Friday, September 18, 2009


Sometimes, the finest section of my day is the part when I get to hide in my car for a bit, eat my lunch, and continue listening to whatever book's been fueling me throughout the day.

If circumstances permit, at the lunch hour I drive to our Whole Foods, park my car in a remote spot, and head in to purchase my staple lunch with its slight variations. Some days I'll toss in a couple pieces of pita. If I'm feeling that I've gone too long without self-flagellation, I'll include some feta cheese. Other days it's black olives--never kalamata; I can't stand 'em. Sometimes whole garbanzos join the melange. And if I'm feeling naughty, I'll land at the express checkout with a vegan peanut butter smore from the chilled bakery section. The little alterations add a sprinkle of excitement, serving as a barrier between my everyday lunch and monotony.

If I stand in one place in Whole Foods long enough (like I sometimes must do when waiting for a catering order) I'm sure to spy someone I know. Not generally a friend or an acquaintance I can comfortably chat with, just someone I recognize or know the name of, maybe a person from church or work or yoga. I may greet them, or I might just take note and continue scanning and watching. Anonymity and solitude in the midst of a crowd often prompt introspection in a way that isolation cannot.

After I have my lunch in hand, rather than settling at one of the tables inside or out, I clack back to my car, get in, shut the door, turn on the AC, press play on my iPod, scoot my seat back as far as it can go, slip off my shoes, prop my left foot on the seat (if not in a restrictive skirt), and dig in.

It could just be fifteen minutes of the day that I spend in such a state, but they're my fifteen minutes. I don't answer the phone, check emails, or respond to outside stimuli. Alone in my box, I pick through my lunch making bites. A tomato and tabbouleh dipped in hummus. Half a falafel, some hummus, and a couple feta crumbles fused on my fork. I listen to my book, sometimes using it as ambient noise, as I loose the power to focus when wandering through my thoughts.

When lunch is done and my water bottle is about half-way to recyclable, I set the trash aside, sit up straight, put my shoes back on, scoot my chair forward, check my teeth for interlopers, swish some water if there are barnacles, toss in some gum to eradicate the malodorous breath hummus leaves behind, put on lipstuff, and check my phone for any calls or emails I might have missed.

Then I pull out of the parking lot in whatever direction the next stop dictates I ought.

Refreshed? Perhaps. Revived? Maybe. Renewed? Sometimes. Fed? Yes. And at least that gives me the energy required to keep on.


whitneyingram said...

I used to do that same thing during my working days. And one day while devouring my Subway sandwich, I look over and my brother in law is waving obnoxiously at me from his car. GAH! Leave me alone! I am having a moment!

rabidrunner said...

Maybe I should eat my lunch that way. But I'd have to go out to the garage and sit in my car. Then one by one, the Yahoos would open the door. And yell, "What are you doing in there?"

Or maybe I could train them to leave me alone while I'm having the lunch in my car. Great idea, right? It would, however, be scary to come inside and see what happened while I was "away."

I s'pose I'm using my 15 minute break each day to take a shower! (And even that is rarely uninterrupted.)

Jessica said...

i read this at around 6am and it made me hungry then. i'm jealous of your lunch food. there isn't a whole foods or trader joe's close enough to me. sad.

tom lindsey said...

The office meal is a difficult. I usually go over to the local supermarket and grab some seasonal fruit, a banana, string cheese, and on Fridays a jalapeno cheddar cheese bagel. It is a tiresome ritual.

What I need is a guide for 10 healthy seasonal recipes that can be purchased at the local market that can be prepared with nothing more than a pair of chopsticks and a plastic knife. If only you were related to someone who loves to cook ...