I’m an introvert which means I am energized by being by myself. Being around large groups of people takes a lot of energy and is very taxing. As such, I never mind being alone.
Except when I’m eating at a restaurant.
I absolutely hate eating alone at a restaurant. Whenever I want to go out to lunch I always try to find a dining partner. As a pastor it’s not difficult to find someone with whom to have lunch.
Sometimes, though, I am forced to sit by myself and eat my lunch alone. In those instances we do have some options with how to pass our time.
Whether you’re reading Harry Potter or a book on spiritual formation by Dallas Willard, eating alone is a great opportunity to spend some time with a book. When reading at a restaurant it’s like you’re not even alone. It’s not that you couldn’t find a dining partner, it’s that you prefer to spend your lunch with Edward Cullen, Jack Ryan or some random character from the expanded Star Wars universe. Just don’t tell someone that you’d rather spend your lunch alone because Lisbeth Salander is a far more interesting dining companion.
Dining alone in a restaurant is also a great opportunity to listen to a podcast. Maybe you’re one of those people who need more than one sermon per week in your life. You’re more than happy to listen to your pastor on a weekly basis. However, what’s the harm in supplementing his or her message with a couple more? Why not listen to Mark Driscoll over your sandwich, Andy Stanley over your hamburger or Francis Chan over your rice bowl? Again, it’s not that you’re eating lunch by yourself, you’re just choosing to spend it with a pastor. For the sake of your pastor, though, please don’t let him or her know you declined a lunch invitation to spend time with Rick Warren. That would make him or her or me sad.
Lunch alone also provides a great opportunity to sit down and get some writing and blogging done. In fact, right now I’m sitting alone in Chick-fil-A writing this post on my phone. I didn’t have anyone with whom to get lunch. I’m sitting in a booth alone, writing and hoping that the old couple behind me doesn’t think I’m weird (I don’t know for sure but, since they’re old, I imagine they had the chicken salad sandwich and carrot salad). It’s been a productive lunch and I accomplished something I wouldn’t have had I found a lunch partner.
I don’t like eating alone because a meal is such a communal experience. Eating does meet a very basic need but, beyond that, it also provides a great environment for talking and building relationships.
Also, when dining with someone else, there is always the potential that they might pay.
Which may be the best reason to always have a dining partner.
Do you enjoy eating alone in a restaurant? Why or why not? What do you do by yourself?