There are days where I take a lunch break and partake of a meal with one of my work colleagues and there are days that I partake of a meal with myself. Most people would say, by myself, but I say, with myself.
I consider me to be great company, especially at lunch when I have an extended period of time to commiserate with my thoughts while I enjoy a cup of chicken noodle followed by a half sandwich of ham and swiss on rye.
Walking into a restaurant and asking for a table for one is something that most people will not do. A great many of those people who sit at the ‘single’ table, will always have a book or a magazine to keep themselves from looking up at all the other people who are staring and thinking, ‘Look at that lonely person, no one to have lunch with – what a shame.’
So I reiterate, even when I sit at a table with myself, I am never alone; I always have me. And I also always have my trusted electronic connectors to my virtual world: my smart phones (yes, I have two – one personal, one for work), and Blackie and Apple (my nicknames for my phones) provide compelling entertainment during my meal. Lunchtime provides a great opportunity to catch up on email, read the news, write my next blog post, play Yahtzee or text one of my friends. I don’t like speaking on the phone while at lunch (I find it to be rude to the other patrons) but I don’t mind staring at its tiny screen while I ignore those same people who are around me (for some reason I do not consider that action rude). I imagine looking at my phone’s screen may be no different from hiding behind a book or magazine, so I make sure that as I use my phone I am occasionally looking up to gaze at the people who are eating around me in groups of two or more. I, the self-assured, supposed lonely guy, do not need anyone at my table other than me to secure the enjoyment of both my meal and my company.
Of course there are days when I walk into my neighborhood haunts for lunch (since I work near my house) intending to just enjoy the quiet time inside my head and my plans change. Why? It simply is because I stop and speak to the other regulars from the lunch crowd, or to the food servers or to the owners of these establishments. There’s one diner where I’m met with hugs and kisses by the hostess (as she asks me about wife, work and family – in that order), another joint where my waitress sits and has lunch with me telling me about her three kids and their activities, and yet another dive where the cook comes out of the kitchen and wants me to try his daily special or current culinary experiment. How can I be perceived as lonely when I am a people magnet who while trying to grab a bite to eat, has to spread himself across all those who want a piece of my time? Frankly, if Blackie and Apple were not inanimate objects, I think they would be jealous of having to share their ‘ME’ time with all of these strangers.
Plain and simple, I love me and I think everyone else should follow suit. Even financial planners tell you to pay yourself first, so there is nothing wrong with adding some love into my emotional account.
And while you are reading all of this, I briefly pull myself away from my personal admiration society to imagine what you must be thinking. I will admit it for you. I am vain. I love myself. I enjoy my company. I consider myself to be Juan in a million.
Now that I’ve said it, I won’t blame you for thinking that instead of ordering my usual soup and sandwich for lunch, perhaps I should refine my palette and change my diet. I especially will not hold it against you for thinking that perhaps, next time I am ‘lunching’ alone or in the fabulous, magnificent company of me, myself and I, the three of us I should finish our meal with a great, big piece of humble pie, coupled with what surely is a much-needed cup of humility.