You know how to play chicken, don’t you? Usually, you are challenging the other person to something, and whoever gives in is the chicken. You may remember this from old 50s movies (or an old Paula Abdul video) when two cars race head-to-head and one veers away at the last minute.
So, I never thought I’d be playing it at work.
My first day of work was met without any fanfare, for many reasons. First, my boss told me to come to work at 2pm since nothing would be ready in the morning. PS: It’s the next afternoon, and still nothing is ready. And also because I spent the next 2 hours or so in a server room learning the latest, and not meeting anyone. I was finally introduced at about 5pm, and we took a coffee break where I said next to nothing. I’m in observation mode, that’s my excuse.
The next day, I arrived first, even though I was later than I had wanted to be (8.45) due to experimenting with different routes to work. I didn’t have time to eat breakfast, so I popped over to the break room to survey the options. Pretty grim. Two rice-coconut cookies later, I was already hungry for lunch.
For the past two years, I have been teaching in a frantic mode. Usually my lunches were hurried, 5-minute affairs, sometimes while walking. Since lunch time is the most popular time for English lessons, that means that the teacher always misses their own lunch. Anyway, and instinctively, after 25 years of training, my brain thinks that 12 (or even sometimes 11.30) means lunch.
Well, it doesn’t here in Italy.
Usually people start lunch at 1pm, many times due to contract restraints, but it’s kind of a chicken & the egg question regarding their later start time in the morning (around 9am) and their lunch. Which caused which?
Anyway, so 12 passed without anyone so much as batting an eyelash. My stomach was slowly eating its inner lining. I eyed the chocolate-filled bun I had bought for breakfast, but I knew it would cause note. Didn’t want to be branded too early as a food-loving American (that will come in due time).
My first day of work was a half-day, so surely today my boss would take me and the team out to do some team bonding?
I saw my boss grab his jacket as another manager came in. “What do you want today? Oysters??”
“That sounds good!” He says as he walks out without even looking my direction.
Grumble grumble. Ouch, the acid is building up.
Surely they will start thinking about eating soon, or at least do the “pre-lunch round” which consists of leaving your seat, reminding everyone that lunch is coming up, and should start thinking about it, and possibly state any preferences if they have one regarding time, cost or place.
1pm came and went. What is going on here??? I’m so hungry, but determined to conform to the company norm. My productivity was probably pretty low at this time.
Finally, at 1.09, one of my colleagues stood up, and said, “Lunch?” I had my headphones on and pretended not to hear. He came to my desk. “Will you join us for lunch?”
I took off my headphones, and slowly turned to him, as if it hadn’t even occurred to me that it was lunchtime.