Monday, May 17, 2010

Random Conversations at the Office

So. Um. I recently had the following conversation with a coworker who had a question. I was pulling my book (An Abundance of Katherines by John Green) out of my purse to get ready to sneak off to a quiet spot to read during my lunch break when my colleague approached. I set the book on my desk and immediately turned it over onto its back, then grabbed a memo and put it on top of the book.

Coworker (giving me a knowing look): Embarrassing cover?

Me (I pull the book out to show the person the harmless cover): No, not at all.

Coworker: What then?

Me: It's the people on the cover. I don't like them staring at me from the front cover. And the publisher had to go and put a person on the back too.

Coworker: You know that's weird, right?

Me: I prefer the term "quirky".

Me: I'm going to lunch now. See you in half an hour.

Coworker: You're not going to lunch. Lunch is for eating. You're going to read.

Me: Same thing.

Settling into an armchair in the breakroom at work one afternoon, opening a book to read, I was looking forward to a little reading time. Only, in walk two of my colleagues. We'll call them Matthew and Maude.

Maude: What are you reading?

Me: A book by Don Carpenter called Hard Rain Falling.

Matthew: Is it any good?

Me: I'm enjoying it so far.

Matthew and Maude proceed to take the chairs nearest me. Clearly, my lunch half hour would not be spent reading or eating. They wanted my opinion on something. I was wordlessly cursing them for taking my precious reading time away. It wasn't their lunch break that was disrupted, by the way. This is why I prefer to read somewhere I cannot be found.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Well, don't you hate those interruptions? For me, I'm peeved when someone turns the book (to view the cover) without asking me when I have it turn the other way.
    (It's not that the cover is embarrasing, but I find it rude.)
    It happened to me once, and anyway from then onwards I make sure to keep my book into the drawer whenever I'm not reading it.

  2. OMG, I can so relate to this Wendy. Since I went back to work full time nearly 2 months ago, I so look forward to my (1) hour uninterrupted reading time at lunch. Lately, I find myself changing locations, so I won't run into anyone who wants to chat. Fortunately, working on a college campus, there are plenty of little nooks and crannies to hide indoors and that! My favorite spot has been near the late, where I get to watch a family of geese and their babies, each day as well.

  3. Happy was the day when I got my own office (back when I worked that is). I just closed that door and locked it when I needed my private reading time. Of course, that never stopped them from knocking or calling me, but it at least slowed them down.

  4. Melody - I would hate that! The least the person could do is ask.

    There are a couple of women in the office who will rifle through someone's desk looking for a book to read if they've run out. That always bothers me too, especially since they don't have permission.

    Diane - I bet you find quite a few nice places to read on campus! Sitting by the lake sounds wonderful, especially if the weather is cooperating. Right now it's not so bad to sit in my car and read, which is nice. It's quiet at least.

    Sandy - Having an office of my own, at least for breaks, would be so nice. I am glad you took advantage of having a private one when you worked outside the home. When I had my own office in the old building, I would close the door and turn out the overhead light and read by the light coming in the window. Because there was no light filtering out from under the door, everyone assumed I was gone. :-) My current office is set up much differently and we supervisors sit in cubicles right beside our staff. It has its advantages, just not when I want to get away for a little while to take a break and read.

  5. I work in a city, so it's easy for me to leave the building to read somewhere else on my lunch break! It's worth the $2 cup of tea or coffee for that uninterrupted reading time :-)

  6. I purposely leave the books that I am reading out in the open so they can prompt conversation. I have people come by my office just to see what I am reading. It's my way of being social.

    Speaking of reading at lunch, I brought Legend of a Suicide to read at lunch. I have to finish it today but I had no idea that I'd finish it this morning (could not put it down) so now I am book-less for lunch.

    I have books to choose from but don't want to start any of the since I have three already started at home.

