Friday, January 8, 2016

Missed Meal

It's an official term--according to the rules of certain unions, if you don't get a break of a specified length at a specified time, you get paid extra (how much extra varies widely by union).

Now, I am a person who goes to almost any gig with enough food to sustain me for a couple of days. Okay, well, maybe not quite that long, but for a good while. Perhaps it is a throwback to my pregnancy days, when waiting too long to eat produced morbid hunger and nausea.  Perhaps it is an inability to make food choices in the middle of a work day, or an aversion to being bound by the prices and selection of whatever cafes or food trucks happen to be close by. Whatever the reason, for me, a meal break is rarely about having time to eat. I can eat on the fly. I've eaten at my editing station, in the corner of a rehearsal room or a soundstage (don't tell the scenic artists!), or at whatever desk I happen to be occupying. I can't help but appreciate a formally established "break from the action," but eating happens either way.

But production is production, and production can't always stop at meal time (unless the production manager, who is counting every penny of every one of those missed meal penalty payments, decrees it so. This happens. Often.).

Today, with this news story and that, there just wasn't time for a meal break. And it was actually one of the better days I've had at work. The truth is, when I'm at work, I'd rather be working. When I'm there for eight hours (or ten or twelve or fourteen), the time almost always goes faster, the satisfaction is almost always greater, I almost always feel more fulfilled if my mind, not just my stomach, is doing its job.

Not every job will come with a meal break or a meal penalty or any sort of consideration of eating or stopping at all. I'm not advocating for hours of noses to the grindstone. But if work sometimes requires a missed meal, I'm okay with that. At the end of eight hours (or ten or twelve or fourteen), I would like to think I'll have something--and not just an empty food container--to show for it.

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