Jacke Vance

So, yeah, these days I’m a healthcare road warrior. Pretty much every week I cram five days’ worth of clothes and mini toiletries in a carry-on bag. (I can get two weeks of stuff in that carry-on if need be!) and on from car to plane to car I go.

It’s not so bad. I get to travel this great nation and from my experiences, bring back stories and laughter to … well, at least a dozen or so of you! [Editor’s note: She’s way too humble.] And, as much as I love cooking (I really do, it’s my hobby) I don’t mind eating out and not having to wash dishes or my Instant-pot (my latest addiction). Sometimes I even get to eat at places where I don’t have to order off a placemat or a brightly lit screen behind a counter!

But eating out alone can be uncomfortable. Not for me, but apparently for people around me. Like, sometimes the host or hostess will argue with me about letting me have a table for one. There is a Chinese food family restaurant I enjoy in rural Atlanta when I’m there. However, they seem to not want to have a solo diner.

The usual conversation goes something like this after I walk in the door:

“Them: “Do you want carryout”

Me: “No. I’d like a table please.”

Them: “Oh, you’re waiting for people?”

Me: “No, I’m by myself. Table for one please”

Them: “It’s OK, get carryout”

Me: “No, I don’t want carryout. Table for one please?”

Them: “You’re sure you don’t want carryout? It’s no problem.”

Me: “I really want to dine in thank you. Table for one, please.”

Them. “OK,” shouting to wait staff, “This lady is alone. She wants a table. Put her in the corner.”

This really happens, every time. Maybe because it’s a family restaurant and they think someone dining alone will depress the families?! Should I put my dog in a stroller and wrap her in a blanket and pretend she’s my baby? (OK, she is my baby, but I digress …)

Then, there are the people who just kind of look at you. Like something must be wrong with you to be eating alone. I know paranoia seems like a disease now in our country but many of you have seen me. I’m not your “serial killer”-looking kind of gal. I’ve got more of an, “I haven’t slept in days and I need a good shower” vibe.

Then there are those folks that I am sure are afraid I am listening in on their conversation. I mean, come on … Sure, like I care what they thought of their cousin Denise’s baby shower planning. (I am actually still wondering if Denise will go with the nautical or zoo theme.)

Sometimes, I decide to play along. If someone at the table next to me has a birthday, and it’s “Michael’s” birthday, I want to turn around and say in a sneering tone, “Yeah, happy birthday, MICHAEL, enjoy celebrating with all of your friends!”

OK, I haven’t really done it, but I sure have thought about it.  Then, of course, I start laughing to myself and the wait staff comes over and says, “You sure you don’t want carryout?”

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.