WESTWOOD, CA – Customers of Napa Valley Grille in Westwood, CA were taken aback yesterday as they witnessed Tracy Murphy, 33, sit alone at a table and order her meal, presumably waiting for a guest to join her. But there would be no guest, besides the John Grisham novel clutched tight between her fingers, her eyes unmoving and glaring steadfast at its heavy pages.
“I don’t understand, did someone cancel on her?” questioned patron Bridget Rodgers, 44, who was dining with her husband at the time. “Should I approach her and ask if she’s ok? Maybe she’s in shock and that’s why she’s so fixated on that book.” The couple comes to the restaurant frequently for lunch, but say they’ve never witnessed anything like this in their time as patrons of the Grille. Bob Rodgers, husband of Bridget, expressed his concern, “It is beyond me why any person would dare go out and eat alone. I know my wife would never ever want to go anywhere or do anything without me right there by her side one-hundred-percent of the time.” Bridget nodded in agreeance as her arm began to noticeably turn blue from Bob’s loving grip.
The on-duty General Manager, Chris Morton, told Satyr that while this happening was a rare occurrence, this was not the first time he had seen something like this. “I’ve seen this kind of thing a handful of times in my time as a manager, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. I mean just look at her. Sitting there…by herself.” And it appears that this anomaly is not one exclusive to Napa Valley Grille. A server, who has asked to remain nameless, gave Satyr her insight on the matter. “I’ve worked at a ton of places, this happens more than you think. All kinds of people too, men, women, fat, bald. One time I even saw a kid eating alone, fucking makes you think. I mean what kind of neglect does a kid face where they end up eating a meal alone at a place that sells meals?” Her quote was then cut short as an unattended toddler ran by while brandishing a steak knife and screaming. Make no mistake, we at Satyr can be sure that Ms. Murphy must have envied whoever the child belonged to, because at least they had someone with them at this nice restaurant.
As Ms. Murphy left the restaurant, she provided Satyr with a first-hand account of the event. “I have an hour for lunch and was looking to try a new place away from my annoying co-workers. Plus I never get time to read so this was honestly a blessing. So is this a survey or something? How did you guys know that I was here by myself-” We thought it best to quickly end the questions and run away, so that Ms. Murphy could seek help and recovery. We wish her the best, and regretfully cannot provide an update on her status, as she probably doesn’t have a phone number or an email or any friends, because she was eating at a restaurant alone and reading a book.
“It comes with the territory of the foodservice industry,” elaborated Manager Morton,
“Sometimes you see some shit, and you have to soldier on and keep up appearances. A customer is a customer, even if they are some sort of freak who eats out by themselves with a book. And is probably lonely. And, um…gay!” Mr. Morton then apologized before leaving to take a call from his divorce lawyer and crying into Ms. Murphy’s unattended, uneaten side of fries.
Illustration by Jakob Kiebach