New friends at the next table

We all eavesdrop on our neighbors sitting at restaurants. But are you ever allowed to actually join in a stranger’s conversation?

Yesterday, I stopped by a new restaurant (Father and Son in Skokie — I recommend it!) for a quick lunch on the go. I had about 20 minutes to order, wait for my food, eat, and get back in the car in order to make it to my meeting on time.

I didn’t bring any reading material to the restaurant, so I sat, playing with Pinterest on my phone while I waited for my food.

With two men at a table only inches away from mine, I couldn’t help overhearing their conversation. The 20-something men looked like an odd couple — they wore casual clothes but spoke as if they were on an awkward first date, asking each other basic questions like where they lived.

They started talking about digital cameras — and they even discussed my beloved Canon S95 as one of their favorites. My food came, and though it was hot, I tried to scarf it down as quickly as I could. One of the men made some sort of comment about women or girlfriends that I didn’t hear — and then he turned and spoke directly to me saying, “No offense to girls!”

“What?” I said. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t hear what you were talking about. … But I did hear you talk about digital cameras, and I have the S95, and I like it a lot, too.”

“Oh, that’s cool,” said Guy #1. “What do you like to take pictures of?”

We chatted about taking pictures of nature and weddings and friends, and then talked about work and gyms and neighborhoods. Guy #1 was eating a margherita pizza flatbread and asked if I wanted to try a piece.

I quickly assessed whether or not they could be trying to poison me, and I decided they probably weren’t. So I tried a piece. “It’s really good!” I said.

It was time to head out to my meeting. “Nice chatting with you,” I said as I got up from the table.

I wrote just a few weeks ago about the art of talking to strangers in the elevator (and I must admit, it’s harder than I thought) — so I took careful note of this pleasant interaction with strangers. Sometimes at restaurants the tables are packed so tightly together that I almost feel that we’re all at the same meal, and I almost interject a comment about how I read the book they’re discussing or that I’d like to try a bite of their tortellini.

It may be difficult for me to find the courage to reach out to strangers in situations like these; but I find myself glad that there are people out there who are brave enough to reach out to me.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s