A Table for One

In Nebraska if you go out with friends after work, you meet for drinks. In Pennsylvania (at least in this area) you meet for “happy hour,” which is what I did this past Friday night. This may not sound like a significant event to most, but it’s somewhat of a milestone for me. To date, my social outings have consisted of lunches and dinners with friends who I used to work with.

A a single person, I’ve discovered the value and importance of treating myself to the things people do when they’re part of a couple. During the week I cook myself nice meals, attend a drawing class, and occasionally make it to my writer’s group meetings. On chilly nights I curl up in front of my fireplace and doodle in my ink journal or work on a drawing.


On weekends I treat myself to an evening out on Friday or Saturday night. Sometimes I request a table for one, other times I sit at the bar, and I always bring along a good book. It doesn’t bother me in the least to ask for a “table for one” or to read my book at the bar; upon occasion I end up putting my book aside and engaging in an entertaining conversation with the people sitting near me.

I find it interesting that people quickly jump to conclusions regarding the reason I’m out by myself. I’m not sure why but often-times they seem to think they should feel sorry for me because I’m alone. A few weeks ago I was sitting at a table, enjoying my meal when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“Oh my dear, I feel so sorry for you,” said a well-meaning woman.

“Why?” I asked.

She patted my shoulder, “Well because you’re all alone, and that’s sad.”

“Really there’s no need to be sad or feel sorry for me. I’m actually very happy and I’d rather spend the evening with a good book than to dine out with someone I don’t enjoy being around.”

I look at it this way, I have two choices: one is to sit at home and feel sorry for myself or two I can live life the way it’s meant to be lived and embrace the community I live in. Having said that, it was also nice to be invited to a happy hour and extend my social circle beyond co-workers from my previous life.

As far as the “well-meaning” woman – I hope she now understands that there’s no need to feel sorry for someone who sits at a “table for one” or in the future keeps her comments to herself.

On the Road Again

the joys of travel

I’m beginning to think I should hang a sign from my rear view mirror similar to the safety record signs in factories, only mine would say “Number of Days Without Getting Lost is ___.” It had been ten days since the Tarot card vs Tax Firm debacle and I was feeling pretty good about the fact that five of those ten days included finding my way around an unfamiliar city without my GPS.

I made it all the way to the last day of my trip until the imaginary counter had to be reset to zero.  I’m not sure how it happened, but in spite of the written directions I picked up at the front desk at the hotel, the map on my iPad, and the detailed verbal instructions from the valet parking guy I still ended up going in the opposite direction of the airport.

Maybe it was because the directions were delivered with a southern drawl so thick I wasn’t sure if he was speaking English, or I lost my concentration when I tried to guess which car would go where as the valet guys shuffled cars around like they were playing Chinese Checkers.  It could be that directions that begin with “go south on…” rather than “turn right at Starbucks” make no sense to me, but whatever the cause, I found myself once again trying to figure out how to turn around when possible.

One thing I’ve learned is that if I stay calm and remember to breathe I can usually figure things out. And in some cases I can even save twenty cents a gallon by topping off the tank of the rental car while lost rather than waiting until I was closer to the airport.  Needless to say, I was happy when I saw the exit marked Airport Boulevard.

I followed the signs to the rental car drop off which seemed very clear up until I had to choose between All Day Parking and Short Term Parking.  I’m not sure if the guy who drove up beside me and shouted “Rental return?” while he pointed toward the All Day Parking option was frustrated or amused by my obvious confusion but I was glad he shouted directions instead of just honking his horn like the previous car that passed by me.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the number forty-seven flash on the luggage scale.  I’d managed to transfer five pounds from my suitcase to my carry on and although I try to be an optimist, I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to have the ninety dollar overweight fee waived two flights in a row.  As the gate agent reached for my boarding pass the lights in the airport flickered, the fans whined, and the airport was suddenly silent and unlit.

She handed me my ticket without looking up, “Y’all got lucky, everyone behind you has to wait for the whole system to reboot.”

Twenty minutes later they opened one security lane, powered by a back-up generator. I passed through the metal detector without so much as a beep only to learn that I’d been randomly selected to receive a special screening. I seem to be “randomly selected” for security screenings almost as often as I get lost.

