#180: Red Allowed

June 21st, 2013

I found a spot with a view of the Jewelers’ Building. I liked the way the pinkish carved curls and swoops across the river were flanked from my perspective by the glass and steel up-ness of the Trump and some Miesian fiasco I can’t be bothered to learn the name of.

I found a spot with a smooth stone bench by a row of scooters – for residents only, warns a sign.

I found a spot to pull out a book and read over lunch.

I was the only one.

There were people, of course. Tons walking by on lunch break to and from downtown buildings. There were women in light summery skirts fit for both work and titillation. There were men clothed in suits, in ties, in layers of fat from year after year of sitting at desks. There were strapping young bucks, smiling older women, workmen working, two friends chatting at the next stone bench as they ate Subway brand submarine sandwiches.

But I was the only one with a book. “My Name Is Red” by Orhan Pamuk. It’s quite good.

I’m not joining the throngs of asses who berate the world for not walking around with a smug sneer and a book jacket conveniently sticking out of the bag to see. They’re jerks. Twitter is fine and so are lolcats. I partake of both a lot.

I don’t read a lot. I used to. Haven’t in a while.

On my smooth stone bench with a view of the Jewelers’ Building, I went to Istanbul. As the jackhammer howled behind me, I tracked the killer of Elegant Effendi. I tasted the pilaf with almonds and dried apricots and generally got swallowed up in the world of reading like LeVar Burton promised.

That’s “Reading Rainbow” Burton, not “Star Trek.”

We work through lunch as a culture. That’s expected now. Our little breaks come while pecking out an illicit tweet or status between spreadsheets, visiting a site or reading a quick article before flipping tabs to work when the boss flitters by. Some even write stories for their blogs when they’re supposed to be editing the Feinberg profile.

Sitting outside in the sun with a sandwich, a book and a view of a curlicued office building seems like an unforgivable luxury. It seems like stealing, wasteful, wanton stealing.

It’s not. We’re allowed to do this. It’s OK.

It’s OK to step away from work. It’s not lazy to let your job be your job and your life your life. Your desk doesn’t have to be your lunch counter too.

There are worlds outside of work. There are moments to share and hold and pleasures to be squeezed tightly to your own selfish self.

One of the greatest of those is walking outside and finding a spot to read about a world miles and years away from the jackhammers and sirens and Subway brand submarine sandwiches that surround you.

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You are currently reading #180: Red Allowed by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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