Thursday, April 20, 2006

Beware the Lone Diner with Space Issues!

Wonderful day yesterday--the weather, the company. Took my son to see that Star Wars exhibition at the Museum of Science with a friend and her nephew (go quickly if you haven't--it closes April 30). Afterwards, The Boy and I met up with my husband at Hahvahd Square for burgers at Mr. Bartley's. As usual, I got the "Skip Gates"--teriyaki burger with a pineapple slice, so juicy the bun gets soaked and you have to use a knife and fork.

One thing that's nice about Bartley's is that if you're alone or not terribly hung up on your personal space, the long center table is open to anyone who wants to sit there, no waiting. (Kind of like counter seating at a diner.) Most people eating alone are steered to the long table, especially during busy hours. The three of us didn't want to wait and apparently aren't hung up on our personal space, so we sat at the end and ordered.

A young woman--let's call her "Lone Diner"--came in after us and sat down a few seats from my son, leaving a couple of empty seats between them. She then proceeded to put her purse and coat on the seat next to her. At first, I thought LD was waiting for someone, but then she ordered (macaroni and cheese), pulled out a textbook of some sort, and ate. In other words, she was trying to preserve her personal space at the expense of another diner.

But the server was too smart for that. Soon enough, a couple--a mom and college-aged son, by the looks of them--came in. The waitress politely (but with the teensiest bit of an edge to her voice) asked Lone Diner to remove her coat and purse from the empty seat so the newbies could sit across from each other. The mom and son proceeded to get into a little argument and left without ordering. Someone came and sat next to me (in the mom's spot), but the son's chair remained empty.

LD, apparently aware that our waitress (I wish I'd caught her name--she was really good) had an eye on her, wasn't ballsy enough to put her coat and purse back. But she made a bit of a show throwing her arm over the empty chair while studying and eating, as if she were going to be joined by someone any minute so stay away from that chair. By the time she left, you could tell the waitress was just the teensiest bit fed up with LD's sense of entitlement about her personal space.

For the sake of the long-suffering hosts and waiters of Mr. Bartley's, I recommend that the LDs of the world grab one of those little tables at the Au Bon Pain down the block if they have "space" issues. On the other hand, for me (a compulsive people watcher), it was like getting dinner and a show, so come on in!


Anonymous Spatch said...

I absolutely love Bartley's and often enjoy getting talked at by the other solo diners on the long table (bring a copy of Catch-22 with you for some interesting conversations!) but there are times when I don't feel like rubbing elbows with random strangers. Those are the times when I just simply don't go to Bartley's. An amazing solution, to be sure, and one that involves a bit of self-awareness, but it seems to work.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

That makes total sense to me. I'm typically a talker--even to strangers, LOL! (and I LOVE the idea of bringing a copy of Catch-22 or any other interesting book)--but there are times I don't feel like communing with others. (Heck, there are times I don't even want to answer a ringing phone.)

So: Does the need for a great burger outweigh the need for solitude? Discuss.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Spatch said...

Needs must when the burger calls. But there's always the take-out option, and with the weather getting better there's always some place nice nearby to sit outdoors and eat. Godzilla frappes are best enjoyed in-house, though.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

And raspberry lime rickeys. Can't forget those!

1:20 PM  

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