  7. I'm lucky to have an office with a door (at least for now ...), and treasure my lunchtime. I tend to bring my lunch even more often, so I don't lose precious reading minutes in walking to/from the cafeteria! Seriously, even 15 minutes with my book can re-energize me for the rest of the day. It boggles my mind when people have the nerve to knock on my door during lunchtime, and it's even worse if they want to get chatty about what I'm reading !!

    Thanks for sharing -- I think we all deal with this kind of stuff from time to time!

  8. That's one perk of an office...Anna and I shut the door at lunch...though in many cases interruptions still occur from the boss.

  9. I can so relate to this post. I've taken to reading out in my car at lunch since that seems to be the ONLY place that people at the office can't find me when I am trying to read!

  10. Isn't it frustrating when people interpret your reading time as free time for them to hold conversations with you?? It almost drove me crazy at my last job. And I am always a little non-plussed when people make me feel weird because I am an avid reader. It feels to much like judging. Thanks for sharing your stories with us!

  11. Having lunch somewhere in the open with a book used to be a "don't bother me, I'm reading!" signal - I guess not any more. I'm lucky to have my own office, but maybe less lucky because I eat at my desk :-).

    And I don't like feeling like the people on the cover of my book are watching me, either!

  12. There is nothing at all weird about that - I don't like people staring at me from books and catalogs, either. Perfectly normal.

    I think it's great that people are interested in what I'm reading, but I don't like being interrupted. Unless, of course, they are also an avid reader and we get to talking about books. (I still miss my reading time, though.)

  13. At my previous job I got a bit of grief from coworkers about being antisocial because I wanted to read during lunch. I always told them that if we weren't going to discuss work, then I was all up for hanging out. Seriously, work isn't paying me during lunch so why should I think about it! :)

    Hope you were able to enjoy your lunch hour the next time!

  14. I've often "wordlessly" cussed out coworkers for interrupting my reading time!!!

  15. I wonder if that's the deep-seated reason why I hate covers with people's faces on them? LOL

  16. I get pissy when interrupted while reading. ESPECIALLY at the end. Just do NOT talk to me when I'm at the end. My husband made the error in bothering me while I was finishing up the final Harry Potter.... really, it's a wonder he made it.

  17. I have had the same reaction to having people interrupt me when I'm planning to sneak in a little reading!

  18. I used to read at lunch time a long time ago, but I stopped because I was having trouble putting the books down and going back to work after the designated time! Instead I tend to do a bit of blog hopping at lunch time (which is why I am here commenting now instead of a bit later)

    I do get frustrated at interuptions on the train and at home though!

    Have to say, not sure that I have met many people with your particular brand of quirk! ;-)

  19. I prefer quirky over weird, too! If wealthy people can be labelled eccentric, than bookish people can go with quirky. It sounds more charming.

  20. I get looks all the time for reading during lunch but what the heck, they can watch me read. I look very serious (intentionally) while reading over my food, so that IF anybody sees me at all, they'll have to approach with caution and at their own risk. I have a built-in scowl these days but I think it makes me look "serious" so I'm not complaining. Ahahahaaa...

  21. That's why I used to read in the car when I worked in an office. :) One lady in particular used to like to sit right across from me and eat - talking with food in her mouth and interrupting my reading time. Ugh! Now my reading is interrupted by my kids' chatter. Not so bad (at least if they talk with food in their mouths I can tell them to knock it off).

  22. Oh, and the people on the cover thing - I have several books that ended up with an eye looking out right from the spine of the book. And I keep my shelves in the bedroom, so it sometimes seems like they're watching me. I totally get why you covered the book.

  23. I'm sorry you got interrupted during your lunch hour while reading your book. I hate to get interrupted too. Especially when I am so involved with the book. I hope you have a good rest of the weekend :)

  24. Aarti - I only have a half hour lunch break during the day and there's nowhere I could go and get back with time to spare unfortunately. I envy you being able to do that!

