On certain Friday nights, our son, Ian, has lacrosse practice from 8-10pm. It’s not ideal for family dinner, but it is a short season and he really loves his team and the game, so we deal with it the best way we can – by feeding him early, dropping him off at practice, and heading out for a bite to eat until it’s time to pick him up.
Recently, we followed the typical plan and decided to run over to one of our favorite Mexican joints – a tiny little, family-owned place that has been there forever and a day (well, since 1960), Torreon. It’s always busy, but we hoped to get lucky and snag a table. Well, it wasn’t to be. We took a seat in the very small “lounge” area (really, it’s the hallway where you walk into the restaurant… there are a few tables that serve as bar seating, but suffice it to say that there ain’t much breathing room!) and channeled encouragement for diners to hurry and finish their meals so we could be served before we had to head back to the sports center.
When we sat down, the couple next to us, Michael and Maria, struck up a conversation. We were exchanging friendly barbs about our favorite college sports teams and were having a lot of fun. The jovial air took a turn when the hostess approached the other couple and said, “Your table is ready.” We started to say our goodbyes when Michael asked the hostess, “Is it a two-top or a four-top?” When she responded it could seat four, Michael invited us to join them for dinner.
Wow! What a great idea! We enthusiastically accepted. Not only would it get us seated, but it would be fun to carry on the conversation and get to know this friendly pair.
Though we came from different backgrounds… though our ages were varied… though our politics were not aligned… none of that mattered. For every bit of history that was different, we found plenty of commonalities. We discovered similarities and people we all knew and schools we all rooted for and valuable ideas and information to exchange. We had plenty to talk about and our time ran out long before we ran out of topics for discussion. We left having become acquainted with two great people. Isn’t it amazing what “breaking bread” with others can do? It is a calming factor that has the added benefit of bringing people together and helping them to find common ground. It was wonderful.
The lesson: The next time you find yourself waiting patiently for a table… if you can accommodate it… consider inviting others to join you. What a great way to create a Community Table. Whether you know them or not, I guarantee that by the end of your meal you will know more about one another, find ways to be helpful to each other and enjoy delicious food – and even better conversation – together.