I never eat out—except when I do, of course. I did so when I had two hours to pass away before my return bus’s departure when I finished teaching/examining. I could have taken the more expensive, less comfortable and Wi-Fi-less train, but I’m loyal to my preferred bus service (less expensive, more comfortable and Wi-Fi-equipped). I thought I could have a lunch somewhere while waiting, as I’ve grown increasingly fed up with my low-calorie food diet (fed is probably not the best word choice in reference to my diet) and was craving actual food (I maintain that vegetables and tofu do not qualify as actual food).
I spent much time deciding if I’d go for lunch and even more time deciding where to go for lunch. I’m indecisive. I’m also scared of people and eating out requires dealing with them. I went through my agonisingly slow deciding process while sitting on a bench in the scorching heat and chain-smoking (two is already a chain), vaguely unhappy with myself. Perhaps I could just as well remain here, contemplating my incompetence, and making do with my crisp rice bread snack? But then the thought of food that is actually food was so tempting.
I consulted my mobile device for eating places nearby. All of them looked OK, none of them looked like a must-visit though. Round the corner there was what turned out to be a vegetarian diner—so as to prove to myself that I’m not biased, I checked out the daily menu posted on their web and found that they offered sweet rice and a tofu meal. Now, that’s not much of an improvement when compared to the rice bread in my handbag and the tofu in my fridge. As I noticed I was already starting to draw attention (a nervous person sitting alone and fidgeting on a bench is bound to want to blow something up), I abandoned my post and went in the nearest restaurant across the street.
Inside, I planned to tuck myself into a corner somewhere, but seating options suitable for a single person were somewhat limited, so I climbed on a slightly raised platform strewn with a bunch of small tables. That was a largely counter-intuitive choice, but at least the platform lined the wall. I hate open spaces (which is another way of saying I’m agoraphobic). The waiters (or, as one of my students termed them during her oral exam, the servants) were complaisant (which always makes me embarrassed for myself for no good reason), and the menu offered chicken wraps and a pasta salad (which I deemed acceptable).
I was so cheeky as to ask if I could have the salad without dressing. I don’t like my food all sticky with a semi-fluid substance of dubious colour and texture. The waiter reported that the dressing was already mixed in the meal; so never mind, let’s try the wraps. The waiter double-checked, correcting my wraps pronunciation (I czechified it, but the waiter was probably proud he knew how to pronounce it in English, so I naturally didn’t mention my PhD in English and tried not to let on the depth of my embarrassment). I asked for water then, possibly with a slice of lemon or something, because I reasoned it would be cheaper than mineral water.
The food was alright but rather expensive, and the tap water turned out to be outright overpriced. Good to know that next time I should just have beer, which is the cheapest drink you can get (cheaper than water and cheaper than bread). I was quite proud of myself because I ventured to interact with people (I hated it) and I confirmed my initial suspicion that eating out was neither affordable nor too delightful when practised alone. I’m also pleased to report an entertaining incident: as I was leaving, I obviously forgot all about me being on a raised platform, and I nearly faceplanted, to the genuine concern of the nearby waiter. He advised me to mind the step.