In a happy turn of events our good friend Robert* who used to work at the same company as GAP now works at the same company as I do. Robert has been a friend of ours for many years, but as GAP’s colleague the two of them had spent significantly more time together and had developed a pretty finely tuned lunchtime routine. Now that Robert and I are in the same neck of the woods we are finding a periodic lunch routine of our own. However, Robert has some very specific ideas about when lunch should be scheduled and he is doing his best to train me.
I crossed some sort of invisible line a couple of times by IM-ing him at 11:25 asking, “Hey, do you have lunch plans?” He always did and I was on my own. No harm, no foul. But he took the opportunity to explain to me that he “takes lunch seriously” and doesn’t plan it at the last minute. So another time I messaged him for lunch “later in the week” and was confused when he said he didn’t want to commit to plans so far in advance. I left all future lunch plans in Robert’s hands, as I was clearly not up to speed on his rules.
Then last week he explained to me how one should go about planning lunch. (It’s a miracle I’ve made it this far in life…) Per Robert’s Rules of Lunch, prime lunch-planning time is between 9:45 and 10:30. You do your part to corral a group, and if the group doesn’t materialize then you don’t force it. You have to leave it to the lunch gods. On that particular day I was excited at the potential that GAP might join us for lunch and mentioned to Robert that I planned to call GAP to see if he would be able to make it. I was shut down – instructed not to push it. As it turned out, GAP was not able to make it and I was disappointed. But Robert told me to trust in the lunch gods; that sometimes plans fall apart and you think you’ve been hung out to dry and then the lunch gods pull through with something better than you could have planned yourself.
The lunch gods pulled through. I was still disappointed that GAP couldn’t come, but because he had to bail we also bailed on our plans to meet at the nearby Indian buffet. This meant as we were driving to a nearby Five Guys we drove past a little dive-ish looking Thai place and Robert mentioned in passing was good. ”I could go for some Thai,” I said, because good Thai can be hard to come by in this part of the country, so we flipped a U and went back. And let me tell you, everything about that lunch hit the spot. It was a gorgeous day and we were able to snag an outdoor table. The service was good and my yellow curry was great. Robert’s Pad Thai was also terrific. We had great conversation, and it was a great outing. Robert was quick to point out that the lunch gods had in fact pulled through.
This whole zen philosophy of the lunch gods does not necessarily prompt a paradigmatic shift in my approach to making plans, but it is a good reminder. For someone who a planner by nature, there is something to be said for letting things unfold without manipulation. There is something to be said for giving chance, fate, the lunch gods, what have you, to get a word in edgewise and turn the tables in unforeseen and delightful ways.
I’m sure the lunch gods won’t always pull through. There will be plenty of days when I end up getting a veggie burger in the company cafeteria. But if I give them the chance the lunch gods will show up from time to time, and I will be glad that Robert taught me how to listen for their call.
*Not his real name.