the cafeteria
July 25, 2003 12:31 PM

I work in a building. Nay, a campus. That includes a cafeteria. It's actually a reasonably good cafeteria that serves interesting food, albeit much with chicken [I have this thing against chicken and the very specific cruelty of industrial chicken farms; admittedly, I do occasionally lapse for particularly good food containing chicken, but generally, no. You can order just about any chicken dish at the cafe chickenless, so that works out alright.].

I eat lunch at the cafeteria a couple of days at least every week. But not actually at the cafe; I pick up and take back to my desk, where I work 9-10 hours a day. I consider this reasonable, given the demands on my time and making allowances for unproductive time.

I rarely lunch out. If I had time, few of my colleagues would. They're all picking up and eating out of styrofoam containers at their desks, just like me.

But this week I've been in another building, taking a class. This building has no cafeteria, barring a small place to buy drinks and snacks. And at lunch, all of these people clear out of the building. They don't even pick up; they just flat eat out. And they seem to leave earlier than we do.

I doubt these people have so much more work than we.

In fact, I think the cafeteria is a particularly insidious brand of forced productivity. If you can pickup and eat at your desk, some people will, until everyone eventually feels obliged. If you're that tied to your desk and meetings, you will come to feel you can't leave. You'll stay later. Come earlier.

And it's all the cafeteria's fault.

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