In Days of Yore there was TeaTime: a mid-morning (and mid-afternoon) affair that often involved: little sandwiches, salads, sweets, ‘finger food’ and snax.
My Bostonian Mom taught me about brewing a proper cuppa, serving tea with milk and plenty of sugar, and stretching break time to a full hour of relaxation and enjoyment (…Big Business could certainly learn a lesson or two from Mom!).
Thusly, another reason to ‘rise and shine’ was not just ‘cause of Froot Loops at breakfast, but the mid-morning snack two hours later.
TeaTime repeated mid-afternoon just as lunch was finished digesting.
All in all it was an Earmark of Civilization.
TeaTime has, sadly, gone the way of Mom: you’ll find it (and her) alive and well in assisted living centers and a few selected coffee shops – but not many other places.
An hour of break time two times a day has instead been replaced by the Business Model: a measly ten minutes mid-morn and ten (cheesy) minutes mid-afternoon; five of which are spent in line patiently awaiting one’s turn at the company’s not-so-altruistic Snack Vending Machine.
Heaven help those who dally at the bell: there’s always a run on Doritos!
On my last traditional company job many moons ago, I reincarnated TeaTime.
Through a careful combination of arriving to work 30 minutes early and leaving 30 minutes later (a practice since banned and scorned by specific legalese in Company Handbooks across the country), I gots me a whole teatime hour mid-morning.
So when Pavlov’s Bell rang for the state-mandated 10-Minute Break, I brewed myself a cuppa and broke out my own private chip stash, bravely risking HR complaints and worker animosity simultaneously.
My more savvy co-workers, however, saw opportunity instead of adversity; and so my little one-woman revolution grew and attracted followers until one memorable day when the VP of Sales walked into the break room only to discover a virtual loungefull of higher-IQ employees seated at flowery tablecloth-covered café tables imbibing tea and choosing from Diane’s Variety Chips Display.
Yup, if you saw the wisdom of punching in 30 minutes early and out 30 minutes late (and had a mere few quarters of pocket change), you too could spend your mid-morning break at Diane’s TeaTime instead of in line with the lemmings at the company vending machine.
Let the chips fall where they may: it was popular, there were NO lines of nervous Chips Addicts worried that the largess (and their break) would be gone by the time they reached the head ‘o the vending machine lineup, and best of all: there was a whopping 50 minutes to imbibe and relax before it was time to return, satiated and happy, to the daily grind.
Speakin’ of which – Diane’s Gourmet Coffee was ALSO quite a hit.
Also letting more chips fall where they may: Bucko Industries may have been crackin’ the work whip, but MY larder was filled with plenty ‘o chips, gourmet coffee and tea, and relaxation and laughter – which ultimately provoked camaraderie in the ranks and unwittingly set the stage for the threat of a labor strike and the introduction of unionization when a jealous management, seeing their vending machine kick-backs fall off, sought to pull the proverbial rug on what they whimsically (but pointedly) called The Great TeaTime Revolt.
Sadly, the union got in and immediately abolished TeaTime as ‘unconstitutional’ (or something).
They DID replace the vending machines with chips-only versions to eliminate shortages (and possible full-scale revolt among the ranks).
And HR took care of the sobbing dissidents who had become addicted to tea, a one-hour mid-morning break time, and the relaxing laughter of a plebian lunchroom transformed with a wee bit ‘o magic.
Me: I quit the company soon after the union got in and took my chips and tea with me.
The chips indeed fell and now, as a work-at-home, I again enjoy a mid-morning hour’s break daily: truly the Bastion of Civilization.
Earl Grey, anyone?