A Socially Anxious Person Walks Into a Restaurant...
Being a person with social anxiety, my life is quite the adventure. For instance, I don't have to spend a fortune doing extreme sports for adrenaline. I can just decide to go eat somewhere I'll have to place the order myself.
You see, ordering at a restaurant, all on my own, is not an in-the-moment thing. For it does not simply begin when I see the waiter approaching my table, but actually when a friend first mentions wanting to check out a restaurant I've never been to before.
So, what do I do then to make sure that I act like a normal human being?
I strategise. I practice. I prepare, with at least a whole week in hand.
First order of action, flip through the said restaurant's social media handle in search of the menu. My textbooks watch me from under layers of dust as I scrutinise and memorise every inch of the menu. I cram for the ordeal which involves asking for less sauce on my burger.
Mirror recital, playacting with my cat as the server; I do it all.
As the day arrives and I'm on my way, I give it another thought. Do I really have to go to such lengths to humiliate myself? Why can't restaurants have a text option with the waiters the way most food delivery apps do?
As I glance towards my friend who has no clue about the spiral I'm stuck in, I contemplate making them order for me instead… But, no. I'm an adult.
I can do this. I can do this. I can do this but can I really?
Once there, I must look at the menu as if I haven't routinely checked it every night for the past week to drill it into my memory.
"May I take your order, ma'am?"
There they are, the dreaded words.
That is when I nod in approval and do a second round of a quick skim through. Only this time, I'm not pretending. I'm trying desperately to hold on to the last shreds of information my last two functioning brain cells had retained — and yet I fail miserably.
"O-one cheeseburgerwithlessauceandfriesonthesideplease" I blabber and cringe internally right away. Is that even on the menu?
In the moment of silence that ensues, I pray hard for anything but a requested repetition of my order, to all the divine entities there might be.
"One cheese burger with less sauce and fries on the side, ma'am?"
I've done it! However, it's not over. I prepare once again for the finale.
As my food is served, I clench my jaw and bite my tongue and wait for them to say it.
"Enjoy your meal, ma'am."
I won't. I will NOT say it. I fight my will and my reflexes like never before.
"You too!" I failed, once again. I hang my head in shame as the server walks away with an awkward smile. You really can't win them all, can you?