I don’t know you. We never spoke. You were in Outback on Saturday night, sitting alone in a booth. The restaurant was very crowded – full of families, children, couples, and work parties. I was eating dinner with my friend who really doesn’t like crowds. Or children. He was struggling to be patient and keep his cool. When he would get up to go to the restroom, or focus on his macaroni and cheese, I would look up and notice you.
You arrived alone, squeezed into a small booth, and immediately took out your phone. You looked very angry and possibly sad. There was a large family occupying the table in front of you. They were laughing and sharing stories, and it seemed to bother you.
When you ordered your appetizer, it took a while to arrive and then I guess the server brought the wrong thing because you sent it back. You seemed to appear very irritated. You went back to whatever you were doing on your phone.
You looked up a few times, and I wanted to smile but I also didn’t want to creep you out. You looked so lonely and I felt sad.
You had not put much effort into your appearance that evening. I could tell sitting in a small booth was very uncomfortable for you.
I guess what I want to say is that I’ve been there, and I hope more for you and I both. I’ve walked into a crowded restaurant practically in my pajamas before. I’ve sat alone, trying to ignore the fact that someone else could see me. I’ve ordered the most indulgent thing on the menu, pretending to eat in secret, and thought the food could be my companion. I’ve sat alone in a booth for two, wishing someone would join me but praying no one would see me. I’ve stared at my phone through a meal pretending not to care.
I wanted to greet you and hear your story. I wanted to know why you were at Outback alone just days before Christmas and what irritated you. I wanted to share a bit of my story with you and see if you could relate. I wanted to let you know that I felt sad – not for you, but with you.
I hope you have someone to share Christmas with you. I hope there are not many more nights alone at Outback in your future. I hope someone steps into your life and disrupts it, like friends and strangers have done for me.
I guess what I really want to tell you is that someone saw you, and cared. You weren’t missed. It hurts to want to be invisible and actually feel invisible at the same time.
May you never be missed again.