Last saturday, I went to have lunch with my sister and her husband at a small restaurant in my city, located in the trendiest neighborhood. All the tables were full. Among us, there were families and groups of young people. But there was also a lonely man sitting next to our table. He looked as if he was 40 year old or something like that. While we were eating, I noticed he was listening to our conversation. I haven’t seen my sister for a long period, so we had a lot to chat about.
We could have invited him to join us at our table. But by the time we realized he was listening to us, he left his table and went outside.
This is not the first time I see this in the city.
A friend of mine, who owns her restaurant, tells me she often gets orders from single men at her restaurant. They don’t come and eat at her place, but they order take away food and eat that alone in their house or their apartment, with probably the company of their television and /or their cat or dog. Not everyone seems comfortable eating alone.
I’ve done it too, eating alone. It’s not something I often do. Once, I was too early for my second evening appointment, and I was really hungry. So I stopped at a sushi bar and ate there alone. I realized I wasn’t the only one to do so in that restaurant.
I’ve noticed people are shy at the restaurant. If you’re alone, no one will dare come to speak to you. This is the case in my country. We don’t have bars where you can sit and talk to the bartender while you’re eating.
People get more accessible in the summer, where everyone takes his lunch to the nearest park. Not so long ago, I was sitting on a bench eating my sandwich, when a man came sitting next to me with his lunch. And while he was eating, he was trying to speak to me. I got a call from work, urging me to go back to my office. So I had to shorten the conversation. He didn’t ask for my number. So, I guess he wasn’t interested. Besides, he only talked about the park, about the weather, and about him. He never asked a question to me.
Things are different when you’re in a seminar abroad. I’ve been to numerous seminars where I thought I was going to eat alone, but then, people seat around me. Some of my friends told me that’s how they met their significant other. Because when we travel abroad for professional reasons, we often travel alone. This is my case. But most people do. That’s why we’re more eager to talk to other people.
In our everyday life, that’s a different story. Maybe this is why people eat alone in my city, and no one comes to break that loneliness.