The Only One at the Table

Things are a little different in the world of being single.  When you go out in public, you’re often the odd man or woman out.  And I particularly note this to be the case when you go to a dining establishment.  Even more so if the place has an ego.

Yes, businesses have egos too.  They like to craft an image to promote youth, beauty, and affluence.  If you’re eating there, you must have money, the food must be gourmet, and you must be part of that “elite” class that expects, and gets, the best service.

And they will position the chosen few, those that fit societal’s definition of beauty and wealth where they can be seen by prospective customers.  The hungry walkers-by, peering into the arena of the feast.  Witnessing the conquers having killed, dressed, and roasted the beast upon which they droolingly masticate.

They strongly resist giving up a “prestige table” to an ordinary guy who just wants to have a beer and take in the scenery.

That’s me.  And maybe that’s been you too,

I certainly doubt I’m the only one who has experienced this, but when I go into a restaurant alone, and request one of those coveted tables, outside, by the waterway, where the public strolls, I encounter constant discouragement.  Perhaps obstruction is a better word.

They will seat me at the worst location possible to encourage me to leave.  And often, bad service ensues.

It almost happened again today, and that reminded me of a particularly obnoxious wait staff in a restaurant in my home town.  Dare I call anywhere “home.” 😊

It was a local Mexican establishment.  And when I asked for a table outside, by the waterfront, I was led to the table that no passerby could possibly see.  In fact, it would have difficult for anyone else in the restaurant to see me since it was behind the door leading to the patio.

Oh yes, there were other tables available, but it seems I didn’t fit the mold, and there would only be one meal being paid for instead of four.  Three empty chairs aren’t good for business . . .

So yes, I tolerated this placement in my ego-restricted space.  My bubble of invisibility.  After all, I’m a pretty easy-going guy.  Even when the waitresses slammed the door into the table each time they delivered a portion of the multi-course meal being inhaled by the party of eight that was seated front and center.

But then they really started to push it.

A busboy attempted to take my plate when I was half finished.  Fork still in hand.  Hold on a minute there!

Then the waitress brought me the check long before I would have asked for it.  I mean there was no offer of dessert, or question as to if I wanted anything more to drink.  It doesn’t matter what my response would have been, that’s just customarily done when you’re the host.

Hummm, I thought for a moment, called the waitress over and ordered another drink.  Yes dammit.  They had given me a rotten location, with an obstructed view, and constant mini-earthquakes shaking the table, but now, I’m hanging onto that spot as long as I possibly can.

Orneriness runs in the family you see.

Stunned the waitress, begrudgingly, brought me another margarita, and in the same instant, a revised check.  The tip was getting smaller now.

So, I waited, and waited, and waited, and once confident that no one would acknowledge my existence, I flagged the waitress down again.  But this time I asked for a cup of coffee.

Oh yes, this meant revising the check again.  For a third time.  And for a just a brief moment, I thought I saw a glimmer of light in her eyes, a sudden awareness and understanding, that maybe she, and the business, got it.

You should serve customers equally.

But no, another instant revised check briskly landed with the cup of coffee; as the table shook.

I drank it slowly, very slowly. 😊

I’ve never returned to that restaurant.

Today, though, I was prepared.  It wasn’t going to be a repeat of that bitter tasting experience.  I pulled a bait and switch.

When I was directed to the bar, I retrieved my drink and then blocked the hostess’s escape.  I asked for a table outside and asked for a menu.  So at least they thought I was ordering an entrée.  When they attempted to give me a table in a similar location as the Mexican restaurant, a table to make me invisible and earthquake prone, I asked for the best table I saw open.  They relented.

And when I told the waitress later that I decided against the meal, there was little they could do.  I knew they’d ignore me from that moment on, but hey, I, along with three empty chairs, was enjoying my beer. On the waterfront . . .

In Metta


Photo: Obviously not peak flow at this restaurant when I snapped this pic.  I came after the lunch rush and way before dinner time.  But it does demonstrate that even with many open tables, they were going to place me in that hidden space.  In case you’re wondering, the waterway was just beyond the bushes, more visible over my left shoulder.

On a side note, I have cloned brushed out a scene that had unfolded in the background.  Some guy, presumably having a meal with his female partner, had waited strategically until his partner excused herself to go to the restroom and was busy taking pics of a very attractive waitress.  Geez, people . . . well, there is the fun of watching the absurd unfold. 🙂

Oh, and Happy Fourth of July !


19 thoughts on “The Only One at the Table”

  1. I think it really boils down to $$$$. They think they are wasting a table on a single person. But I hadn’t really thought about this because I haven’t been in that situation. Thanks for sharing. And I’m shaking my head at the guy with his camera. Hope you are having a wonderful trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, have totally experienced this before. Single woman approaching middle age gets ignored by the staff. It’s total crap. I used to feel invisible.

    Glad you got a good seat this time!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. The song “Old and in the Way” came to mind when I read this. I wish our culture treasured people equally, but those days are a ways off yet, it seems. We must get pleasantly ‘in their face’ in order to assert our rights!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, it is an issue. Only it is not just their ego but mine as well as I learn to overcome this single life obstacle. I would rather not go as this is new to me. However, the skin gets tougher a little at a time. So one day I too will demand a view and will Slowly enjoy instead of gulping and run.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 I hope this didn’t come across as too negative. I wanted to poke a little fun at these behaviors. Yes, my own ego is involved too, but I really don’t get hung up on this stuff too much. I try to reward the wait staff well as I know it’s not an easy or well paid job. I think their employers have told them to do this, so we just need to redirect them, with a smile 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Awwww. I am sure you will have some nice eating out experiences too. The funniest time I had eating out on my own was on a Greek Island where I went to get a pizza. The waiter said he’d have the chef make me the one I wanted when I was looking at the menu outside. So I went in and then he cracked open a beer and set it down at my table and I said I didn’t order that. He said, “I did”. And he opened another for himself and sat beside me so I wasn’t on my own anymore. Ha ha. Then I politely said goodbye later. Although the story continues because he popped up again somewhere else.
    It can be awkward eating out on your own. But I have had some very funny experiences. But then again I have also dated guys who it has been more stressful to eat out with and more of a drama than if I was on my own! I think it’s the more upmarket establishments that are harder to eat on your own at. But whether you eat on your own, in a couple, with friends, work colleagues or at family gatherings there are different types of pros and cons every time. There are certain places I wouldn’t eat on my own. I am more into casual dining I guess. And then it’s not really much of an issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not so ironically I tried another restaurant down the road a few days later. I counted 13 empty tables but they told me they had none available and I could only sit at the bar – next to two staffers folding napkins . . .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s unbelievable stupid.Something like that would happen in Italy where also all the eyes would be on you unless it is clear you are dining or drinking alone because you are a business man waiting fir next appointment otherwise you might be easily considered either an alcoholic or someone looking for adventure 🤷🏻‍♀️
        In Ireland is instead quite common be on your own at the pub or restaurant or coffee shop doing what you want without nobody minding you and guess what?they are not fussy with tables( unless of course you pick a table for ten😂)

        Liked by 1 person

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