Is Eating Alone Embarrassing or Empowering?
Today I sort of messed up my schedule. I thought I needed to be at my first event at 10 am… well it turns out I didn’t need to be there until 3 PM. I decided instead of driving back home the 45 minute drive and then returning again, I would instead set up shop and work on other things until my 3 PM event. In usual “Mindy Style” I didn’t plan well for my meals… something I struggle with but am working on. I knew it would be good to get a solid meal in before the event, so at 12:30 I decided to go to the local Bertucci’s for a solo lunch! I didn’t hesitate because I do eat alone from time to time. The funny thing is, when I tell someone I ate at a restaurant alone they get a shocked look on their face. “What was that like??” “Did you feel weird?” Now, I’m not talking drinking a cup of coffee at Starbucks slumped over a laptop… I’m talking a full lunch in a busy restaurant alone…gasp!
Upon arriving I said “Just me” and smiled, the host only hesitated for a moment before putting back all but one menu and lead me to my table. I sat down and figured out what I wanted and decided I wasn’t going to linger on my tablet or cell phone… I was going to observe and relax for the time I was there.
So, here is what I observed-noticed:
- The older people in the restaurant were engaged in conversation, while the younger ones seemed to be on their phones. (An unfortunate sign of the times I guess). The groups seemed to be in deep conversation, leaning in.
- I was served much more quickly than the other tables with 2 or more patrons. I didn’t have the chance to ask if that is by design or if they assume you don’t want to sit alone for “too long”. The tables with groups they seemed to time the meal at a steadier pace. I don’t think they were rushing me, but wanted to make sure I was taken care of. Food came out one after the next… I think I was seated and finished in about 20 minutes!
- I was checked on constantly… almost as if they wanted to make sure I wasn’t lonely LOL!
- I noticed no one would look at me. I could see people looking around the restaurant but they seemed to skip over me… especially eye contact. Except for one little boy, who on his way out with his mother and sister stopped at my table and said, “Good Morning!” with a huge smile on his face. His mother quickly rushed him away saying don’t bother that woman. But I quite enjoyed his interaction and was glad I could say “Good Morning” back before he was out of earshot! I wondered if HE thought I might be lonely and needed a friendly hello?? I did smile at a woman across the room… but she quickly looked away.
- There was 1 other person in the restaurant eating alone… She had her tablet and phone going and never looked up even when the wait staff checked on her. I wondered… could she be that busy or is she feeling embarrassed a little to be eating alone?
So, have you ever eaten alone? How did it make you feel? I loved the fact that I got to eat all 3 rolls in the Bertucci bread basket (my absolute favorite with their seasoned oil! YUM!). I loved looking around and really seeing the décor and the people there. I was content not looking at my electronic devices and just “being”, enjoying my meal. Don’t get me wrong… I love to eat with family, friends and colleagues as well! But once in a while I think it is great to do things outside of the norm. Eating alone can be very empowering and relaxing at the same time. Give it a try and let us know how it makes you feel!