I sit at restaurants alone a lot. I enjoy the time to eat a good meal that I didn’t have to prepare, to ruminate about what’s going on in my life, and to be entertained by the antics and conversation of people around me. This last bit of information is a bonus because I don’t have to pay for the entertainment. It comes free with my meal.
I am a writer and so I tend to listen more closely to the words being exchanged around me. I don’t come to restaurants just to be in the midst of interactions but I certainly like watching people and hearing their sometimes profound, sometimes inane opinions.
I was eating by myself at a restaurant the other night and, as always, was saddened to hear the ungrammatical sentences flowing through the air. Also, not surprisingly, the constant use of fillers to bridge those sentences. Ums and uhs. What shocks me most is a horrible speaking pattern by the most educated people. I wonder how they ever made it, post-university, to an elite, high-paying job.
A conversation was going on at a corner table not too far away from me. The woman doing most of the talking made it very clear that she had graduated from university. She peppered her conversation with words such as daunting, ones you don’t always confront when you communicate with others.
And yet the number of likes, you knows, and ums she used was devastating. In fact, while I waited for my meal, in a span of 20 minutes, she used like as a filler 40 times. And those are the ones I could hear, as her voice was very quiet at times.
I know what some people might be thinking: that I don’t have a life.
But for those of us who are writers, who care about the language, and who have no other person at the table to focus on, this is a big deal.
Plus, as I’ve stressed, I wasn’t charged admission.