Photo Cred: Unsplash

Seriously, what are you f*****g staring at?

Teresa Truda
Sep 22, 2016 · 5 min read

I write this after 14 (almost consecutive) nights of “table for one, thanks”. As I am on the road. Again. The glamorous life of Co-Founding a travel start up. As the millennial business traveller. Hashtag suitcase life.

14th and last night of “table for one” on the road; I get the best [read with sarcasm] reception yet.

I walk into the modern, decked out, bustling establishment. And say the words [imagine slow mo as you read: table for onnnnnnneeeeee.] “One. Yep, one thanks.” The bustling restaurant pauses. Guests. Waiters alike. Reaction: Startled. Shocked. (Um, did someone die? I would just like dinner). One person. One table. Two chairs.

My smile still from ear to ear. I cannot wait for the meal that’s about to get in ma belly.

I walk up three flights of stairs (out of breath by the top) into a room full of couples, families and two groups of five — six. The groups are chatting away (in fact, can me and myself enjoy my me date in some silence). The families mainly have their kids on their iPads — mum and dad getting in a mouthful before their child has a tantrum. And the couples (mostly aged between 20–35) are sitting in silence. Glued to their phones. Although, they seem to notice the gust of wind me myself and I create upon entry (and not that kind) when I go to sit at my table for one. Yes one. Not two. Dismay.

I sit and eat slowly, quietly in my own thoughts. Solitude. Casual thoughts. Work overload anxiety. Maybe I’ll eat dessert? I have to pack. Are two mains too much for one? I have to send that email. Best check in on my flight time. What they’re eating looks good, maybe I should have ordered that. Shit-on-it, I forgot to go to buy deodorant.

And to distract the in-depth chat with myself, I people watch. Tune in and out of others moments. Their interactions or lack their of with other humans in their non table for one environment. I listen to a group of Americans raucous giggles; like school children. They are having the most fun of everyone in the restaurant.

I have a good view of what’s happening. Perfect position for observing and people watching. Plus plenty of room on my table for the two mains I just ordered, for one.

So, I’m sitting in between two couples. The most judgmental and pitying of them all as I walked in and sat solo, are to my right. Alas, once I am seated, they’re both pretty back quickly to their gadgets. Totally in silence, disengaged with one another. Glued to their phones.

The couple to the left of me aren’t too dissimilar. Maybe they should double date the ones on the right. Except the left couple are occasionally ‘interacting’ in the loose sense of the word. Well, slightly. It’s purely an interaction based on taking a series of photos… “Smile,” she says, [irritating giggle], “Ok, silly face now.” I mean I couldn’t even pull together a photoshoot this solid and I have a background in production. But here they are. Almost climbing their table with fake smiles to get that perfect pic to post, to show everyone what a hoot of a time their having. Annnndddd photo captured. Phew. Stare at phones again, individually. Don’t converse.

Keep hoeing down that pasta Teresa, that basil is so fresh, pasta so tasty, handmade I think. And, sip of Prosecco. Look over to the right. Woah. Big guns are out. No more phones. The iPad has joined them for dinner. The guy to my right, with his significant other, has pulled it out, fairly casually. It’s the latest iPad too. And no, it’s not to browse houses and talk the dream with his Mrs. It’s to watch a film — solo. A child’s film. No kids present on table. The wifey/ girlfriend is now sitting, staring into thin air. Mostly empty plates on their table now. I wonder what she’s thinking about. ‘What the f**k am I doing? This is what it’s meant to be, right? Why is he watching kids TV, he is near 40. Will we ever buy a house? Wish he would wash his hair.’

My eyes dart directly in front of me this time (nothing to see here, just the waitress wondering how I am going to put all this food away) as I’m now indulging in a heaven of burrata cheese, rocket, fresh tomato.

Chewing, slowly, sipping Prosecco, eyes dart to the left again, but a little further left past ‘lets take the perfect social media worthy picture’ couple. And, in the corner of my eye, there’s yet another ‘youthful’ couple. Must be date night. The guy, sleeping. Seriously. Actually, sleeping. I actually have a picture. But, I will not humiliate. The girl, on her iPad. Not sure what she’s watching or Googling. Type: How to find a new life partner, I hope.

Laughing Americans are still laughing at their own jokes. Good for them. The occasional reaction to the film on the iPad to my right. And to my left, “Wait, pose.” Click click. Giggle. “No, not that angle, this one.” “Is that one OK? Can I share that one?” “Oh stop it, don’t post that”. “Ha. Ha. Haaaaaaa”.

How about, guys, you don’t share that picture? Share the fact you have no personal skills. No room for human interactions, or spontaneity in your life. That you don’t know how to appreciate, have or embrace genuine authentic moments of happiness? Write that one in 140 characters. See how many likes you get.

That sounds harsh, I know. It actually comes from a place of frustration as an observer. And a good place, deep down. I’m one for the social stuff. Sure. I get it. We are all cool and competing to be noticed in this saturated vortex of a digital world. Shows like these as entertaining as they are only perpetuate the issue. I. Get. It. I mean, heck, my own start up encourages you to use your phone most hours of the day. But fuck. From human to human. Step back. Take a moment. Take a moment to live. Live in it. You may one day need a table for one yourself but be too scared to leave your house for it. Reality — the real world we live in is totally not embraced in the same way it used to be, or should be. We aren’t appreciating what surrounds us anymore and living to our true ability.

And as I finish writing this and now move onto my dessert (yes, I ordered a desert pizza; walnuts, camembert ice cream — you read right!), the selfie stick comes out. Not mine, obvs. Table to the left. And guess who’s in the background with one hand in their pocket and the other one doing a peace sign?

Put your phone down. Just for 5 mins, not seconds. Ask your loved one, how they are. Ask yourself (as hard of a question it may be) how you actually are. Engage in the real world. It’s still out there for you, to experience and love just as our parents and grandparents and great grandparents did; authentically, genuinely.

On the upside, despite my very noticed entrance into the restaurant, none of the couples managed to notice the three course meal I just pocketed. Nor have they yet discovered me in the background of their selfie. I think.

Raw Startupism

Raw Startupism: Sharing truths about startup life, producing no-BS products and using efficient (un)processes. Tales about building our startup chozun 途赞 (@bechozun), what we learn, our successes & challenges, thought pieces, ICO info and other startup life essentials.

Teresa Truda

Written by

Super Geek. Speaker. Advisor. Love travel. Eat food. Make out with tech. Love to have my way with words, occasionally. More: teresatruda.com

Raw Startupism

Raw Startupism: Sharing truths about startup life, producing no-BS products and using efficient (un)processes. Tales about building our startup chozun 途赞 (@bechozun), what we learn, our successes & challenges, thought pieces, ICO info and other startup life essentials.

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