Lunch Break Reflections

I’m staring at the green striped wallpaper of the cafe inside a Barnes & Noble. The cafe sells Starbucks coffee but isn’t actually a Starbucks. (If it looks like a Starbucks, and smells like a Starbucks then it must be a Starbucks — unless it’s in a Barnes & Noble.)

From where I’m sitting I can see the tops of trees that have the misfortune of calling the parking lot of an outdoor mall home. A single lanky light post interjects itself among the dispersed canopy, taunting the trees below it to grow taller, try harder. Never mind that the metal post was most likely erected in a day while the wooden stalks have spent decades trying to get to where they are.

I try guessing the age of one of the larger trees.

Is that what a 50 year-old tree looks? Seems kind of small. How long has this mall been here? Were the trees there before and people just built around them or were they part of the development plan? Is this something I should Google?

No, I’ve only got an hour lunch break and I told myself I would spend it writing, not checking my phone.

It’s a beautiful day in February, pure and blue with no sign of the dark quilted clouds that covered yesterday’s sky. Man, do I feel ugly. Gross is a better way of describing it. My breath is stale from the coffee I just drank and that makes me angry. “Why angry?” I wonder.

As I give it some thought, I identify the feeling more as frustration than anger. I am annoyed that I paid money to have bad breath. I am annoyed that if someone talks to me at work, I will feel self conscious about having bad breath. I am annoyed that a big part of my job involves making small talk with people. I am annoyed that, like the trees in the parking lot, I am stuck in an unnatural environment. And I am annoyed that, unlike the trees in the parking lot, I have no excuse for being stuck. This is where I’ve chosen to grow. And today I am so aware of how old I am growing that the child within me is beginning to panic. “Are we really trapped?” she wants to know.

I want to be rescued, uprooted and carried away. Or at the very least I want to leave work early. It’s 42 minutes ’til 5 pm. The me-of-last-week would’ve casually packed up my things and left at this time. But the me-of-this-week was told that people have noticed the me-of-last-week leaving early. They’re starting to talk about it. And here I thought we were all friends. I also thought no one would care. Many people leave early to work form home, and I started to feel like I could too.

Although I suppose my role as Office Coordinator (a glorified, politically correct way of saying receptionist) does sort of limit me to the physical office space even if there’s hardly anything for me to do. Someone probably got tired of having to open the door for the UPS guy who usually shows up well after 4 pm.

And so here I sit behind an oversized desk, waiting for the clock to set me free so that I can close my computer and walk to my car and merge on to I-35 S and sit some more.