The Sit With Us app was announced yesterday, creating a subtle but ground-breaking way for lonely teens to connect in lunch rooms without calling attention to themselves.
If you’ve ever experienced lunch room loneliness, the news of the app may have hit you right in the middle of your aching stomach. The same stomach that felt really sick every single day as you slid your cafeteria tray down the stainless steel counter, dreading the end of the line, knowing that after you gave your fifty cents or dollar to the lunch lady, you’d have to pick up that tray and join the crowd whose roaring voices were filling your head with fear.
I was one of those kids.
I attended a parochial school in a neighboring town for grades K-8, and then, because my own town had a public junior high that went up to grade 9, I was forced to make my transition to public school there. After that, I transferred to a public high school back in the neighboring town again for grade 10-12.
I ate lunch alone every single day for those three years.
I can tell you the colors of the matching Bobbie Brooks sweater and skirt sets that the girls at the popular tables wore as I inched my way to a place by the window. I remember their hair styles, their loud laughter, their Weejuns, their monogrammed sterling silver necklaces, their purses that held their rat-tailed teasing combs and packs of cigarettes. I can even tell you the conversations I overheard.
I did actually have a handful of friends—not at the same time, of course. But those friends had boyfriends or a lunch schedule that wasn’t the same as mine.
Every day my schedule placed me in the cafeteria at its busiest. By the time I lifted my tray from the counter and turned to face my fate, there were just a few single seats here and there.
The oak tables and chairs were lined up so close together that I had to lift my tray to shoulder height as I squeezed through the tight aisles. The sturdy old chairs had fifty years worth of bruises on their legs with lots of rough spots. They had seen a lot of abuse.
My goal each day was to carefully pick my way through the crowd to an empty space without getting a run in my nylons. About once a week, I failed. My stocking snagged on a splintered chair leg and I felt the hole in my stocking grow as its climbed up my leg leaving an ugly track of broken nylon and pale skin.
If I was lucky, my mother might have a spare pair of nylons at home but usually I had to wear the same stockings with the runs in them until she remembered to pick up a replacement.
We lived in a rural area of farms—no stores. I rode the school bus home and depended on my mother for the sundries of high school life. Nylons, binder paper and ball point pens.
It wasn’t so bad. I survived.
But the Sit With Us app would have helped.
Maybe you know someone who could use the Sit With Us app. It’s available as a download in App stores.