food / travel

What Your Office Lunch Habits Say About You

Whether you're a bento devotee, daily cafeteria goer or three-martini luncher, you are being watched (and judged) by your colleagues.

'You're healthy. And boring.'
"You're healthy. And boring."
Nicolas Santolaria

PARIS — Office psychology (a not-too-distant cousin of pop psychology) assigns a tacit typology to individuals by the way they eat. If you spend all your meals scarfing down a quinoa salad, still in its plastic wrap, deep in conversation with your desk lamp, you risk finding yourself — perhaps incorrectly — profiled as "moderately social."

It doesn't matter if you have stomach problems, or if you're on a diet. What matters is the coarse symbolism of your attitude, this isolationism that keeps you perched on your little throne. Ultimately, when it comes to lunch at work, it's rather difficult to change your image, and an attitude that you adopted at the beginning without thinking runs the risk of marking you as persona non grata.

If you embark, head lowered, on the journey to the cafeteria at 11:52 A.M. without fail, head filled with visions of grated carrots, it demands an enormous amount of effort to suddenly become the lunchtime hipster who winks at the server: "Okay, so shall we try some of that new Lebanese food?!"

It's strange, but that's how it is: your attitude while eating can quickly become an identifying feature and can define you more accurately than your involvement in the actual workplace.

If you occupy a position of power, your way of eating is even more closely scrutinized.

A devotee of the bento, that little chic, compartmentalized box? One can quickly conclude that your entire existence is dominated by your excessive Instagram use, creating an obnoxiously aesthetic streak in your psyche. You don't just eat — you parade under fake-minimalist tinsel, say your colleagues, without caring to learn more. In a similar way, calling up Deliveroo every day will have you classified as one of those immoral zealots of Uberization.

This very approximate "gastropsychology" draws gregarious comparisons to just as definitive (and just as erroneous) conclusions.

If you always lunch with the same crew at the neighborhood watering hole, and always order the same dish, one can see you to be socially exclusive and unadventurous. You could fight this by calling the French digital platform Random Lunch, and trusting its algorithm of random meal creation and teambuilding.

If you occupy a position of power, your way of eating is even more closely scrutinized, and each decision can be filled with meaning (or, with nonsense). Dining with the plebes in the middle of the cafeteria could be perceived as a sign of humility, but that could suddenly come back to bite you if you forget to clear your plate.

"No, but, look at him, who does he think he is? On top of that, he just ate one bite of his ham sandwich," the secretaries will whisper, with a ruthless disdain of indigestion.

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Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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Welcome to Monday, where China is on high COVID alert as Lunar New Year celebrations kick off, Tonga reels from a massive underwater eruption, and a veteran FBI agent may have found out who betrayed Anne Frank to the Nazis. Meanwhile, Russian daily Kommersant recounts how Kazakhstan has passed from one strongman to another.

[*Sundanese - Indonesia]

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