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The Lunch Bunch: 3 longtime employees maintain daily tradition

At 1 p.m. on any given workday, the television set in the staff lounge on the second floor of the Browning Administration Building at Austin Peay State University is tuned to One Life to Live.

As the soap operas intriguing daily plot unfolds, three employees from the Business Office – Darline Jones, Geraldine Garner and Joyce Walker – meet for lunch at their usual spot in the lounge. They meet at 1 because the time accommodates their work schedules.
At 1 p.m. on any given workday, the television set in the staff lounge on the second floor of the Browning Administration Building at Austin Peay State University is tuned to “One Life to Live.”

As the soap opera's intriguing daily plot unfolds, three employees from the Business Office — Darline Jones, Geraldine Garner and Joyce Walker — meet for lunch at their usual spot in the lounge. They meet at 1 because the time accommodates their work schedules.

“One Life to Live” is their favorite program. And while the TV show airs, the women talk about shopping, families, pains and joys.

It's been a tradition since they started working together at Austin Peay 12 years ago.

“We enjoy each other's company,” said Walker, deemed by the other two as the mother of the group.

“We have stuck together like sisters,” said Jones, who admits she's the prankster among them.

“We've laughed, we've cried. Births, weddings, funerals, we've been through it all together,” said Gardner, who provides a listening ear and guiding advice when Walker or Jones needs help.

Years ago, the trio used to drive off campus for lunch. However, when they returned to work, finding a parking space often was a problem, so they decided to eat together upstairs in Browning.

But soon afterward, another tradition occurred. At the end of their lunch hour, the three women walk to a large window overlooking Morgan University Center on Browning Drive.

“People from time to time stop and ask us, ‘What's going on out there?'” Garner said. “We just like to look out the window and chat a bit longer. It's like a calmness. It relaxes us before we go back to work.”

But it's their close family-like friendship that makes their work that much more enjoyable. Even if one of them receives another job offer, the other two work to stop the other from leaving.

“Nobody can leave,” Walker said in her motherly voice. “Whenever one of us even thinks about it, we talk them out of it.” -- Melony Leazer