Going for lunch is a great thing. Besides satisfying your hunger, you have a break in your day in which you have time to relax a little and to chat with your friends or colleagues about anything – hopefully distinctly unrelated to work. In short, lunch break is fun.
Unless you have to do it on your own. Then there is always a bit of awkwardness involved starting with the basic decision: do you eat on your desk or do you go out after all? If you choose the latter, you may end up in a crowded restaurant where you may be asked to share your table with another stranger, equally left alone during mealtime. And we all know what that will lead to: awkwardly forced conversations about awkwardly irrelevant topics – mostly weather related – until one or both are saved by the arrival of the food. A usually relaxing lunch break has turned into an awkwardly quick exercise in food intake.
It has long been overdue that somebody came up with a solution for all that awkwardness, and the people who designed (one of) the cafeterias at Kyoto University did an excellent job. Check this out: Those tables are for six people each, but the board, conveniently placed at eye level, will prevent anyone sitting there from seeing the person opposite. And, as many people like to look at the person to whom they talk (unless when talking on the phone, but there it is often about who sees you while you are loudly yelling for attention into your mobile), this board relieves everybody from making awkward conversations. What an ingenious little contraption!
Next thing you know, they will install little screens right there, so you can surf the internet while you’re eating… But then, you could probably just eat at your computer anyway.
Disclaimer: Those are the only few tables in the whole cafeteria thus equipped. All other tables are of the usual, inviting social
awkwardness interaction, types.