Are American Workers Starving For A Longer Lunch?

Or are lunch breaks 'totally overrated'?

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Julia Pistell
Julia Pistell wrote an essay in defense of lunch for "This I Believe." Photo:Chion Wolf
Chris Prosperi prepares lunch.
Chris Prosperi says cornbeef sandwhiches on Jewish rye bread are his favorite lunch. Photo:Chion Wolf
Christopher Prosperi
Christopher Prosperi is chef and co-owner of Metro Bis in Simsbury. Photo:Chion Wolf
Are American Workers Starving For A Longer Lunch?
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Are American Workers Starving For A Longer Lunch?

Lunch here at WNPR is both a sad and a joyous affair.

Those people who work on this show have, of course, almost no time for lunch. We mostly eat at our desks, but then so do most of our co-workers, even the ones on very different schedules.

On the happier side, we have established diplomatic relations with a wide network of cheap takeout providers, and it's not uncommon for ace newsman Jeff Cohen to blow a wooden whistle announcing what we call "the lunch train."  (To get on board is to consult that takeout menu and place one's order.)

So we have ritual. And we have knowledge of the city and its myriad food trucks and counters.
But we don't use lunch to reboot our brains and our souls. And we don't use it to gather around a table and share ideas.

Lunch is always a statement about where you work, and the statement here is: we have more that we want to do than we have time to do it. And we're broke. On today's show, we share our lunch philosophies and hear your thoughts about this mid-day meal.

Leave your comments below, e-mail or Tweet us @wnprcolin.



E-mail from G.R.

Anyone who is interested in ‘lunch’ as a culture phenomenon should read “Theory and Practice of Lunch” (1987) by English novelist, columnist, and playwright Keith Waterhouse – a marvellous read; it will make you eat lunch away from your office desk for the rest of your work days…..

E-mail from Elle

Worked in NYC investment banking boutique. Was provided lunch daily from "L'Aureole' [4 or 5 star restaurant]. The FIRM made it a point out of letting us know that it cost $35 per person to do this. These lunches were necessary because of the nature of the CEOS, CFOs etc. we entertained in the HUNGRY world of acquistions. Of course, if you ate lunch, you stayed available and dined at your desk, regardless of conference room availability. But this firm had come a long way since four years prior, when the seccies were asked to clear ALL PLATES from all cubicles & boardrooms of the analysts & principals in a 12 person office. Dishes had to be washed as well. When we moved upstairs, the kitchen was mucho grande. And of course, a large dishwasher.

E-mail from Georg

What about the clean your key board of spills and crumbs break?

Thoughts from Bull Hill

E-mail from Jack

Back in the days when I worked in offices, the more I hated my job, the more likely I was to go out for a lunch -- a long lunch. With libations.

It wasn't always possible to escape from the office, however, even if I desperately wanted to. But even when I detested my employer, I often worked through lunch if I found myself engrossed in a project, especially one with a looming deadline. I rarely left at quitting time, however, so my employers weren't cheated out of any time. What I learned, eventually, was that there was no reward for working through lunch, or well after quitting time, or during the remainder of the evening, on weekends, or on weekends.

My best awful job was one in which my immediate supervisor -- a v.p. with an expense account -- really enjoyed going out to lunch and often would take me with him. We ate well, often.

At my best non-awful job, at a university, lunchtime usually was spent on the tennis or squash courts with other administrators and faculty members. At this job, I hardly ever went out for lunch. Consumption of food occurred at my desk while I worked. I was in superb physical condition back then.