It’s lunch time. Half an hour of freedom. What shall I do? This area with a radius half a mile (allowing for where I can walk to and back within that half hour) is my oyster!
Shall I walk to the park? Just to it and back again. I wouldn’t have time to explore the inner city greenery and still get back on time.
Shall I go to Greggs down the road. Not purchase anything and walk back?
Or shall I cross the road into the Amber Tavern and enjoy half a pint whilst being stared at by locals who don’t recognise me because I’ve never been in there before?
Neither of those things. I shall go to the office canteen.
It’s not practical to do those things. I’ve started eating a bit more sensibly. Cutting down on my bread intake and cutting down on spending money on lunches. I’ve been inspired by my friends who are on this Paleo/Primal diet.
So I’ve got a chicken salad in a tupperware box to tuck into. Prepared by chef Grump. Yes, yours truly. I’m a bit of a master in the kitchen. I cook a pot noodle that will blow your mind!
I go into the canteen with my Tupperware filled with protein, goat food and goodness. I have my copy of National Geographic to help take my mind off the intense pressures of the Insurance claims environment. When you’ve had a morning of angry policyholders shouting, “What’s the point of having insurance?!!” down the phone at you and the turmoil and unrest of hard negotiation over the amount of skirting board that needs replacing in someone’s spare bedroom, it’s important to take some time out, find peace, tranquillity and calm. So an article on Libya in February’s National Geographic should do that.
I find a spot on a table and start to crack on with my lunch. Not far away are a couple of colleagues having a banter. I feel I can still switch off to a degree. I am in Libya. I am in Libya. Chicken, tomato, chicken, radish, Libya.
The rest of the canteen is empty apart from the odd visitor popping in to make a hot drink and then return to their desk.
Suddenly whilst mentally in Libya, in my peripheral vision, I see a large shape in front of me. They move the chair opposite me and sit themselves down.
I am a little perturbed by this. I was in Libya admiring the ancient Greek ruins that have been so well preserved due to the dry conditions. But now I have someone sat in front of me.
I probably sound like a bit of an arse at this point. Why should I feel put out by this? They have every right to sit there.
Did I know this person? No, not really. Did I want to know this person? No, not really. Did they have to sit in that seat? No, not really. There were only another 30 – 40 seats to choose from.
Who in their right mind in a canteen with only three seats taken, decides to sit directly opposite someone eating whilst reading the National Geographic? Can they not see they need the peace, the lack of interruptions and because they are simultaneously eating a protein packed healthy delicacy, need a little extra room to spread out?
Who in their right mind would do that?
If this was prison, it would be enough to get shanked!
Oh but there’s more to this shocking, inconsiderate behaviour. You see they are sat opposite me and yet proceed to join in with the others’ conversation! Why didn’t they go and f*%$@^g sit with them then? Why sit opposite me!!?? They don’t even know me!!??
If you read my post about when Mrs Grump has the car, you will remember the unwritten protocol about the bus seating arrangements. It is exactly the same in this social scenario.
It is unwritten. It is not the law. But everyone knows that you either sit by people you want to talk to, or you sit on your own and enjoy your own company. You don’t go and sit by someone you don’t know and proceed to shout across to people you want to talk to!
I sometimes wish I was from another country. Why? Because some people from other countries wouldn’t stand for that shit. They’d say, “What are you sitting there for!? Sit somewhere else!” Or perhaps they would just move themselves cursing with the subtlety of an Indian wedding.
But I’m British and of course the British don’t want to cause offence. We’re too polite. I find myself not wanting to cause offence by moving to another seat because that would be rude. The fact that they’ve pissed me off goes out of the window. I don’t want to offend this person. Deep down, I’d love to stab them with my spork (A spoon & fork hybrid. A real ingenious piece of cutlery).
But whilst they are sat there, chatting to my colleagues and therefore spreading the conversation into my vicinity, God knows, I was wishing I was a didn’t give a f*$* foreigner, or Larry David. He wouldn’t stand for this.
I tried to return to Libya. I ended up reading the same few lines over and over and over. Unable to avoid the distraction of their fat face, stuffing their fat loud mouth with the Uncle Ben’s microwaved rice they had just heated up and the bullshit that the three of them were jibber jabbering on about.
Eventually they left. At no point had they tried to converse with me but then again my face probably resembled a bulldog licking piss off a nettle. Not the most welcoming of expressions I can assure you. Mrs Grump affectionately refers to it as my, “Cod Face.”
I still haven’t finished that article.
Tomorrow I’m walking to Greggs.