No one spoke of the words “food” or “lunch,” but my stomach did.
There are a lot of factors that go into the stress of having a highly demanding job or internship: protocol for uploading or saving documents, anticipating your boss’s needs, doing a task right the first time around. And if you’re me, figuring out how you go about asking for a lunch break is high on the ‘work anxiety list’. It’s embarrassing and kind of hilarious to believe I put myself through the additional stress – especially because it was unnecessary, but for a week, I did not go on lunch or eat at work.
It’s important to know that no one deprived me of my lunch break or attempted to barricade me inside if I tried to leave; it was simply my stupid choice. I landed an internship at a small magazine based in Soho, New York. It was my first week and I didn’t really know the procedure for anything. All I did know was that my boss was pretty demanding and that she expected you to somehow know her office protocol. Weirdly, the rest of the staff and interns also expected you to know as well. Unfortunately for me, I had no clue.
I can’t go on not eating like this. I have to make a move.
On my first day, it moved by pretty quickly because I was jammed packed with reviewing documents and getting better acquainted with the software. When it reached 1PM, my growling stomach aroused me. But no one seemed to be moving. I looked around and my co-workers, unbothered by the hour, kept typing and working away at their seats. No one spoke of the words “food” or “lunch,” but my stomach did. Nevertheless, I didn’t budge. As the hours rolled on, still, no one left until it was 6PM and the workday was over.
The next day, the same thing happened. I thought to myself, I can’t go on not eating like this. I have to make a move. I never did. On the third day, things changed slightly. When it reached 2:30PM on the clock, I notice one girl walk out and return 15 minutes later with a bag from the corner bakery. I also noticed an intern who sat diagonal to my seat, eating a sandwich she had brought from home. A little while after, two girls who worked upstairs left and later returned with food. As they left and came back, my mouthed watered and my stomach growled with thoughts of food. At one point I thought only employees who had been there for two weeks or more could get lunch. But eventually I guessed that the policy for lunch was no policy; you got up when you were hungry, grabbed lunch, then brought it back to your desk and kept working. And even though that seemed like what was happening, I still didn’t go to lunch.
At one point I thought only employees who had been there fore two weeks or more could get lunch.
Even the days following, I continued to see my co-workers leave and return, yet I just watched them, imagining the lunches they soon would be eating. At the end of my first week, I almost left and went out to grab something; I even stood up from my seat, but I never made it out of the office. I don’t know why I couldn’t bring myself to leaving. I had seen others do it without so much as telling our boss, so I’m pretty sure it would’ve been fine. Yet I stayed put. Maybe it was that I was scared or I needed validation for my leaving. I had never just left. If I left, I told some one, or it was made clear that leaving with no warning was standard. It was never spelled out for me; I was assuming. I think it would’ve been better for me to have run with my assumptions though because not eating for 8 hours for 5 days straight did more harm than any good of trying to follow a procedure that I wasn’t sure existed.