My family came out to Dallas tonight to go to my cousin Austin’s football game, and they were having dinner at Luby’s a few miles from my house, so I met them. I got through the line first, so I went and sat down at a table near the back corner. Not two seconds after I sat down, a voice from behind me asked, “Excuse me.” I turned around and saw a man in maybe his 50s or 60s eating at the table behind me. “Yes, sir?” I asked. He laughed that I called him sir, and said, “Are you eating alone?” I told him my family was coming, and as I said that, some of them were heading toward me. He stammered, oh, I was just thinking, you know, conversation, nevermind. As they were sitting down, he said, “You have a lovely family.” If I HAD been eating alone, I wouldn’t have given another thought to sitting down with him and chatting a bit over dinner. But they were there, and the timing was awkward, and I wasn’t comfortable asking him to join us, because I thought my parents would find it odd. So I just smiled and said thank you and turned to my family and ate.

I couldn’t concentrate on them until he left – I was just heartbroken that this lonely man had reached out to me, and that I had, in effect, ignored him. Maybe it’s because I’ve been alone at work a lot since taking the new job, or that I’ve been eating a lot of meals alone at home over lunch because I work so close to my house, or that I haven’t been seeing my friends as much as usual lately, but my heart just broke for him. I looked around, and I noticed many others sitting alone, eating their dinner. What is it about Luby’s that attracts older, single eaters? I feel like I should start a Luby’s outreach program, just drop by one night a week and eat with people who have no one to eat with. I compensated by over-tipping the waitress. I watched him as he was leaving. I tried to catch his eye as he got up to say goodbye and wish him a good evening, but he didn’t look at me. He walked to the bathroom area, and on his way, he stopped to talk to a large group of elderly eaters at a long table, and then he paid and left. He obviously was willing to reach out to others, which is a sign of someone who will be okay, and I know he’s fine, just lonely. I know that I cannot consort with every lonely person out there, because I could get taken advantage of – I saw Patch Adams:) I’m not kidding myself that I’m responsible for this man’s happiness, or that he was embarassed, or that I offended him in any way, but the fact that I did not reach back when he reached out just makes my stomach hurt. I won’t be making that mistake again.


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