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 | By Jim Berlucchi

I'm Out of the Lunch Clique

Q: I work in a small office, where all of the “old-timers” go to lunch every day. I feel left out. Isn’t this rude office behavior? Any advice for me?

A: Join them. I’ve found this maxim to be true – the more I focus on the difficult behavior of others, the more I tend to feel helpless, small-minded and irritable. The more I focus on making a positive difference, the more I feel large-minded, empowered and happy – even if my attempted contribution is a dud.

Give the “old-timers” the benefit of the doubt. At least they’re better than two-timers. They’re long-term cronies with a long-term habit. “Every living thing loves its own kind, and we all love someone like ourselves.” (Sirach 13:15) 

Like you, they’re operating in their comfort zone. Get out of yours. Buddy up with them for a first lunch and surprise them with pre-paid desserts on you. Thank them for letting the “new kid on the block” enjoy their company. And feel good about your magnanimity – a grand virtue in which to indulge.

If they don’t extend an invite reasonably soon, try to join them again. If they keep stonewalling you, redirect your energies. Because you work in a small office, don’t force it. Stay friendly with them, but try socializing and lunching with others. But don’t do it for spite or to create a new clique, unless you want a miserable workplace. 

A call to feed the hungry

“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” 

These words from Matthew 25 are a call to action. Since childhood, those words were Christ calling me to connect with his hungry children, and a church food pantry gave me my connection. I started packing groceries. Every bag of food is a prayer for the person carrying it home. Each person I serve is my connection to Christ. More than food, there are stories of children and grandchildren, illness and healing, struggles and celebrations. We marvel together at God’s grace and wisdom and share our faith.

There are many ways to feed Christ’s children, and your local Catholic Charities agency is a perfect place to learn how. These organizations offer food, drink, shelter and clothes, providing dignity to those they serve. And they can offer guidance on donating time, talent and treasure to legitimate organizations serving the poor. A few suggestions are:

  • Soup kitchens 
  • Food pantries in your parish or community
  • Homeless shelters, which often rely on volunteers for meals

“It’s always better to work through us rather than around us,” says Mary Stevenson, director of development for Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties. “Ultimately it would be nice to put ourselves out of business, but that’s not likely to happen.”  – Mary Kay McPartlin