Most of my working life has been spent in small environments without the opportunity to go to lunch with co-workers. Melissa and I have lunch together most days of the week, and of course, breakfast and dinner too. But, not having worked in a big workplace, my lunch buddies are most often people, who like me, are “on their own.” I’ve done hundreds or thousands of business lunches, including one on one meetings, but that’s not what I’m talking about with regard to lunch buddies. Lunch buddies are the folks with whom one can relax and talk about anything and everything. Going way back, one of those was Jon Peters, my photo mentor. He and I, then later, with another photographer or two, Vince and Greg, spent many lunch hours in Jacksonville at the Garden of Tiki Polynesian buffet, Subway, or some other gourmet location. Over the last 30 years, my lunch buddies have typically been connections from our business niche`, litigation or litigation support. This has included a few lawyers who became friends as well as people involved helping in our business or working in the same circles. I’m writing this having just lost one of my lunch buddies to a heart attack. Mark was a few years older than me and he passed away suddenly. In the last few years, he was probably my most frequent dining companion other than Melissa. Lunch or breakfast with Mark ranged from places like Denny’s to classier places around south Florida. Mark was very entertaining and supportive of Melissa, me, and Magnus. He was one of the first subscribers to this blog and frequently sent us his take on our topics. Having lunch with Mark, and some of my other buddies, is a welcome interlude to our usual routines. These lunches take me out of my environment and provide me the opportunity to expand my perspective on things. Again, being in a small business, having water cooler conversations is not possible. Interacting with others keeps one’s mind active and can provide a different view of things going on in the world or in business. We can share ideas, strategies, and network. Alas, Mark’s passing reminds me of how special these connections are, and, unfortunately, how fragile. Some of my lunch buddies, like Mark, are gone, including Jon, Vince, and Charles. And, there are those who are now geographically unavailable, like Greg and Jack. All the more reason to treasure those who are still up to spending time over a burger, barbeque, or whatever we can find. It’s not about the food, but the time together. Robert and Brian – let’s keep it going!
As anyone who knows me well can attest, lunch is my favorite meal of the day. In my opinion, breakfast is a necessity and dinner, while enjoyable, is more formal than lunch. Lunch, on the other hand, has the greatest potential for fun and I love to have fun! I spent many years in academic environments and I often went to lunch with my professors, both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student. It was my major professor, Jack, who instilled in me the routine of having lunch as close to 12:00 p.m. as possible. Jack usually taught classes from 11:15 to 12:05, with lunch immediately afterwards. After graduate school, I worked in corporate environments for 9 years, where going out for lunch with co-workers was part of my daily routine. One of my co-workers called me a “social butterfly” because I almost always had a lunch date with someone, usually in an interesting or trendy place. I have traveled far and wide for lunch! My favorite lunch buddy, however, was the late Pat Geraghty. Pat was one of Magnus’ first clients, on our case #00017. He was an attorney who practiced law in my hometown, Fort Myers. When David and I lived in Fort Myers part time from 2006 to 2010, I had lunch with Pat every time I had a chance to do so. Although we had gone to lunch together both prior to 2006 and after 2010, these 4 years were enhanced by my frequent lunches with Pat. He was a member of the Royal Palm Yacht Club and, when it was his turn to pay for lunch, we always went there. When it was my turn, we usually went to my favorite restaurant in Fort Myers, The Veranda. (Sometimes, when we wanted a change of pace, we went to a less upscale restaurant, The Edison, at the Fort Myers Country Club.) Pat was an excellent conversationalist, had a fantastic and sharply edged sense of humor, and was an all around fun companion. He was always “in the know” about happenings in, as he called it, “The Fort” and regaled me with the latest juicy tidbits about people we knew. Since he passed away a few years ago, I haven’t had much interest in going to lunch with anyone else on a regular basis. I cherish the times we spent together. Who would have thought that my favorite lunch buddy was an attorney who just happened to be a huge fan of the University of Florida and a “Bull Gator”?