Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I’m Sorry I know You Are At Lunch, But….

An open letter to all coworkers everywhere.

I know I can not be the only one who hears this statement A LOT at work. “I know you are at lunch but” …….followed by……”I have a question, here is a file, can you do this for me, do you have a minute” etc.

We do not have a lunch room and as I do not have time to leave for lunch (and also have nowhere to go) I stay at my desk and mess around on the interweb for a bit. During that 30 minutes I like to pretend that I am all alone in a locked room with no distractions; just me, my microwavable lunch and the computer. Of course actually achieving any solitude is impossible when you sit in a cubicle right by the door and at the center of the office, but I strive to at least pretend that I have some morsel of privacy for a few minutes each day. I have managed to block out the constant drones around me; the beeping of the copier, the ringing of the phone, the annoying chatter that echoes through the entire office and I have to say I am fairly good at doing so. Well, I can block out just about everything except loud crunching. (Why people WHY must you crunch loud?!) Yes, I manage to block out all of the office hullabaloo that takes place around me, that is until my fleeting moments of peace are interrupted by those dreaded words, “I’m Sorry I know You Are At Lunch, But…”.

Let us take a moment and just dissect this phrase if we can, because I find a number of things that are wrong with a person saying this phrase to me.

First: “I’m Sorry”. Are you? Are you really sorry? Are you sorry that you are disrupting my “me time” or are you just saying that in an attempt to make yourself feel better for the unnecessary question you are about to ask me and the interruption to my lunch you are about to cause? I am guessing if you thought long and hard you are not really, that sorry. I’m sorry, I’m just say’n.

B: “I know you are at lunch”. Had you just started talking and then said as you saw me take another bite of my 4 cheese penne Lean Cuisine “Oh I didn’t realize you were at lunch” I may have forgiven you for simply be unperceptive to the activities taking place within my 4x6 area. But noooo, to come out and acknowledge the fact that I am at lunch and you know it and yet you still just have to talk to me right at that very moment is unacceptable.

3rd: “But…” This is where I believe you make your fatal mistake. When walking up to me and noticing that I was infact partaking in lunch you could have made that phrase above a statement and just said “I’m sorry, I know you are at lunch.” (period) And leave and I will come to you when I am done. But no, you choose to add a but at the end of that phrase and that but is not what I want to hear while trying to enjoy my 30 minutes of serenity during my otherwise crazy work day.

I guess I shall say this. I get 30 minutes for lunch. 30 quick minutes where I am stuck in the office. I understand things happen, but (and this is my but to you) unless there is a fire or someone is hurt or I am in grave danger…please give me my 30 minutes of attempted peace and quiet and I promise if you do that I will not dream of throwing my half eaten apple at any of you or dream of paper cutting you with our file folders ever again. I know I am nearly not that important that 30 minutes of not talking to me will cause chaos to ensue and the company to crumble. But I guess I should be happy you all think that highly of me.

Thank you,


  1. maybe you should just make copies of this post and hand them to anyone who talks to you during that 30 minutes. That'd be kind of amusing, if you ask me. Seriously, I'd wear headphones and no matter how many times they tapped me, I'd ignore them. :)

  2. This happens to me too because I eat lunch at my desk! I always just say really loudly, "HOLD ON, I have to CLOCK IN first." which seems to shake them out of their coma of jerkiness for some reason. But I don't know if you clock in and out...

  3. Ugh -- this happened to me ALL the time in my last position. And I so rarely had time to even stop working to eat lunch that it just made me insane. In my group now, we're all so scattered that any such requests for my attention come via instant message, which are easily ignored. :) Hooray for technology! Helping us ignore our co-workers all over the world.

    (I don't think you should rule out chucking a half-eaten apple at someone. The message would get out pretty quickly, and I think folks would leave you alone, if only to avoid fruit-delivered black eye. And also, then you could blog about it and we could laugh.)

  4. You need to make a "Do NOT Disturb" sign to pin to your back daily.

  5. YES! Print this out and post in the office. Then maybe someone will take a picture and put it on and then you can be famous. Or infamous. Whatever. It'd be cool.

    I currently have a door... and I adore it. :)

  6. Sarah W1:47 PM

    Make that...

  7. THIS is awesome.

    I agree with everyone: some sort of, "I'm at lunch" signage or collateral material is necessary.

    Perhaps Hoops And YoYo have a funny-but-I'm-serious sign that you could print out?

    Well said. I enjoyed this post and wish you many interruption-free lunches.

  8. I agree! I find this so terribly annoying that I will often go eat in my car....seriously. Or go run needless errands. Why can't people just leave a sista alone??