An article published by Vogue.co.uk today has ruffled some feathers among Twitter’s usual frantic keyboard warriors, snarks, and those with their eyes permanently glued to some sort of digital device. Provoking them, this time, the headline: Cheers! Why The Long Lunch Is Back in Fashion.
While the feature is referring mainly to a London-based catchment audience, it takes subtle digs at how Londoners had turned their back on lavishly-long (usually liquid!) weekday lunches due to a “Calvinist work ethic imported from America.” Wow, ok, seen. Like many others, I read the piece while flicking through web browsers with a plastic spoon in one hand and a cardboard container of passable-tasting-$6.47-390kcal-soup in the other mitt. I can’t quite even picture the world that’s being depicted. Cigars! Oysters! Champagne?! Actual conversations, three-course selections, martinis??? What jobs do these people have and where do I apply. The article brought back PTSD from reading last year’s viral opinion piece about How Millennials Have Killed the Manhattan Power Lunch. Indeed we have, I guess? I don’t even know what a power lunch entails. The only part that seemed vaguely familiar in the Vogue piece was the bit about three blokes drinking 38 pints of Guinness, because I’m from Ireland and that sounds like a very tame lunch altogether?
At one point, the author suggests that our new WFH culture makes it “easier for people to bunk off for a few hours in the middle of the day.” Au contraire, mon frère. If anything, I’ve found that having your laptop and phone almost surgically attached to your hand has meant that we’re all more likely to answer an email immediately—even at an ungodly late or early hour—because your bedroom is now your conference room and your kitchen is now your break room.
“The other day a single customer ordered 40 native oysters. I haven’t seen that since the golden age of the lunch in the late ’70s and ’80s” https://t.co/PveLHSDlrG
— British Vogue (@BritishVogue) October 29, 2020
While I can’t speak for everyone, to me it seems like those who are still left in New York City—definitely not “a ghost town”, but for sure witnessing a depleted work force for one reason or another—are working harder and later than ever before. Whether it’s picking up slack on smaller teams or taking on unprecedented roles, everyone is just permanently on a hamster wheel of “busy, busy, busy, sorry for the delay; I’ve just been so busy” … at least, this is the excuse that the guys who inevitably ghost me on Hinge give me.
To his credit, the author does acknowledge that not everyone is in the position to indulge in this affable ‘out to lunch’ lifestyle—but assures people that they should at least take a walk around the block for 20 minutes, or try to have a social interaction to break up the day. Fair!
Alas, my version of achieving some semblance of this work/life balance he is hinting at has become a daily pilgrimage to our socially-distanced office. A veritable oasis of calm and serenity, compared to working from a Brooklyn apartment with two other roommates. (Let me tell you, there’s no long lunch when you’re all competing to use the toaster/kettle/oven/sink between the hours of 1-3 PM. It’s almost indigestion-inducing levels of speedy meal prepping.)
But all things considered, the fact that this article had the Twitterati up in arms suggests that yeah, we probably do need to eat our ‘sad desk salad’ lunches at a normal pace, or replace our IV drip of cold brew with a zen-restoring cup of tea… or whatever these Londonders are quaffing.
.@Pret's unlimited coffee pass has changed my life. This is day two.
— Freya Drohan (@freyadro) October 29, 2020
Or what the hell! Maybe we should just make like these jovial folks across the pond, yell carpe diem over clinking glasses of champers, and turn on the OOO for a midday lark. When my boss reads this and wonders where I am, let the record state that I’m gone to 21 Club and will be back at 4.30pm, or tomorrow morning. Hold my calls!