A Comprehensive Guide To Dining Alone At A Diner

1. Enter the diner. Do not buy a gumball. Do not try to win something in the claw machine. Do not pick up a complimentary copy of Auto Trader. Great minds through history have made it through meals sans Auto Trader. You will soon join their ranks.

2. Stand uncomfortably in the vestibule. Look for evidence of seating protocol. If you are instructed to Please Seat Yourself, choose a seat from which you have a view of the entire restaurant. If you are instructed to Please Wait to be Seated, ask for a booth. Make sure this booth is not near an air conditioner or other source of indoor wind.

3. Open menu. Marvel at the expansive variety of dishes proffered at this diner. Wonder how the proprietor managed to find a chef with the extensive technical know-how to cook clams casino, quesadillas, and vegetable dumplings.

4. Wonder how many other diners use the same stock photo of a tuna melt on their menu.

5. “Sure, I’ll take another minute.”

6. Choose an entree according to the following guidelines:

  • If it can be argued that you are still in the realm of breakfast or brunch, you will be ordering breakfast food.
  • If you are out of the range of breakfast, you will be ordering one of the following options: a) breakfast, b) something with the last name “melt,” c) something that you suspect will arrive impaled with a frilly toothpick, d) something with gravy.

Note: Do not order a steak unless it is Salisbury in nature. Do not order seafood unless it is fried shrimp or tuna salad. Do not order a salad. Do not substitute your fries for a salad.  Do not order a Panini or a wrap. There are times and places for these behaviors. They are not, however, acceptable at a diner.

7. Narrow your meal choice down to two entirely different options. Stress over which you are in the mood for.

8. “Yes, I’m ready to order.”

9. Change your mind at the last minute and order neither of the previous two options.

10. If your impending meal involves bread, the answer is rye.

11. Begin the wait for your food.

12. Wonder if the installation of a faux Tiffany lamp is a mandatory bylaw in diner zoning law.

13. Try to distinguish which elements of the diner’s décor were present at the time that it opened, and which were added ex post-facto. Hint: Everything (except for maybe a few staff members) is original.

14. Look at the placemat. Wonder how much business “Arthur’s Stair Chair” gets from their business-card-sized ad. Wonder what it is like to ride in a stair chair.  Vow to ride a stair chair someday.

15. Look at other diner patrons. Choose one table to hate for an arbitrary reason. Consider: what they are eating, volume of conversation, if they “seem like jerks.”

16. Your food is here! Is there toast? Quickly! Apply butter before the toast cools!

17. Put ketchup on your food. Get grossed out by how many times the glass bottle has been refilled without being washed. Do not look at the tomato smegma crusted around the inside of the cap. Do not look at the Chuck-E-Cheese-ball-pit-esque residue stuck to the adhesive under the curling label. Instead, slide your knife into the bottle and think about how much lycopene you are about to consume.

18. Drink some of your beverage. Try to come up with another object that is made of the same diner-cup-plastic that your cup is made out of. You can’t. The diner industry holds the patent on kind-of-rough-kind-of-smooth, red-or-translucent-mustard-colored plastic.

19. “Yes everything was great… I’ll take a check when you get a chance.”

20. Pay with cash. Help your mouth to one complimentary mint. Help your purse to fifteen or twenty.

21. Exit the diner. No, you may not play the claw machine. TC mark

image – Justin

More From Thought Catalog

  • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

    Why is it only 20-somethings that have this horrible objection to eating/going to concerts/movies alone? 

    It’s not really a big deal

    • http://twitter.com/kelvin_lee Kelvin Lee

      It’s a horribly big deal.

      • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

        Are you one of those people that couldn’t go to the dining hall in college by themselves either? 

      • http://twitter.com/kelvin_lee Kelvin Lee

        You are correct.

    • S.H.

      SCREW YOU. I’m 21 and I just got back from eating at a restaurant by myself AND I DO SO ON A REGULAR BASIS.

      • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

        I’m not saying 20somethings can’t – I can and I’m 21, obviously you can SINCE YOU USED CAPLOCKS TO LET EVERYONE KNOW – but this is a sentiment I only ever hear expressed by people in our generation. 

      • PINA

        shut up.
        thanks in advance.
        bye.

      • xra

        how bafflingly rude

      • a.

        Sorry you’re so alone in the world.

      • S.H.

        Except that it’s this thing called a “choice”. You know? The wonder of living an independent life? Ring any bells? No…?

      • Guestropod

        you need a fucking xanny

      • Guestropod

        you need a fucking xanny

      • Lynn

        def 21…

  • http://www.nintendojo.com/ Andrew Hsieh

    It’s the smegma that makes diner ketchup special.

  • http://www.nintendojo.com/ Andrew Hsieh

    It’s the smegma that makes diner ketchup special.

  • Guestropod

    or you could just chill the fuck out and read or something

  • Inconnu

    flip a shit when guy at the bar orders a “giant glass of milk”

    • TAYLOR

      GHOST WORLD

  • Anonymous

    I would add: If it is lunchtime, and a club is available, order it. It’s hard to fuck up a sandwich made with toast!

    Have you seen diners reading nooks/kindles while alone? I’ve seen it several times, but not as an overwhelming trend.

  • Anonymous

    I would add: If it is lunchtime, and a club is available, order it. It’s hard to fuck up a sandwich made with toast!

    Have you seen diners reading nooks/kindles while alone? I’ve seen it several times, but not as an overwhelming trend.

  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    Why wouldn’t you play the claw machine? I don’t understand.

  • STR

    Nice, Jamie!

  • STR

    Nice, Jamie!

  • Vera

    what even is this?

  • Brogan

    I really don’t get this at all… Why do I have go follow these guidelines…?

  • Anonymous

    One time I ate alone in Mt. Shasta, CA at the Black Bear Diner. They had a two-top booth right near the door with one side taken up by the hugest stuffed black bear a person’s ever seen. The hostess made me sit with it even though I protested and even though there were plenty of open tables around the place. Every single person who came in stopped to comment on what an attractive lunch date I had. Do not ever do this. Do not ever sit at this booth with this bear. It was so lonely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    Some of us are destined to eat alone, live alone, and die alone.  It happens. 

  • Liza

    Funny but not really necessary. Eating by yourself is happens but it’s whateva…food rox!

  • f.r.

    This was incredibly pointless. I’m sorry but this just tried to make me “feel ashamed that you are sitting alone at a  *diner*.” 
    Oh they are just soooo uncool. Heaven forbid you go to a diner. Who cares? It’s a diner, you’re hungry,
    enjoy yourself. Why would you make yourself miserable when you’re
    spending money AND eating?

     

  • Chris

    I love this. I don’t know why people are so focused on the “eating alone” part. I just appreciate that these same random thoughts have come to my mind while eating at a diner. And I wasn’t even eating alone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    between 14 and 15, break wind. 

  • Mel

    wait so is everyone insane or am i? how do people not “get” this…it’s not meant to be “gotten,” it’s just hilarious as the piece of art it is. thank you. 

  • Mel

    wait so is everyone insane or am i? how do people not “get” this…it’s not meant to be “gotten,” it’s just hilarious as the piece of art it is. thank you. 

  • Kait

    This was so funny. People shouldn’t take it so bloody seriously… obviously you may play the claw machine if you like

  • Kait

    This was so funny. People shouldn’t take it so bloody seriously… obviously you may play the claw machine if you like

  • Anonymous

    I’d add “check your phone a zillion times so everyone thinks you have friends you’re meeting later when no one cares really.”

    Nice work, JK.

  • Anonymous

    I’d add “check your phone a zillion times so everyone thinks you have friends you’re meeting later when no one cares really.”

    Nice work, JK.

blog comments powered by Disqus