here is how it would go:
Ladies and Gentleman and Graduates,
I am going to give you a simple piece of advice that I think can help you advance your careers and help you touch lives in this world in ways we can now, in our cell phone digitized world, only dream about: DO LUNCH.
Let me begin with a euglogy I wrote to Lunch when I feared it was almost dead, back in 2011.
I remember you. We first met over a bologna and cheese in the 60s. Occasionally the fish sticks would be added in to our party.
We had a lot of fun during my early work days. I’d meet you around noon and we sat around with colleagues and talked about all sorts of random things. The dreams we had the night before, the latest Seinfeld, and the hot actor on ER, George Clooney. Ah those were the days. Sure, the food wasn’t that great, cafeteria brocolli and ranch dressing, but the company made the whole day worth showing up for, no matter how bad.
For 10 years, we were thick as thieves, you and me Lunch. Thick as thieves.
Then things changed. Well actually, you were still available but in a different place. Our meeting place at my new work site was set up to accommodate 3 in an office of about 50. I ended up seeing you once in a while, those days when I could find a chair or sneak out to eat at the local bakery. Our relationship existed like this for four years, until I moved on to the next job.
Computers hit the work scene in full force and you and I started really drifting apart. I began working as an outreach educator and when I asked about lunch, my boss said, “Oh, lunch, we usually just sit at our desks, but you can take one half hour if you want.”
It wasn’t looking good for us lunch, I should have seen it coming. We managed though, we got together once in awhile. Sometimes, the kitchen classroom was empty and we went in and heated up our macaroni and cheese and sat at the table with other people escaping their office cubes. Other days lunch, you and I would try and take a walk together. Now that was fun, remember how we talked about the good old days when we could actually hang out together.
We were going to try and make it work like it use to, do you remember Lunch?
But now, lunch, years later, our relationship is all but dead. I see you about 3 minutes a day while I’m walking from my classroom to my office or while I’m typing something on my computer. I miss your scent, your crunch, and I miss your companionship,
I miss bul shi ing about life. I could feel you lunch, touch you, exchange words and emotions with you, you felt more warm and fuzzy than my metal computer. No matter how we slice it lunch, it just isn’t the same. I want you in my life, I need to talk, I need to communicate and see what is happening in the world, what I’m missing by just linking posts on Facebook. I just don’t know when you will be coming back. But if you can find a way to ease yourself back into my life, by all means I will be happy to see you.
Lunch and I have reconnected a bit since I wrote this but our relationship needs to be strengthened. So, with hope for the future, here is one important piece of advice:
I see before me young, beautiful, hopeful, energetic people and I fear you will be discouraged by the paradigms we have set before you.
Don’t be, do lunch.
Lunch: the concept
As many days of the week as you can, with as many people as you can. Turn off the electronics, bring sandwiches to the park, or bring grandma to the diner.
At work, sit in the staff room, even if you are alone sometimes, just sit, someone is bound to walk in. Don’t be clannish, practice an open heart. Sit and talk across language differences, job titles, ages, outfits. and income differentials because underneath you will find our common humanity.
At the end of lunch your heart will probably feel warmer as you approach the rest of your day, and you will have received more information about life than spending extra time with your ever present electronic compadre.
In communications, we know that the richest channel of communication is face-to-face. We know this and we need to practice it.
I have tried for hours finding data about a topic only to spend an hour with people who answered my questions in minutes. We think computers have sped us up, but perhaps, in some ways, they have slowed us down.
Accept now that you can not keep up with technology and that the race is futile. Technology is a tool to solve our problems but its popularity seems to have made it into the end product.
The world has many issues that beckon you, that need you. My advice is not to let lunch stay buried in the anthropology room, but to put LUNCH in bold on your calendars.
Revised from 2012