I went to a sushi restaurant today, newspaper in hand, planning on a bit of sashimi, a beer and a relaxing read of the paper.
I sat at the very end of the bar, next to the wall, taking as little space as possible, as those who dine alone do. We leave the tables for couples and families because we realize that we are like the wounded gazelle at the waterhole. We dare not take too much space.
After settling, I was approached by a charming server who suggested I might want to move to a table, since meals were served over the bar, near to my location. I never, ever, disrespect servers, so I pointed out to her that since there was a stool there, I assumed I could sit there. I added that since I was alone, I didn't want to take a table. She charmingly agreed.
I hadn't made it to page 3 before her boss, a brick-faced, middle-aged Japanese women asked me if I was ready to order. I replied that I would sip my beer and read for a few minutes and then order. She returned every two minutes to bark her question, before I got to page five.
Feeling that I was in the way, I ordered. While waiting, the sushi dishes began being passed over my head to servers. When I first selected my corner stool, the dishes were passed two stools away. Now the plates were skimming my skull. Clearly some kind of statement.
Brickface returned and suggested that I might be more comfortable on the patio. Compared to having herring eggs dropped in my curly hair, it sounded like a good idea.
I went out to the patio. The charming server carried my plate. I resumed reading my paper when the husband of Brickface came to my table. Mr. Brickface informed me that I could not sit on the patio since I had ordered beer with my food ( my beer was untouched inside). They asked me to move again. I moved to a small table inside. They brought my now-limp sashimi and my warm beer. By now I was so nervous, I opened the paper and knocked over the beer. Brickface hissed and wiped the table. Nervous and confused, I left my meal and went home. I tipped Brickface. Hey, I'm a Catholic. We search for guilt.
So here is my message to restaurants. The lonely people are loyal customers. We tip better. We bring friends to places where we have been treated well.
While I was bumped from table to table I saw couples blabbering for an hour, long after they had eaten.
If I had a restaurant I would have a sign that said " You will never eat alone here, you will eat with friends".
This is for all the lonely people, as the song says.
( although the boulevards aren't as friendly anymore) Homage to Springsteen.)