I believe this blog can serve as some sort of “survival guide” for aspiring journalists. I’ve got to pay it forward, you know? Listen up, newbies. It’s so easy to fall victim to the curse of the desklunch. Don’t do it!
Because our industry is dying a slow and painful death our boss is militant about all employees clocking out for an hour each day to save money. Makes sense, right? Well, here’s the problem with that:
a) Hardly anyone at my station gets paid enough money to actually leave for lunch everyday and there really isn’t a suitable designated “break room” area which means most of us just inhale our PB&J at our desks (or nondesk, in my case.)
b) There is always something that needs get done so it isn’t unusual to wind up working through lunch anyway, furiously writing and checking scripts and making phone calls between mouthfuls.
A number of my coworkers just bite it by working at their desk during lunch time and conceding to clock out for an hour despite the fact that they never stopped working. Hence, THE EVIL DESKLUNCH.
I feel like I should be committed to an insane asylum because I seem to be the only one who fights and refuses to succumb to the desklunch!
In a bout of both rebellion and naivety, I used to refuse to clock out if I didn’t stop working. I figured that if I stayed and worked through my lunch break (and by “worked” I don’t mean “sat my fat ass on Facebook for an hour pretending to work,” I mean “legitimately worked“) I should get paid, right? It might not sound like much but earning that little extra $9 each day really made a difference.
But that lasted only a few pay periods before I got severely reprimanded for being too expensive.
So rather than clocking out and eating my lunch at my nondesk working away for free, I’ve begun taking my lunch hour very seriously in an attempt to maintain my sanity. Getting out of the newsroom for a little bit does wonders for the underpaid journalist’s brain. Despite my considerable lack of funds, I manage to escape the artificially lit, windowless newsroom almost daily.
In the parking lot, there are a few patches of scratchy green stuff that tries to pass for grass. Every day it’s feasible, I walk out to the parking lot around 1:00pm and head to my car. I then take out a little quilt my aunt made me that I keep folded up in the backseat for occasions such as lunch time. I sprawl out the blue squares on the pathetic green tuft and bust out one of the four books in which I’m currently engrossed and maybe tag team it with my iPod. And for an hour, I absolutely don’t work.
I know this may seem to be a ridiculous topic to actually write about. But the next time you meet a journalist, ask him or her the last time he or she took a legitimate lunch break. If they respond by just laughing, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If they respond by saying something like, “Oh I take a lunch break everyday,” you can assume you’re either talking to me (now that’s just weird) or a news director. And sorry, but news directors don’t count.
Silly me. I thought my personal desklunch revolt had gone quietly unnoticed until a few reporters started poking fun at me. (“What are you, homeless or something?”) And then I heard one of the suits go up to one of the engineers and ask, “Who’s the girl in the grass?”
Listen closely to me desklunch. You will be defeated. Even when Summer hits and I am forced to sit in that scratchy grass in 100+ degree heat with stifling humidity after covering myself in SPF 80, I refuse to work between 1:00 and 2:00pm. Consider yourself WARNED.