Lunchtime Inhumanity

One of the more inhuman little things an employer can to do you:  The half-hour lunch.  Not enough time to actually *do* anything, or go have a nice, relaxing lunch and prepare for the afternoon.  No.  It’s enough time to hurry to whatever cafeteria is on-site, grab food, bolt it down like a dog, and hurry back to work.  Conversely, one can bring a sandwich and apple like you’re still in 4th grade, and eat at your desk — forsaking any social interaction.

The half-hour lunch ensures that your employees will remain stressed and hurried for the entire day, and when that half-hour is granted only grudgingly with the expectation that one will *work* while eating their 4th grade lunch at their desk…it’s a surefire mile-marker on the road to burnout.

My current employer grants the half-hour lunch…grudgingly.  There was one point early in my tenure here where even that was taken away.  I was on our help desk, and someone decided that we would all rather go home a half-hour early rather than have a half-hour of lunch…except that we didn’t get to go home a half-hour early.  I believe that there was at least a year where there was no lunch period.  People scrambled to the cafeteria and back with food — food that then needed to be consumed between calls for password changes and stuff.  For that time, I claimed a half-hour of overtime every day that I worked through lunch.

Even now, I usually bring leftovers from home and eat at my desk during lunch.  If I were to try leaving work to get B.K. or something, it would take the full half-hour to get out to the car, get to the B.K. and get food, get back, park, and walk back to my desk.  At that point the food would be cold and I would have no remaining lunchtime in which to actually eat.

And yet…this isn’t the most extreme case I’ve seen.  At my PREVIOUS employer — a car factory — they granted the half-hour lunch.  In this case, line-workers would have to hoof it from the far corners of the building to the cafeteria, stand in line to get food, then hoof it back to the line.  The far corners of the building were in some cases an honest 15 minute walk.

This precipitated the all-too-common sight of a line worker practically sprinting into the lunchroom, *grabbing* a burger and fries, *throwing* their money at the cashier while tearing open the burger with their teeth, and stuffing it in their mouth while they sprinted out.  Inhuman.

I have only had one job with a real, honest-to-gawd, lunch HOUR.  It was a crappy, little clerk job at Purdue University, but I got an hour for lunch and it was awesome.  I could meet my wife at the student union and have a relaxed meal; I could eat leftovers and go for a half-hour walk; I could go run an errand and still eat.  It was heavenly.

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