#677 When you’re awkwardly standing by yourself with a full cafeteria tray of food and then suddenly spot your friend waving at you

load up and find a seatThe dreaded Cafeteria Standalone.

Blue plastic tray wobbling in both hands carrying a big rolling glass of iced tea and a heavy ceramic plate loaded with steaming roast beef, wet mashed potatoes, and bland baby carrots, you exit the cafeteria line and glance at the full crowd in front of you.

It’s the high school cafeteria, the workplace lunchroom, or the food court at the mall. Everybody is laughing, at you maybe, while you stand and stare out at the kaleidoscopic sea of smiling faces.

As the seconds tick by you feel more and more out of place.

Maybe you quickly glance around the room while pretending to get ketchup. Maybe you walk in a couple different directions so you aren’t clogging up the lanes or looking too obvious. Or maybe you just get really anxious and wonder if you’re going to have to sit by yourself.

But just as you’re beginning to lose hope you eventually you see them.

It’s your friends in the distance.

And they’re waving.


which way do you go

Photos from: here and here

35 thoughts on “#677 When you’re awkwardly standing by yourself with a full cafeteria tray of food and then suddenly spot your friend waving at you

  1. We always sit in the same spot, so that’s never a problem. We don’t tend to buy our lunches either, given that the cafeteria food has a bit of a… reputation. I’m sure some people can relate to this one though! :)

  2. I swear you have a hidden camera following me: I can’t get over how often these awesome things are ridiculously applicable to me. This one happened to me today. And it was AWESOME.

  3. In high school we all had our clique zones laid out in the cafeteria. But college was different; I can totally relate to this post. Especially if you’re all on different schedules, you’re in an unfamiliar cafeteria, you’re all loaded up and boom! Who is that waving at you? Hey, it’s your roomie/ friend from class/sorority sister, etc. Wonderful feeling!

  4. Oh the unimaginable joy and relief of spotting your friends after standing around looking like a lost kid! It just cannot be described in mere words.

  5. Awesome things like this are the reason I read this site…not “all the food that comes from a cow” or “ducks.”

  6. When I eat I don’t want people bothering me actually. So sitting alone when I’m amongst a bunch of strangers is absolutely fine.

  7. oh, oh, OH. haunting the ketchup/dessert island was the only way to get a really good view of who was in the dining hall, but you had to walk the entire food gauntlet to get there, and the food rarely justified such effort on its own.

  8. What’s a “cafeteria”? Sorry if that sounds dumb. I’ve only heard of them in American fiction.

  9. I have no idea of what’s wrong with me, but standing and looking for people almost gives me panic attacks.

    Even if we walk in together and separate for food stations, I can’t do this. I can look for a few seconds, but not long. Sometimes, I just give up and sit alone, because it’s less stressful than looking for them. Plus, if I do find them, and they’re close friends that KNOW I have anxiety about this, I’d get a little angry because they didn’t look out. I know this is irrational, and I don’t say anything right at the table, but I’m a little silent at the start of the meal, until I could get my anxiety and anger under control. I will say something later, and now most of my friends know about this little “quirk” and generally look out for me.

    Now I am SO THANKFUL for text and cell. I won’t walk in to a restaurant until I’m aware of their location. And I know my true friends, they’re the ones that get up and meet me at the door!

  10. Standing alone in a cafeteria’s can be very anxiety and humbling provoking, especially if you’re just looking for something other than the room service as a patient at a very large teaching hospital wher pretty near every student has seen pretty near every square inch of you for one reason or another!!!
    Do us all a favor and just wave us over would you? You know we’re lonely and embar-ass-ed already!
    Thank you.

  11. Word. No matter how generally confident you are, there’s something at staring through a mass of people looking for someone you recognise to make you look alone, and a little vulnerable and sheepish. It’s even worse when you know there’s not going to be anyone you know well, and you have to decide between walking up to the table where there are lots of people you don’t know (to sit with a couple of acquaintances) or pretend you didn’t see them and sit alone. Aargh, decisions, decisions. That’s why the best part is having reached a level with acquaintances where you know they don’t mind you joining them and their friends. The relief that you’re not imposing…AWESOME.

  12. i have a biggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg crushh on tuomas murray!! so gorgeous!! But than im cheating on jaydyn

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