My Salata Story

This is a bit of a long story, but one that I felt compelled to share, because it was an important part of my day.

Tonight I decided to eat dinner at Salata. If you’ve ever eaten at a Salata, you’ll know that the tables are fairly close together. If you’ve never eaten at Salata, just know that their table placement does not take your personal space in to account.

A couple tables down from me, a couple girls sat down and began their dinner. One of the girls had her head buried in her phone for the first 5 minutes. She seemed distraught as she feverishly typed out messages in to her phone. Eventually, a couple seats down from me, she broke in to tears. Said to her friend, “he’s breaking up with me.” As more crocodile tears ran down her face. Now, I know what you’re thinking … “millennials breaking up via text message.” I know … let’s put that aside for a minute.

A couple minutes later, still sobbing, she walked out of the restaurant and took a phone call. Presumably talking to the Breaker of Hearts on the other end of the line. Three or four minutes later she came back in, even more disheveled, mascara running down her face, she sat down. Still fighting back tears, as her friend was trying to console her with a few words of encouragement …

Now, the point of this story, isn’t to tell you this girls sad story. As I sat there watching this unfold, my empathy began to kick in. I, and many of us, have been in this same situation. Maybe not in a Salata, but you know what I mean. It’s a part of life. Many would argue that it is life. However, as I sat there, I began to wonder if there was anything I could do? Anything I should do? Anything to help this young teary eyed girl in this gloom stricken hour.

On one shoulder sat the caricature of a decent human saying, “Give her a word of encouragement. Tell her it will be okay. Tell her you’ve been there. Tell her that it’s impossible for her to see it now, but years from now you will look back on this and it will remind you how much you’ve grown. She needs a hug.”

Obviously, this caricature had no concept of social niceties. I began an internal debate with this caricature, we’ll call him Dick. I told him, “Listen, Dick. You’re going to make me a creeper at the least. And probably put me on a list somewhere. You’re not allowed to do any of that. Let this girl suck it up on her own. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I did not like that answer. Dick did not like this answer. We did not like it one bit. It made us feel cold and disconnected. It did not sit well with us.

Look, it’s not every day we come in to contact with situations like this. I was torn between, what I felt was “being a good person” and “you’re not supposed to interact with people. Even if you’re trying to be good.”

To bring this, overly verbose, story to a conclusion … here’s how this played out, for better or for worse. I decided to do something. Something that would hopefully keep me off a list. And maybe give this girl a little bit of a smile.

For anyone who knows me well, I’m a creative at heart. I have a propensity for drawing. It’s one of my few gifts. So, I grabbed a napkin and a pen and doodled a little teddy bear holding a heart. With the text, “I noticed you were sad. I was hoping that this teddy bear might help cheer you up.”

The two girls stood up to leave, food uneaten. The heart-broken girl was still tearful, as she walked out of the restaurant. The second friend stayed behind to clean up the plates and the table. I hurriedly finished my doodle and handed the napkin to her friend and asked her if she would give it to her friend.

Ultimately, I still feel like this was socially unacceptable for me to do. A major part of me, actually regrets doing it.

However, another part of me hopes that when my two little girls go through this situation in 10-15 years. When my little girls turn in to teenagers. And future me may not be around. Or may not be someone they want to talk to about these things. I truly hope there is some kind soul out there who will draw a teddy bear on a napkin and hand it to them with some kind words. I hope they will do their best to help my girls through their tough situation.