|See that guy at the table, by himself - that's what I wish my lunch was like|
"Yet there is no country and no people, I think, who can look forward to the age of leisure and of abundance without a dread. For we have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy."
This quote comes from John Maynard Keynes' essay "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren." His prediction, based on the rate of economic growth at the time, was that our society would be so wealthy that, if we kept the living standard constant, proceeding generations would be able to enjoy more leisure time than previous ones. Unfortunately this ended up in the "wishful-thinking" bin of historical ideas.
So what does this have to do with Po' Nutrition Fax?
As I've said before, I enjoy the little things in life. I have a job I don't particularly enjoy nor do I find much personal meaning in it. While I have to spend at least 8 hours a day supporting the higher living standards that Mr. Keynes failed to include in his prediction, for an hour a day I get a break to relax and not spend time and energy doing pointless things for other people. However, we unfortunately live in an era where having a drink on your lunch break is largely frowned upon; I fail to understand why this is so. This post is an attempt to clearly outline my thoughts on the subject.
My first point in support of "drink with lunch" position has to do with stress created by jobs. I'd be willing to bet most people find their work stressful. Even if it's an "enjoyable" job, all jobs tend to involve a certain level of stress. Alcohol, as a mild depressant, is an effective stress-reliever (of course, if consumed moderately). Why not have one midday drink to relax? I'd argue that it's a pretty cost-effective way of reducing on-the-job stress, especially as health insurance costs are increasing. Sitting in a lunch room surrounded by co-workers talking about work while not actually having to work is not a relaxing atmosphere. We all need an alternative.
My second point is one of increasing group cohesion. If the Happy Hour is acceptable (although not officially acceptable but implicitly approved), why is it not alright to have one midday drink with co-workers? Coupled with the previous point, if everyone is relaxing together, everyone will return to work feeling better and, perhaps, more willing to collaborate with one another.
Third point, non-macrobrewed beer is probably healthier than soda. Most people, that I've noticed, order soda/pop with lunch - I think beer is the better choice.
Now, I'll try to address the arguments against a drink (or two) with lunch.
The main point, I'm assuming, has to do with over-consumption of alcohol. People do stupid things when they've had too much to drink. Therefore, if someone drinks too much on their lunch break they will do stupid things at work. My question: why would someone get wasted before going back to work, especially if the chances of them getting fired for doing so are pretty high?
While I've previously made mention of my views on the ridiculous alcohol-consumption habits in the U.S., the view that most will over-consume when given the chance isn't necessarily true. The U.S. standard set by the Center for Disease Control for "regular drinker" is 12 drinks over the course of a year! That's a minimum of one drink a month (if you are 18 years or older) to be considered a regular drinker! Really, America, really? Regular and moderate consumption of alcohol is only one or two cocktails away from having a disease that needs as much federal attention as Influenza and Ebola? But I am digressing - those of us who enjoy a pint of beer, or a glass of wine, or maybe a snifter of brandy don't necessarily need more than one drink to feel relaxed. Temptation is there but as reasonable and sensible adults, we are more than capable of saying "I'll just have one" - and we will do just that.
Another concern is driving after consuming alcohol. In an era of business parks and sprawling suburbs, driving is an unfortunate necessity. I wouldn't want anyway to drink too much and drive back to work, or anywhere for that matter. This is a valid concern for those against my "drink with lunch" position. I refer back to my previous point though - one drink will put no one over the legal limit and with an hour to enjoy it, it will barely register. Some may say that any impairment is unacceptable and while I agree that it should be minimized, there are many people who are eating or drinking (coffee/soda) while driving, fixing their hair, picking their nose, on the phone or texting, playing with the radio, or starting at the attractive person in the other car that are (arguably) just as much of a nuisance as the person who had one drink over the course of an hour.
Returning to Keynes quote and the internet-found photo at the top, if we have to live in an era where we cannot have the leisure time Keynes wanted us to have, then let's enjoy what little time we do get in the ways we want to.
I'll even buy your drink too.