Nobody brings their lunch, so I don’t bring a lunch. Similarly, nobody eats at their desk, so I don’t eat at my desk, in defiance of the deeply-ingrained (and admittedly bad) habit that I’ve gotten into over the past several years (because I can already imagine the Purrito reading this post, we’ll qualify that with a “when I eat lunch.” Ahem. Anyway…) If I’m to maintain my facade as a duck that’s not weird (not overly weird, if we’re being less generous), I thus need somewhere to go and, most of the time, somewhere to eat.
Somewhere to eat is fulfilled by a number of options, most of which I completely ignore. There is the food court at Le Quatre Temps which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t a food court or in a shopping mall. A local grocery store caters to the business lunch crowd (and that of the local University, when it’s in session) and has a decent selection of sandwiches and chips, and, most importantly, Orangina. I more or less quit going to said grocery store once the M&S (Marks and Spencer, a British grocery chain) opened up in the La Defense metro station; I like the watercress and egg sandwich, their house-brand chips, and their seemingly random selection of bottled drinks (the “sparkling scottish” water is nasty, as is their generic attempt at Orangina/Fanta). Plus, it’s (relatively speaking) cheap, so I can continue to refrain from taking a lunch with minimal guilt. Red letter days merit a trip to a sandwich cart in CNIT that sells the best tasting chicken sandwiches in Paris.
Having secured the first pillar of our wobbly construct, we now need a place to eat; that role is filled by the Grand Arche. It’s big, it has lots of built-in seating (look at all of those steps), and it’s close.
After a trip to the English-speaking bookstore this weekend, I realized that I had a growing pile of tomes (yes, there are two Kindles, one Kindle Fire, and iPad, and a Surface pro amongst the detritus that we brought with us. While I’d like for my primary justification for buying [large] books to be their lack of availability on an ereader, the reality is that there’s something more viscerally pleasing about buying a book. And hugging a book. And smelling a book…) concerning the history of Paris, the development of the Paris Metro, narratives of the French Revolution, and an analysis of the Terror. An obvious solution was thus born: if I read while sitting on the steps of the Arche (instead of browsing the internet or attempting to make sense of the pigeons’ food-acquisition subroutine), not only would my pile of books would go down, my lunch could be legitimately productive (because we all know that we should give a shit about having a productive lunch).
I’m not sure how I’d rate this first day of the grand plan: I encountered a (short)busful of loud, twitchy tourists (continent of origin withheld), a schizophrenic homeless guy loudly lecturing the ether (presumably about whatever it was that was wrong with his right calf – gangrene?), and a random guy, in his early twenties, that handed me his camera and asked me, in terribly broken French (my French is awful. if I can discern that your French is awful, well…) to take a picture of him.
Yeah. Still reading the preface.