The Rant: Is it OK to dine alone?

00:41, Mar 20 2014
Dining alone - Elizabeth Johnson
DINING ALONE: Is it socially acceptable to dine or take a holiday alone?

I was sitting in a restaurant the other night, by myself, by choice, enjoying the ambience and the excellent food when a family - mum, dad and daughter - set down at the adjacent table.

You say hello as most friendly people do. Astoundingly, the mum said she wanted to move because she didn't want to sit next to a man by himself, as he might be a dirty old man. It's not often I'm stuck for words, but on this occasion I was.

I should point out that I am not a paedophile, voyeur, dirty old man, or a sex offender. I'm simply a widower with two grown-up daughters, a grandfather with family overseas or in other New Zealand cities, and I am ensconced in an earthquake-damaged home waiting for those problems to be resolved.

Discrimination happens to men and women who are by themselves. The travel industry, restaurants, ticketing agents and similar groups appear to be the worst offenders.

I would love to do a cruise, but I am still to find a cruise line where I can have a balcony suite or window suite without having to pay double for the privilege, as those are all advertised as twin share.

Airlines are not much better. Being a frequent flyer, I always book online, but being a single, choices of seats are limited and on occasion I have been asked to change seats. I was offloaded once because of a double booking, as they had a couple booked and two seats available mine being one of them.

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I have stopped counting the number of times I have been asked "Is that for two?" or "Will you be joined by your wife?" and that look over your shoulder to see who is with you as if you must be with someone. And the looks at the beach or pool.

And when are supermarkets going to pack meat and vegetables in packs suitable for the single person?

By the way the look I got from the mother in the restaurant when I was joined by a female friend was satisfying enough.

The Rant is a forum to let off some steam. If you would like to submit up to 350 words on a topic, email us at goodliving@press.co.nz

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