Thursday, November 01, 2007

Eating lunch alone

After a fairly substantial breakfast this morning, I wasn't ravenous at 1 p.m. This is the time that the entire British nation decided is Time For Lunch, and so is usually a rather insane affair of desperately trying to simultaneously keep a place in the queue to purchase your sandwich and leave as many of your possessions as possible somewhere to sit.

Instead, I was so absorbed in my fascinating work of adding bullet points in places where Quark ate them in my layout that by the time I looked up it was already past two. So I gathered my things, and headed to Eat, which is my usual choice when I've neglected to bring my lunch with me to work. (Get the pie. It is always good.) I wandered into the shop, and instead of the usual pushing and dodging and grabbing-before-someone-else, I stood there and contemplated my choices in relative solitude. There was a distinct lack of choice (two kinds of baguette were left, neither of which I'd actually wanted), but there was no shortage of seats. As I read my paper, the music blaring strangely loud without the usual numbers of people to soak up the noise, I noticed something a bit strange.

Every single customer in the shop was eating alone. The guy beside me had a laptop, and was working away with the occasional glance over to see the headlines. Another man sat at his table with his head in his hands staring at the floor for 45 minutes before eating the soup he'd gotten almost an hour ago and leaving. He made me want to give him a hug, and tell him that everything was going to be okay. Is there something about 2 p.m. that means everyone eating at that hour has no friends? Or at least, no friends to have lunch with that day. It was nice though. Quiet. Just what I needed today. I think I'll be eating lunch alone again.

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