Sometimes it takes a wistful story to remind us that other people have feelings. In a recent letter, Alice A. Leeds of Germantown told a story that was as wistful--and as eloquent--as could be. She wrote:
"In a recent column in The Post, you told about a waitress who was going to seat you at lunchtime and, seeing that you were alone, asked, 'Just one?'
"This brought back to mind a sad experience I had several years ago. My husband of 19 years had been killed in an automobile accident in May of that year. In spite of both of us being busy professionals, we had never spent a free day or a vacation without one another.
"A few times we had gone to a lovely lodge in a state park near Chicago to enjoy a weekend together. Thus, when the Labor Day weekend came around after this traumatic experience, I decided to go back there--for the first time all by myself--for a peaceful few days to overcome my sense of loss.
"After checking in at the lodge, I went to the dining room for supper. The hostess greeted me with 'Table for one--just one?' With emphasis on the 'just.'
"It hurt me deeply, because up to then I had never really admitted to myself that from now on it was 'just one.' My appetite was gone, but I sat down at the assigned table for one (very close to the swinging kitchen doors), ordered some small side dish, signed my bill and immediately went back up to my room for the night.
"The next morning when I entered the dining room for breakfast, the same hostess greeted me with 'just one?' again. Tears welled up in my eyes. I said that I changed my mind, turned around, went back to my room to pack, checked out and drove home.
"A weekend that was planned to restore me was indeed ruined by a surely unintended, but unnecessary, single word, 'just.' A little more thoughtfulness in what we say and how we say it is all that is needed."
How about it, hosts and hostesses? Isn't it clear to you that people eating by themselves might be embarrassed, or even heartbroken, about doing so? Won't you treat the "solos" a little more carefully?