Give yourself a round of applause: the art of a lonely lunchtime

The dreaded thing has happened. You have found yourself unaccompanied on your lunch break with nothing to do. Your choices are as follows: skip lunch and carry on with your work; retreat to the toilets and find a suitable cubicle; brave the stares from your colleagues/classmates/nemeses as you dine in the canteen alone, a lemon, abandoned, seul. Being the valiant soldier that you are, you opt for the third choice, and head out to the silent battle ground.

As a practised solitary diner, I can tell you it’s no mean feat. You will, inevitably, succumb to the lure of scanning Facebook stories on your phone that you have already read. Maybe you’ll send out a generic ‘How’s it going?’ message to your long-lost school friends. But I implore you, courageous warrior, not to give in. Instead, I propose some stronger and far less conspicuous techniques to master the art of a lonely lunchtime.

Firstly, it is imperative that you have a pen. Put it in your hair, behind your ear, why not go retro and put it in your hand? Wherever you store the pen, it is essential that you have one visibly on your person, after all, busy people are always writing, planning, or writing about planning.

This reminds me, the second vital instrument in your metaphorical toolkit must be a diary. In said diary you will have written all the important events/meetings/lunches that you have attended and will be attending. This is a failsafe way of avoiding the vacant, switched-off expression of an idle person. In fact, you have so many plans that this solitary lunch is simply your only time off schedule. You deserve a break.

And because this is your only chance to pause for the entire week, you decide to treat yourself. You plump for a cappuccino-to-go, prompting the tacit questions: where is that hub of activity off to next? How do they do it? What you do not reveal, however, is that you have previously made an arrangement with the barista so that when you order cappuccino, you receive a mocha, or better, hot chocolate.

So that leaves me with the final technique, utterly indispensable to the wannabe-busy-bee: the dash. It is likely that you will exhaust your supply of fake events and activities to write in your diary, and that ‘cappuccino’ won’t last forever. When this moment befalls you my fearless fighter, you must look at your watch, feign anxiety, grab your diary, put the pen back in your hair/behind your ear/in your hand (oldschool) and sprint out of the canteen. Once outside, find the nearest bench and park yourself on it. Finally, give yourself a round of applause for managing not to look like a total idiot.

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