Cafes, and eating lunch alone

3/1/11 2:48:48 PM -- Boston , Massachusetts Blue State Coffee shop for Lunch Series Photo by Vernon Doucette  for Boston University Photography
Photo: Source

Most days, I eat lunch at my desk, which admittedly is a bad habit, but one I’ll deal with later. Sometimes I’ll go out to a cafe for lunch with a friend. This is my way of socialising: it’s one to one so we can really talk to one another and catch up, and it’s time constrained so it doesn’t wear me out like a whole evening out does. (The weariness is not because I don’t enjoy my friends, it’s because social activity tires me out, much like dancing all night might do for others more gregarious than me.)

There are times, though, when I feel like eating a somewhat more interesting lunch than a sandwich, but I don’t want company. So I go to a cafe on my own and eat lunch. Lunch is, in my view, the second easiest meal to eat alone. Breakfast, especially in a hotel when you are traveling, is the easiest, because almost everyone else in the room is also eating alone.

There is almost no expectation in cafes that you will be with someone. It’s very common to see people sitting on their own, drinking coffee or eating. Often they are working on a laptop, but not exclusively. If you have something to read, be it your phone or a magazine, book or newspaper, that can make it so much easier, but it’s not necessary.

When I’m out shopping on a weekend, I’ll usually treat myself to lunch, and since I can’t abide shopping with other people I will inevitably be eating alone.

If you’re not used to eating alone in public, I’d recommend starting with morning coffee out by yourself. When you’re comfortable with that, move on to lunch on your own, in a busy cafe, and do this on a weekday when the turnover is fast and no-one is paying attention to anyone else. Weekends tend to be a bit more “couple-y”, and if you’re prone to feeling a bit self conscious about your aloner status, that probably won’t help.

For me, time to sit down and eat on my own is a welcome respite from the working day. It’s treasured quiet time. Combining that time out with delicious food and a good quality coffee makes it seem all the more special. Enjoy it.