I felt more than a little exposed standing in the rectangular glass cube between the security lanes and was relieved when it turned out that unlike my last trip only my bags and not my body had been selected for inspection.   I settled down some when I saw there were no changes to the schedule and I was breathing normally by the time I dropped off my duffle bag at the end of the jet way.

All seatbelts had been fastened and the flight attendants had readied the cabin.  Just as the pilot announced, “At this time all passengers must be seated,” the woman in front of me stood and her husband climbed into the aisle with a toothbrush in hand and headed toward the lavatory.

I’m not sure what was more comical, the fact that he brushed his teeth on the plane without regard to the pilot’s announcement or watching him maneuver his six foot plus body into the window seat while his wife remained seated.  I’ll give him this, he did manage to take care of his dental hygiene and still snap his seatbelt buckle in time for the final pass through the cabin.

No Shirt, No Leash, No Excuse

I fear large dogs and geese; it’s a toss-up to say which one causes me more angst when I come across them while biking or running on the towpath.  Not one to miss an opportunity to enjoy nice weather, especially in January, I took my bike for a spin along the canal.  Much to my chagrin, there were more than a few geese along the way and even worse, there were more dogs off than on a leash. 

I’m not sure which boggles my mind more, the fact that people believe that the rules don’t apply to them or that they think they can stop their dog from pursuing a canine love interest, charging a cyclist, nipping at the heels of a runner, or biting a small child.  In my opinion, pets are kind of like babies, no one thinks they are nearly as cute or lovable as you do your own and they are as unpredictable as toddlers.  

I think the next time someone says to me “Don’t be scared, I know he won’t bite you,” my response will be “I never thought my daughter would hurl a shoe and hit the JCPenny shoe guy in the head either, but she did.” (For the record she was two not twenty when the incident occurred). 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like animals or children; I’m the unsuspecting owner of two miniature dachshunds and the proud mother of three young adults who used to be toddlers.  I’m just a firm believer in leashes for dogs and time outs for kids. 

Unfortunately I think the only people that will agree with my sentiments are those of us who are scared of dogs because we’ve been bitten or know someone who’s been bitten and most likely by a dog who’s “never done that before.” 

Fellow dog owners for the safety of your pet and the people on the towpath, in the park, and in the neighborhood, please play by the rules.  They are in place for a good reason.

Class Begins at 6:45

Jingle, jingle, ching, ching….  flip FLOP, flip FLOP…  thwap…SIGH…PLOP.  Fifteen minutes into Yoga class, the door opened and not only filled the room with unwelcome light, but the latecomer to the class chose to set up her space on the opposite side of the room and right next to me. 

Even if you’ve never taken a Yoga class you’d probably guess that it’s a quiet practice and the sounds of keys jingling, flip flops flapping, mats unrolling, and bodies plopping after the class has started, isn’t conducive to the meditation.  I tried my best to keep my eyes forward and remain ‘in the moment,’ but I’m certain that I let an ‘un-yoga-like’ glare or two escape her way.

I was already on a kick about gym manners after my recent experience in the exercise room at work.  I won’t say that the experience was more annoying than someone talking on their cell phone while walking on the treadmill (which was also going on) but the periodic eruption of laughter from the guy on the elliptical next to me was only slightly more tolerable.

I generally think most people could use an overhaul in the manners department.  Almost daily you can read an article about work/cubicle etiquette, internet protocol, how much to tip, and even divorce decorum.  Granted some of it is obscure and not all that useful, like according to Foodies who follow Emily Post, there are times where it’s appropriate to use a fork while eating bacon. (Who knew?).

In spite of the plethora of articles, posts, and advice columns, as a culture, we don’t seem to ‘get it’ and rudeness abounds.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say I have no desire to hear one side of a conversation about a stranger’s marital problems, medical issues, or plans for the weekend, nor do I care to listen to someone’s personal laugh track as they watch their favorite sitcom while they are plugged into an iPhone. And goodness knows that no one wants to hear me sing along at the top of my lungs to my favorite playlist.

It seems pretty simple to me and boils down to common sense and a couple of basic principles: be aware of your surroundings and treat others as you would want them to treat you. After all, aren’t those things we all learned in kindergarten?