If you think that the most
popular words are 'I love you`, you must be a juvenile delinquent. The
most popular words are the frequently uttered 'Let`s have lunch.`
Time was when everybody from the factory and mill worker to the white collar worker, watchman to the foreman (and perhaps the chairman) used to bring the lunch box from home, if they did not have a canteen in their organisation. In Bombay, the dabbawala Punekar used to supply lunch boxes to mill and office workers. The lunch box has become passe. Now lunching out has become the order of the day.
Colleagues lunch together, but not all colleagues. It is only birds of a feather that lunch together. You can never see rivals in an office lunching together. But pretences are maintained and invitations are made:
''Joining me for lunch?`` asks a colleague.
''I`ll join you later`` says the blighter who does not really want to join and adds, ''I have this important report to file.`` The former very well knows the latter does not want to join him.
Besides, office lunching is always parallel. Men of equal ranks lunch together. Some avoid discussing office politics over lunch, but some lunch together only to discuss it. The first thing ambitious people learn is that lunch is political. Seniors and subordinates never lunch together unless there is a catch in it or considerations other than professional. Only if there was more vertical lunching there would be more industrial peace.
The business lunch has become a part of the corporate culture and sometimes also referred to as the 'power lunch`, during which business deals are clinched. Executives and ad men, bankers and clients, bureaucrats and industrialists, consultants and entrepreneurs engage themselves in this popular ritual.
'Why don`t we meet at lunch` a hard bargainer may bait a prospect. In such cases the lunch is only a ploy to soften a tough nut. Tough nuts are known to crack over a sumptuous meal. But there are some who wouldn`t budge an inch, lunch or no lunch.
Whatever be the kind of lunch 'there is no free lunch` as the saying goes. This saying was prevalent in the USA in the 1840s. It gained currency in modern times when the well- known economist Milton Friedman, made it the title of his book. It simply means 'there is no getting something for nothing.`
There may be no free lunch but there are various kinds of lunches which a person with a keen eye may be able to distinguish.
Like the Parkinson`s lunch where lunch expands to fill the time and importance attached to it. Then there`s Peter`s lunch where one lunches up to the level of his incompetence. In Murphy`s lunch (not Eddie Murphy!) everything that can go wrong at lunch does.
A lunch sometimes has a catalytic effect or the 'Newton`s syndrome`: Every lunch has an equal and opposite lunch or in other words a good lunch deserves another.
Whatever significance is attached to a lunch, it is good to remember one thing: A lunch is a lunch is a lunch. To modify the words of Tennyson, 'It is better to have lunched and lost than not to have lunched at all.`