Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Meeting and Eating

I must confess at the start of this post  that I'm probably at one extreme on the issue that I'm posting about, but perhaps not too extremely.  It's about combining meals with communal activity.

So, I do find the smell and/or noise of people eating a bit distracting.  I don't mind it in a restaurant.  After all, you go there knowing there's food there, but in other circumstances, it's annoying.  Coming home late from London can be quite a pain if someone comes and sits next to you with a hot meal bought from one on Waterloo's quality fast food joints.  I mean, you are stuck there in a train carriage with no open windows and have to smell your uninvited companion's food.  Thankfully, the Underground has recognised the selfishness of forcing your hot dinner on everyone else, and banned it for that very reason.

Not so long ago, it was considered impolite to eat in public, and now it seems to be considered an inalienable right to be able to munch on a snack wherever and whenever you might be.  I've certainly had people come to my office to see me carrying a bacon sandwich and thinking it okay to sit there and eat it during a meeting. While part of me is tempted to blame "young people" who see perpetual eating as a right, in reality, it seems more part of a culture of not taking breaks.  It has become normal to schedule lunchtime meetings and say that it's okay to bring your lunch along and we can carry on working through the ritual of eating.

Partly it's just my foible, but when I'm trying to listen to something important but there's someone sitting next to me exceeding the decibels of the speaker by eating an apple, then the lunchtime meeting is pointless.  If I'm trying to listen to someone giving a talk, but the absolute right to munch crisps is sacrosanct, then I may as well not attend a talk.

Okay, I may be the over-sensitive one, but I don't think it's unreasonable to stop for lunch, or dinner, and not mix them up with talks, meetings, or anything else.  I get the feeling that I'm completely out of touch on this.  Am I?