nothing to do while waiting for a tow!
    Many, many years ago, whilst living in the corrupt big city, waiting in lines, I learned if I had a book with me, waiting in lines was easy. Well, less stressful anyway.
    I can top your fellow employees – at least the one just looking out the window – the woman I used to work with just sat and stared at her blank computer screen if she had nothing to do. I guess she could have been meditating……..R

  3. Ramona The Brave says:

    Oh, yeh, currently, I am two thirds of the way through “Arthur & George” by Julian Barnes. It is really interesting now that the two have finally met up.
    It is a fairly big book, as in many pages, which reminds me of a comment made by a fellow bus passenger many years ago. (Public transportation to work is wonderful. You get to relax and read instead of fighting with all those stupid drivers out there.)
    Anyway, I was reading a big, thick paperback (Zelda, I believe), when this woman says, “Oh, I could never read a big book like that. I would just never get it all read!” Duh, don’t you just read all books one word after another? Kinda like walking a mile instead of a block?

  4. Corvus says:

    People’s unwillingness, or inability, to fill their own time never ceases to amaze me.

  5. kaizerin says:

    Heh, Ramona. Maybe the lady on the bus thought her lips would get too tired from sounding everything out in so lengthy a book? As for the blank-screen-staring lady, jeeze! I can’t imagine being that…empty.

    Also, I’ve heard really good things about Arthur & George, so let me know what you think when you finish it. I believe one reviewer said it was a spectacular example of an author achieving more than the sum of his talents, or similar back-handed compliment.

    Corvus, your comment makes me wonder if it’s another example of people refusing to take any personal responsibility–right up to responsibility for their own entertainment. How irritatingly passive.

  6. Sister Sue says:

    Oh, my heart. I think it stopped when I read that people have an hour for lunch and nothing to do. In the teaching profession we have 22 minutes, and that’s the case even after you’ve worked 30 years. Nothing civilized about a short lunch. What I wouldn’t give for a few minutes to read or knit. Gah!

  7. Ramona The Pest says:

    It will soon be 50 yrs since I was a h.s. freshman. The thing I hated most about school was the brevity of lunch time. Our lunch break was staggered by 3 bells. If it was your turn to go to lunch on the 3rd bell, you had about 12-15 minutes to run across the street to the cafeteria, stand in line to have your lunch card punched and then about 5-7 minutes to eat. I swore once I got out of h.s. I would never eat fast again. (I’m usually the last one finished eating to this day.)
    Hooray for teachers!

  8. kaizerin says:

    I concur, Ramona: Hooray for teachers! If we had any sense of priorities at all in this country, they’d be paid like NBA stars.

    Sister Sue, you understand my outrage perfectly. How dare these people waste such a precious commodity? God, if they’re not using it, I’d be happy to sop up the extra half-hour of their lunch each day–they can go cover my desk, I’ll keep on reading.

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