This is Ryan. I need some honest answers to these thought provoking questions I'm about to share--please impart your knowledge for me and all those who have similar experiences.
I'm big on social norms and get extremely uncomfortable in socially awkward situations. I can't watch a lot of the tryouts for American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance (or testimony meetings for those readers who know what I'm talking about) because people make me extremely nervous and I hate when the judges are rude to them.
Now that the stage is set here is my story. I was having lunch at In and Out (be jealous); this particular In and Out is one of the drive-up only ones, but they have a little seating area outside. It's kind of like a parking lot, there are always a lot of people, but they are coming and going and you can usually get a table, it just takes awhile. While I was waiting for a table I thought to myself (I really did), "I wonder if anyone ever asks to share a table? That would be uncomfortable, what would I say if someone asked me?" As I was contemplating that thought and checking my e-mail every 14 seconds (I can't help it), a table opened up. I sat down, waited for my number and started eating. As I was eating some middle-aged guy came up and said, "Hey wanna share a table?" Really? Do I want to share a small table with a complete stranger where the conversation will be awkward or it will be even more uncomfortable if we don't talk? The answer is NO, no I don't want to have lunch with you. What was my answer? I said, "Sure". So this guy ruined my lunch because I sat there in silence constantly wondering if I should talk and praying he wouldn't--I kept taking quick bites of delicious food I couldn't enjoy just to escape the situation. I can't say no to people--ask Erica, I get caught at the door with sales people ALL the time. I almost bought a bottle of cleaner from two people from Alabama here to earn money for Disneyland or some lie. She drew some black marker on a dish cloth and asked how I would get the stain out--she went into an uncomfortable joke about "shouting it out" where she yelled at the rag, "Get out you stain!" I thought I was going to throw-up from the discomfort and colossal awkwardness of it all. They then started cleaning a window and asked if they could come inside and clean some hard water stains. Erica had to come to my rescue before I bought a $40 bottle of colored water.
I have two questions really. One is, would you ever ask a stranger to share a table and under which circumstances? Two, what is it about me that makes people feel comfortable enough to ask? You can ask my wife--if we are ever in a crowd and someone needs the time or their picture taken or a favor I am ALWAYS approached. I don't know what to think about this. I wish I looked more intimidating--would people approach me if I was taller, stronger, maybe had some tatoos or a piercing? Why don't they ask my wife or my friends if I'm around them.
I am a social guy and even an extravert, but I am not super comfortable around people I don't know unless the situation calls for it. In fact I loathe new social situations in the beginning and can't stop thinking about what other people are thinking and what I should do to make the situation comfortable. It's a constand battle and I could use some advice. Thank you.