So, as promised at the end of my last post, I'm trying to play catch-up with posting some of my experiences while visiting where I grew up long ago. I'm staying at a hotel in the downtown portion of the city (which, strangely enough, is an area that I never really frequented when I lived here.) Since breakfast is included in my room package, I come down to the hotel restaurant a lot, and many of the servers have gotten accustomed to seeing me here. I will admit that when I travel, I tend to be very proactive when it comes to achieving sensory comfort in a "strange" (different) environment, almost being hypervigilant to a fault.
The hotel went through some renovations since I last stayed here, the biggest of which was that they relocated the restaurant that was downstairs to a more condensed area on the second floor, so that it could be adjacent to the lobby area. (From what the servers told me, management felt they could make more money using the larger space downstairs for events.) Unfortunately, that also meant that the end of one leg of the restaurant's "J" shaped space is right next to the busy reception desks. about half of the wall of that leg also held the POS (Point-of-Service) station, where servers input their orders and other prep work. The other leg constists of about 75% bar and grand staircase to the downstairs area. The other 25% is next to the back-of-house area and buffet tables. Needless to say, not many quiet places in that restaurant to have a relaxing meal.
So, at my first breakfast here, I posed my usual request when approaching the hostess to be seated: I asked to be in as quiet a table as possible. She took me to a little two-top (table for two) between the POS station
This new location wasn't perfect, but it was somewhat better. There weren't any adjacent tabled directly within my view, but at one point, I saw a businessman on his cell phone not quite pacing short distances, but walking the entire length of the bar area. As I watched him walk towards me, I could feel myself tense up a bit and thought to myself, "Please don't come this way. Please don't walk over here. I don't want to have to hear your cellphone conversation. I just want to quietly enjoy my breakfast." I could feel myself glaring at him with daggers coming out of my eyes, hoping to keep him away... Wondering if he did walk near me, would I have the nerve to ask him to take is cellphone conversation elsewhere? Luckily, it never came to that. He and one other gentleman, who was sitting two tables away from me, eventually left.
This morning's breakfast wasn't much easier. Little did I realize that this hotel is hosting not one, not two, but FOUR weddings today, so when I came down for breakfast this morning, the restaurant was pretty full. Of course, all of the two-top tables were adjacent to larger parties of six or more, so I knew I was in trouble. I originally sat at a table that was on the other side of a column from a party of about eight or ten people. They seemed to be older adults, so I wasn't too concerned (since I saw a lot of squeeling kids run down the other leg of the restaurant.) Unfortunately, I must have been next to the wedding party's table because after about fifteen or so minutes, a group of people, with their excited kids, approached their table. The hostess and servers were already aware of my sensitivities to sound after having eaten here over the past couple of days, so they weren't surprised when I asked to move to the bar area. (It was closed and there was no one sitting there at all so I felt it was going to be the calmest place in the restaurant.) As soon as I sat down though, a priest and a couple of other men sat down at the lounge table behind me. I couldn't believe it. It's like a cat flocking to someone allergic to cats (which I am)... I couldn't understand why they'd sit directly behind me because the bar lounge tall chairs didn't have backs and there were many regular dining tables that were open. I turned back to my breakfast, figuring as long as I couldn't see them and my earplugs were in, I should still be okay, and then it hit me... The overpowering (and I do mean OVERPOWERING) whiff of a heavy man's cologne. Argh! I'll give you one guess as to the direction where it was coming from...
So, once again... I apologetically asked my server if she'd mind if I were to move again. She was extremely nice about it, and even the hostess offered a table that might be out of the way, but she needed to clean it off first. I said I have no problem waiting, and once it was clean, she took me to a little two-top that was at the end of the restaurant behind a column. She pointed out that it was right next to the lobby area, but I said it's better than the other two locations.
So here I am. sitting at the little two-top, blasting music through my favorite noise isolating earbuds, oblivious to the increasing number of people gathering at the reception desk behind me, probably checking in for one of the many weddings tonight, thinking to myself... "I hate this condition! I hate feeling like I constantly have to relocate to be comfortable, and that people must think I'm so bizarre every time I do that. I hate that my body is so bothered by the simplest of senstations, that I have to isolate myself so much for my senses to be at ease. I love to travel, but I wind up having to go through a constant rigmarole every time I go someplace..."
All I can say is that I look forward to the day when I won't be affected by misophonia triggers anymore!