Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

Service of Lunch Breaks Here and in France

Monday, June 20th, 2022

Front of a long line of people waiting for takeout at lunchtime on Third Avenue in the 40’s last week.

In the last office in which I rented space, before the pandemic raged, a bevy of IT workers in there also never left their chairs except for brief trips to the WC or unless they were called out on a job. I admit to too many similar days even though I never had a nine to five job. But if I lunched out daily for 60 to 90 minutes I think I’d tack on work at the beginning and end and would have to budget for the added expense as well.

The pandemic has changed white collar workplace culture in NYC in countless ways, slowing the frenetic pace for some, I suspect, especially for employees who continue to work remotely some of the time. On the days they’re in an office many bring their lunches from home while others order takeout and eat quickly, if they work at companies that don’t have cafeterias.

But not in France where there is a labor code, launched in 1894, forbidding workers to eat at their desks. “La pause déjeuner” can last up to an hour and a half according to Gregory Warner in his NPR podcast, “Rough Translation.”  

The lunch break started in France, said Martin Bruegel on the podcast, some 130 years ago during the Industrial Revolution when, to avert disease, workplace airborne poison was thought to be cleaned out by opening factory windows. It survived a few almost reversals, said the historian.  Women workers went on strike in the beginning because they felt harassed on the streets and wanted the protection of eating in the factory, but they lost. It was suspended during the recent pandemic, but it’s back.

Bruegel concluded that after research he is convinced that the break has all sorts of benefits–well-being and happiness for starters. He reported less burnout and depression and increased productivity despite the 35 hour workweek. As employees get to know their colleagues their work becomes more collaborative. Although addressing work-related subjects at lunch is discouraged, coworkers learn more about each other such as the background to why one insists on an approach to a challenge or why another is super stressed which is impacting attitude and output.

A labor law here, like this one, would thrill restaurants and takeout businesses but, I imagine, not employers. Do you think it would work or would we, in certain industries, perceive a long daily lunch break away from our desks as slothful? Do or did you eat lunch at your desk?

Service of New Traditions

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

I wonder how many new personal traditions have begun as a result of sheltering at home and how many will remain when the worst blows over. The most obvious: families connecting weekly via video conference companies such as Zoom.

I had to figure out a way to exercise without exercising, which I despise. New York, like many cities, is a place to walk–and I did in the normal course of a day–but I have cut down on my outdoor time. My solution has been to reserve an hour a day to dance. I say dance but more accurately I walk/march briskly with intermittent stretches in the compact space of my apartment. My first target is 10,000 steps. So far I’m at 9,400+–3.9 miles according to my iPhone. It’s quite a trick, weaving in and out of chairs and tables and down a short, skinny hallway, but when my hour starts, I don’t stop.

A friend shared another example: “After breakfast my 3 & 5 year old grandchildren hug their father good bye and wish him a good day as he climbs the stairs to his office.  This helps the separation and they know he’s not available during business hours.”

Another wrote: “Two of my Beagle grandsons visited yesterday. My son brought a hot lunch.  He left my portion on the fender of my car. I picked it up with a disinfectant wipe and cleaned the  container.  He sat more than 10 feet away and I sat in my car. This is having lunch with a loved one in the new normal.”

I’ve begun to make French toast every Sunday as my mother did when I was a kid. Because it took me forever to wake up in the day, my pieces became hard as rocks without a hint of egg. That’s the only way I’ll eat French toast today.

Have you launched any traditions? Do you think any will outlast sheltering at home?

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz