Sunday, October 10, 2010

Table for One

I like to think I'm a pretty independent woman - a woman that can do a lot of stuff on her own. I live alone. I go to movies alone a lot. I show up at parties alone. But, I do have one hang up and that is eating alone.

Last week I was in Napa Valley doing some site visits for an upcoming incentive trip my company is putting together for their top sales employees (I know, hard life I lead). In addition to the four hotels we were scouting, I also had a list of wineries to go view and some restaurants as well since we do a lot of off-site parties during this trip. Since the events department at my company is a lonely group of one (aka just me), I was doing this trip solo.

Looking at hotels and wineries was easy peasy because it's a totally professional part of my job and doing it alone is actually preferable. I can ask the questions I want and schmooze with the sales managers. The restaurants were a whole different story. I only had two to look at that could accommodate a party of our size so I figured I would just go to dinner at the two restaurants and consider that my site visit.

Easier said than done. When I got to Yountville, I was all set to eat dinner at Bistro Jeanty. After my last site visit, I wandered over to the restaurant and walked right past it and went into a local deli and bought a sandwich to bring back to my room to eat in front of the TV.

I have no idea why eating alone has struck such a big nerve with me. Like I said, I do a lot of things on my own and none of those present an issue. But when it comes to sitting down at a nice restaurant and eating dinner by myself, I just can't do it.

The next day I was going to drive into downtown Napa and check out another restaurant but wimped out at the last minute when I saw an In 'N Out and decided to eat there instead. Because for some odd reason I can eat by myself at fast food restaurants but diners or really any restaurant with a waiter presents a problem.

I guess it just boils down to me being embarrassed by the fact that I'm eating alone or fearing that people around me are judging me for the fact that I'm by myself at a restaurant. But with my corporate travel increasing a lot this past year, I really need to get over this fear. And fast.

19 comments:

FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com said...

When I travel by myself I eat alone a lot.

People give me weird looks, I get pity looks from waiters/waitresses but that's just because I'm a GIRL! I know guys do the same thing and don't get looked at twice.

I don't care. I need food and I don't want a sandwich. I ignore the looks and the only bonus is if they give me extra food for looking so "pitiful" :P

dating diva said...

I hate eating alone in public too. It's something I'm trying to work on though. It does bother me a little that I feel so awkward about sitting alone.

-Delilah

Jessica (Bayjb) said...

I've had the same trouble with dining alone. I avoided it at all costs. But then I just tried to embrace it, bring a book or magazine and go with it. And actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I liked the time to relax outdoors and read. But yeah, I'm still finishing my meal pretty quickly. I'm a work in progress

rondamarie said...

I’m so excited to comment on this because I used to have this problem and I am completely over it. Here’s what I did. First time I went to eat alone, I took a book; I used it to distract myself while I was waiting for my food. By reading I was concentrating on the book and not looking around to see who might be looking at me. I still sometimes take a book with me, but now I just do it because it’s relaxing to sit alone and eat and read. Another thing I’ve done is make up a back story that I tell myself. Meaning, if I were someone else in the restaurant and I saw someone eating alone, what possible scenario might I assume has brought that individual there to eat alone. Of course no one ever hears this story but me. I tell myself things like; I am a successful business woman in town for one night to make a million dollar deal before I jet back to my posh home. I tell myself that I am married, but my husband is in the military and deployed, or is a doctor and works long hours. Finally, and most importantly, I remind myself that I am not nearly as important to everyone else as I convince myself of. No one cares what I am doing, or why I am there alone. They probably don’t even notice. They may look up as I walk to my table for one but at the very most they are admiring my shoes, or my purse or the fact that I get to eat in peace while they are wiping boogers out of their child’s nose.

Go forth and dine alone! Enjoy it, there’s no reason to be embarrassed at all.

miss_kay said...

I hate eating alone. I thought I was the only person with this fear of eating alone in public, I'll admit, I cant even eat at a fast food place by myself. It's one of those things I need to work on.

After reading this post and comments, I am glad I am not the only woman who fears this.

ML said...

I don't mind eating alone, but I always head to the bar. If anything, you can be entertained by the bartender and get the inside scoop on the restaurant and the area. If I sat at a regular table by myself, I probably wouldn't like it either!

The Girlie Blog said...

Maybe you can make a friend? Girls, especially good-looking ones, are so much for approachable when they are alone.

Mary @The Sweet Bookshelf said...

I love eating alone! I bring a book. It is VERY relaxing. Sit at the bar also, there is always the bartender to chat with, and they know the people sitting there are most likely alone.

Also, no one really cares you are eating alone. They probably don't even notice. They are busy with their dinner. Don't sweat the small stuff, you are in town on business. End of story. Nothing shameful about that!

jamie said...

I hate eating alone. I've done it before and taken a book or work along with me. I don't really care what anyone else thinks about me being myself, I just don't like eating by myself.

Guilty of Gossip said...

I feel you on this one- it sucks!
It is like a big reminder that you dont have someone eating with you- but really we shouldnt care- like someone commented earlier, no one looks twice when a guy is eating alone.
still sucks though!

Vivienne said...

I can completely relate to this. In between my training, I have two hours to kill and in those two hours I need to have dinner. I normally bring along my laptop or a magazine to avoid "looks". However, if I want to eat outside, because it's nice out... I'll just wear a pair of shades and people watch. Hey, why not. If they're watching me, then they deserved to be watched as well.

Amy said...

I'm OK with eating alone - sometimes I'll read a newspaper if I'm feeling a bit uncomfortable. The one thing I can't do by myself is go to a movie!

Pretty Unfamous said...

You should check out the Beringer Winery. I absolutely love how beautiful it is.

Rice said...

First off, I love the blog. We're all working women these days, and it's a really relevant topic to explore in such a fun, witty way.

Second, I can relate to your problem. I used to get very embarrassed, eating alone at restaurants, but not I enjoy it. I started by taking a book with me, but nowadays, and for a working girl, a laptop is just as appropriate. A notebook or pen and tablet does the same trick.

My advice is to take a prop with you and don't be afraid to use it. It will distract you from your fears and provide some entertainment. Just remember to push it aside for a little friendliness when the server comes over. And, honestly, you need not worry about people "judging" you for being alone; the other patrons are thinking about their meal, their company, their book or laptop, etc. People are way more oblivious than we give them credit for. haha

Luna said...

i dont like to eat alone much either. at a fast food place i dont care b/c many people do that, sometimes i prefer to eat alone. just like with the movies, i have gone alone before, no big deal. at a restaurant i wouldnt go alone. thats just how it is. restaurants are made for at least 2 people to eat together, thats how society views it.

Dominique said...

I always try to sit at the bar if I'm dining alone. You can shoot the breeze with the bartender. If I'm at an actual table, I chat it up with the waiter or waitress. And I always have the iPhone to keep me company. It took me a while to become comfortable eating alone but now I enjoy it. I can order whatever I want and nobody is going to judge me. That means if I want a cheese plate, dessert and a bottle of wine, I'm gonna order it!

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