When I got my first job out of college, General Motors sent me to a three-week training course in Austin. It sounded like fun at the time. However, by the end of week one, the fun had already faded. What I thought would be a fun three-week work-sponsored vacation turned into working my 9-5 only to return to an empty hotel room and eat some cheap take-out. The weekends were even worse. I didn’t have a car, so I just had to sit in my hotel room watching shark week. It was boring. It was lonely. And it was miserable.
Recently one of my coworkers was in a similar situation. He just started working for the company and lived out of a hotel room for a few weeks. His family was going to move with him, but that wouldn’t be for another few weeks.
Recalling that I knew what he was going through, I said, “Let my wife and I take you out to dinner this Saturday.” Now I can’t speak for him, but I had a great time. I’m assuming he had a great time too. The food was good, and I’m great company. It was an all-around nice evening. And when I got back home, I had felt like I had done the right thing.
I tell this story because I was surprised at how good I felt. All I did was go out to dinner with a coworker. It was borderline self-serving. But I was happy he didn’t have to spend another evening alone in his hotel room.
I often think of acts of charity and generosity as bigger, more formal acts. And as embarrassing as that is to admit, I think that’s a common trap to fall into. I always think of charity as donating clothing or spending a morning working at a habitat for humanity build. But the truth of it is it can be simple. For example, taking out and just making sure someone isn’t lonely is a worthy thing. Charity doesn’t have to be a big deal. Taking someone out to dinner is enough.
And it’s something I plan to do more of in the future.
We, as Americans, are getting lonelier and lonelier. Gen Z is the loneliest generation so far. It’s a growing problem, and it doesn’t have to be the case. Being social is fun. As Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal.” It’s in our nature to enjoy the company of others, but because of technology and modern society, we somehow struggle with this very basic aspect of our humanity.
I would encourage everyone to take someone out for dinner to hang out. If making people feel good isn’t enough motivation for you to take people out for dinner. Just remember, if you start doing it, you become the guy that takes people out for dinner. Everyone loves that guy. Become the guy everyone loves.
Take people out to dinner. For the record, lunch works too. It’s a nice thing to do, and everyone benefits.