Eating Out is Stressful

For the first time since March, I actually sat down in a restaurant for a meal today. Our family has been supporting local restaurants during the pandemic, either through delivery or take-out.

Take out is much easier. We just pay ahead of time as I often order online, walk in with usually no wait, and then walk out. No mess, usually contactless, no fuss. Minimal risk. The best way to do it right now.

The reason I was eating out was for a working lunch with my team. All of whom haven’t really seen one another in person since March either, when we became full-time teleworkers. There are the Zoom, Teams, and Webex meetings, but they aren’t the same as being face-to-face.

We went to Bru Burgers near my house. Everyone was already there when I arrived. Sitting around the table, sipping drinks, and chatting. It was so, well, so normal. It was a little disconcerting at first, because I’ve only been around my immediate family for the past six months.

It was stressful not because I was with friends and colleagues, it was because of everyone around us. The wait staff, the hostess, other customers, all appropriately masked. Being around people was odd.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see and meet with the team, people I’ve come to know over the past 20 months, through wedding plans, baby plans, moving, buying houses, and such. We have a pretty good team whom cares about one another, and works very well together.

Throughout lunch, I had to keep reminding myself not to touch my face. I kept wondering had the person rolling the napkin and silverware worn gloves while doing so? Did the person putting them on the table wear gloves, recently wash their hands, or use sanitizer? Was it okay to open and touch my straw since I’d been touching things (although I did bring my own little hand sanitizer spritzer, which I used)? What about the plates, and touching my food to eat? Were any of the people arriving and walking beside us a carrier and didn’t know it? All the risk hazards were in the forefront of my mind, even as I was enjoying myself and the conversation as a working lunch to begin planning our conference for next year.

As we move through this pandemic, and move back to be a social society, eating out, concerts, movies, band contests, and such, it will take a little while to acclimate back to being around people. We’ve been told so much to social distance, wear a mask, and don’t congregate with large numbers of people. It’s having a profound effect on us all, and I wonder if some of those effects are so subtle and in our sub-conscience, we won’t even put cause and effect together when we have a negative reaction to being in society again.

I fully understand and support why we have to be in society this way right now. But, even very much as an introvert, who prefers to be alone 99% of the time, it is affecting me. I can only imagine how it is affecting extroverts like my husband.

I’m glad I went to lunch. It just may be a while before I dine in a restaurant again. Who needs the added stress right now!

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