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by Abigail Van Buren

Lunch Room Conversation Is Hard for Worker to Swallow

DEAR ABBY: I have a dream job and enjoy every part of it, except for the lunch hour. The time for my break isn't debatable, nor is the area. We have a specific area for eating, and we aren't supposed to bring food to our work station.

During lunch time, seven to 10 people talk politics every day. It doesn't help that we are on opposite sides of the fence, but even if we weren't, I'm tired of all the nastiness on both sides.

I have politely asked them to discuss topics other than politics. I even talked to my boss about it, but he said it's not up to him what people talk about on their down time. Sometimes he joins us in the lunchroom and contributes to the topic. One of my co-workers is eight months pregnant, and she gets so worked up, I worry she'll go into premature labor. What should my next step, short of quitting, be? -- LOSING MY APPETITE

DEAR LOSING: Unless there is a rule specifying that you must eat your lunch inside the office, consider taking your lunch break outside. When the weather is mild, it could be a nice, quiet break. If it's too cold to eat outside, you could do it in your car and listen to music. However, if that's not possible, the solution to your problem might be as simple as noise-canceling headphones.

Read more in: Work & School