Anxieties

November 4, 2010 at 4:35 am (Uncategorized) ()

I have An Ordering Problem. At restaurants, I mean. My mother has it also. As far as I know, this condition has no genetic link and was passed down by example, or lack thereof. 

An Ordering Problem (AOP) is a type of performance anxiety. It can be painful to watch.  You may have AOP if you find yourself flustered as waitstaff approach you. What was I going to have again? Quick, I’ll find it again on the menu. Then I can just point. Look down, look down, maybe she won’t start with me. Ruffle menu pages. Noo, she’s calling on ME. “I’ll have… (scanning) …I’ll have… this!”, pointing at the menu and making the waiter squint at the words in the dim light.

“And would you like a salad with that?” Uh, I don’t know. Crap! Is everybody else having salad? I didn’t ask. I don’t want to hold up everybody by having the lone salad by myself. But I also don’t want to sit with nothing while everyone else eats one. “Uhhh, OK, I’ll have a house salad.” “What dressing?” Good God, you people with all these choices!

One thing is sure- when I do get the rare chance to eat out, AOP isn’t going to stop me. It just makes things awkward momentarily.  Do you know anybody with AOP or a similar embarrassing anxiety?
 
Waiters hate people with AOP.

It’s not that I can’t pronounce what I’m ordering. It’s not that I’m intimidated by words like aioli or masala or Romanesco.

For me, I think my AOP is rooted in indecision and in unconformability with talking to strangers. I didn’t grow up with one of those “chatty moms” who’ll talk to random people anywhere.  Also, I’m a bit of a tightwad.  I don’t want to order something and then realize it wasn’t what I wanted.  Though I’m happy to spend for the perfect meal.

What will the waitress think of my choice? Am I being cheap? Should I add a drink? Am I ordering way too much food, looking piggy? Then I have to remember what I’m supposed to order while having conversation. It keeps me antsy. I always feel so much better after I’ve ordered.

Why in the world do I care what a random waitress thinks of what I want to eat? Who I’m paying to serve me. I can’t explain.

Different friends approach my AOP using different tactics. I had a co-worker and friend who I often ate with for years. Once I decided what I wanted, I told him, and he ordered for me. Voila, I found the relief I get after ordering, as soon as I told him. I kind of liked the chivalry of it too, I have to admit. My actual husband, though, is not willing to take on that burden.

He doesn’t really love ordering either. He doesn’t care what people think of him (you should see what he’ll wear into the grocery store), he just can’t decide. His answer is to tell the waiter to pick out his meal for him. At nicer restaurants, most don’t blink. But at a place like Red Robin, they don’t like it. “Anything? What do you like?” He never helps them out with any guidelines. And it always works out.

I had another friend who took the opposite strategy. She had me order for the table. This was back in my single days when I ate at least five night a week. It actually worked, for a time. It was somehow easier to be completely in charge. No waiting for others to order, building up my anxiety. But I’m now out of practice. I feel that old AOP creeping up on me. I don’t get out that much these days. 

One thing is sure- when I do get the rare chance to eat out, AOP isn’t going to stop me. It just makes things awkward momentarily.  Do you know anybody with AOP or a similar embarrassing anxiety?

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