Monday, June 30, 2003

I don't mind eating on my own in hotel restaurants too much. The trick, I discovered, is to take a book along with you so that you're not left gazing into space while waiting for your food. I noticed one 'table for one' gentleman last night (old enough to be my grandfather) sending SMS messages while he waited. I guess this could be seen as a form of polite dinner conversation, assuming the person on the other end of the messages is in a similar situation.
So here are my two suggestions for ending 'table for one' loneliness:

1) Implement a pairing system within the hotel restaurant. You inform the waitress if you would be interested in company (should company be available). She could then sit you with a single diner who was already in the restaurant (and wished company). If none are available, then you sit alone until one comes along.
To avoid embarrassment, a level of uncertainty would have to be built into the pairing process. Occasionally, the waitress would have to refuse to sit you with a single, even though they and you both wouldn't mind company. Therefore should you be sitting alone when a single enters who is shown to their own table, you would never know if they had refused to be seated with you, or if it was one of those occasional moments when the waitress had lied to the guest as to your status (the guest would also be under similar uncertainty as to your status).
The problem I see arising with this is if there are more than one single guest. I haven't worked through this yet. You could have the concept of multiple dinner guests, or the concept of preferred dinner guests (obviously with an uncertainty element build in). I'll have time to work through this idea the next time I'm eating alone.

2) Implement an SMS pairing system that works over a group of restaurants (this could stretch over many places with a similar time zone). I guess this is a bit like an internet chat room for people dining alone, only I figure you'd only be working with pairs of people. Two people would then be able to carry out dinner conversation of sorts.

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