    Ti - I generally don't mind when people strike up conversations with me about what I am reading. Unfortunately, my coworkers wanted to talk work, which is something I don't like to do on the rare chance I actually get to take a lunch, as usually I end up having to work through it anyway. Any downtime is a gift and I like to take advantage of it to its fullest when I am able.

    Oh! I hate it when I'm stuck book-less. Hopefully you were able to solve your dilemma!

    Laura - I bring my lunch to work too. I only get a half hour, so every minute is vital. Of course, there are many days when I don't get a lunch but that's a different story . . .

    Serena - I miss being able to shut an office door while I'm reading.

    Kathleen - I always dread the summer months when it's too hot to read in the car. When I'm desperate, I turn the car on and let the air conditioner run, but I try not to do that often.

    There's another lady in my office who sits in her car and reads during her lunch break. She's always there when I'm on my way out. :-)

    Heather - And it's worse when they want to talk about work. The last thing I want to do on my lunch break is talk about work if I can help it. I really need that time away.

    I'm fortunate that I work in an office where quite a few people read. It wasn't always like that though. When I go to meetings away from the office, I always feel weird pulling out a book to read while I wait for everyone to arrive. Everyone thinks I should be catching up on work or spending time on the cell phone. Just because they're behind, doesn't mean I am.

  25. Florinda - Some of my coworkers are really respectful and won't interrupt when I am reading--or at least they'll move on quickly. I think I've got most people trained to do that, just not everyone. ;-)

    Lisa (Minds Alive) - Growing up, I didn't like having pictures of people tacked to my bedroom walls because I didn't want them staring at me. Animals, on the other hand, were a different story.

    I'm like you in that I don't mind talking to others about reading. I welcome it often times. I just don't want to talk about work when I could be reading.

    Iliana - Amen! That's exactly how I feel! I don't get paid during my lunch break either, and so when I get it, the last thing I want is to think about work. I need that little break.

    Staci - Haha! It's a good thing our coworkers can't read our minds, isn't it?

    Carrie - LOL Maybe!

    Nicole - Oh my gosh! Me too. It never fails too that my dog will decide he must go out right on those last few pages or my husband will decide he needs attention. You'd think he'd understand by now what a big crime that is in our house. Sometimes I think he does it on purpose. It would be equivalent to me turning off the computer as he's just about to win his game. Well, it feels like that anyway.

  26. Lisa (Lit&Life) - It's especially hard when I've been waiting all morning to jump back into my book.

    Marg - I have that problem too sometimes. I find that short story reading sometimes helps in those cases, but not always.

    I can't stay at my desk during my lunch break or I'll never be allowed to actually get away from the work. People don't respect my free time unless I'm actually away from my desk--and obviously, not even then sometimes.

    Yes, the people staring out at me form covers is odd. I'm not sure where that comes from . . .

    Jill - Quirky just sounds better. Like you said, charming. :-)

    Alice - I've learned that if I don't say hello to everyone who walk in the room, they generally leave me alone. My two colleagues who joined me are so rarely in the breakroom though that they probably don't know the "rules". Haha

    There are days when I'm quite social though, so it balances out.

    Alyce - Ugh! I hate that. I especially hate it when someone walks in and settles in the chair across from me while talking on her cell phone the entire time. I can block quite a bit out, but loud cell phone conversations aren't one of them.

    I hate it when people talk with their mounts full. :-(

    Julia - Yes, it's especially annoying when I'm really into my book! I hope you are enjoying your weekend too, Julia.

  27. HATE when people start conversations with me while I'm reading! That should be punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

  28. Jen - LOL And we think the prisons are full now!

  29. I wish I had the luxury of reading at lunch. Just doesn't work in my current situation. Interesting conversations - thanks for sharing.

  30. Joy - I don't always get a lunch break, but I try to if I can. I need the break during the day, as crazy as my days get sometimes.

  31. Hee hee...funny stories :oD I used to work in a library, so if anyone was reading a book in the lunch room, you knew to tread carefully and if you had to talk, make it quick!


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