31 January 2007

Just Leave Me Alone

On a lark, Eric and I went to IHOP for lunch today. As we got out of the car I think I told him, "this is going to take forever."

What fun times we had.

Walking to the hostess stand, I noticed an older couple gawking at us as soon as we walked in the door. They could've been doing so because we were all bundled up like nanook. The high here today is 28° and we're expecting snow/sleet/ice for the next day or so and reports are coming in from Mountain Home, Arkansas of school buses in ditches. I don't know why they were staring. There wasn't anything really remarkable about the way we looked. I was wearing my black cashmere overcoat and scarf, black wool Kangol driving cap and cashmere lined kidskin gloves, black boots and jeans. Eric was similarly dressed in a shorter coat, plaid cashmere scarf, sunglasses. I didn't appreciate the stares. And since they were seated in the least crowded section of nonsmoking I figured we'd be sitting in their vicinity, subject to further scrutiny. Maybe they thought we were celebrities or the latest of the city council members to be indicted for bribery or money laundering. Who knows? I just wanted to be left alone eat to my lunch and enjoy some casual converastion with my friend. So I suggested smoking. I can hang.

We sat in a booth by a window. Service was erratic but I don't think it was completely, Bruce, our server's, fault. Even though he appeared to be the only person actually working the floor at first, he wasn't. He came to the table and took our drink order and was quick to return with the Diet Cokes. Eric pointed out that he would be "potatoey" (hot) if he were a bit more bulked-up. Buzzed head, big moustache. I'll guess early-fifties. Nice enough, but seemed out-of-place.

Because I took forever to make up my mind it seemed as if it took twice as long for Bruce to return to our table. He apologized for taking so long and took our food orders. I was beginning to regret the impulse we indulged in stopping there.

Our food came to the table. It looked great. Eric was missing crepes and toast, I was missing ketchup. We had waited so long that I didn't care. The fries were "seasoned" with some odd, goldenrod-colored, most likely MSG laden, seasoned salt dust. They were OK without ketchup. Who needs the high-fructose corn syrup anyway?

The restaurant began clearing out because the day was drawing closer and closer to late afternoon. Adjacent to our booth was a table seated with two women where a very large egg and corned-beef hash something or another, that covered the entire platter and apparently wasn't on the menu, was delivered. Based upon the entree, we could only surmise that the girls were either employees (unlikely) or friends of employees. This was further evidenced by the fact that there was a very loud-mouthed, barely discernible English-speaking, orange-haired, grey sweatsuit clad, elephant-sized, trash-talking bitch talking simultaneously to the chicks at the table and the person on her cell phone, snapping photos on her phone, doing laps around their table, walking out of the dining room then back in, and starting the whole routine again. Several times.

When I had endured her rudeness for quite long enough, I braced myself to stand up and tell her that the rest of the patrons in the restaurant didn't care to hear about how she was going to verbally "bitch-slap" Sherita or expose somebody else's cheating man-friend and that we'd like to quietly enjoy our lunch, our eyes locked onto one others. Apparently my expression took care of things. I had to say nothing. She half-heartedly said "oops" in whatever language she was speaking and left the restaurant with some other employees.

Eric and I were able to finish lunch in peace. Quite frankly, the two seated women appeared to know the obnoxious elephant, but appeared to be glad that she was gone. Bruce brought us the check, Eric had a cigarette and we got bundled up to leave. He had to go to the restroom, so I went to the counter to pay. There, the manager of the restaurant and another employee were confronting a belligerent drunk vagrant that had wondered in with an equally inebriated friend carrying a pink carnation who was also trying to get Drunk Bum to leave. He was combative and wouldn't leave. Employee #2 had a broom in her hand in preparation for the worst, I suppose. The two employees were telling the bum to leave. His drunken friend was saying, "c'mon, man." He pointed at the broom and said something I just don't comprehend: "that won't get my leg hard". Beg pardon? What the hell, exactly, does that mean?

She grabbed him at the shoulder of his jacket and shoved him through both sets of double-doors out of the restaurant. I asked the manager, who had by then taken her place at the cash register, "are you OK?" Apparently this wasn't the first time that she'd had to deal with this guy. As we completed our transaction I signed my debit slip and wished her a great afternoon. All the while, I was looking out of the corner of my eye at Eric, who had now returned from the restroom, watching Drunk Bum and his friend pacing back and forth on the street near my car. While I had hoped that they would have stumbled away, they were waiting for us. As soon as we opened the restaurant door to leave, Drunk Bum started yelling. I couldn't understand most of what he was saying. By the time I got to the front of my car the two of them had walked from the driver's side of the car toward the front, attempting to block my way so as to have my undevided attention. When I said, "no, go away," drunk bum said "fuck you."

So, forgetting to be the forgiving person I should be, I said "fuck you, you're invading my space. Leave me alone." Drunk bum not only didn't stop invading my space, he became more verbally violent and physically aggressive. As he began to charge me I put my hand on his chest and pushed him fifteen or twenty feet away from the car. I just wanted to get in and leave. But he came back. This time, I grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and forcefully shoved him away from me, hoping that I'd have provided myself enough time to get in the car and speed away. I looked into his black, soulless eyes as he fell into the crepe myrtle behind him and felt a pang of guilt. How on Earth could I be here? What am I supposed to learn by this?

Getting into the car, I realized that the earlier second-click of the remote hadn't opened the door for Eric. He was still standing outside the passenger side of the car watching me retaliate in a fit of adrenaline-induced, psychotic rage. I pressed the door lock button so he could get in. As he sat down in the seat the bum rushed his door and attempted to come into the car on Eric's side.

As Eric said, "Get Away," and tried closing the door. By now, I can taste the adrenaline. I rushed out of my seat and around the front of the car and pulled the man away from Eric's door. Meanwhile Drunk Bum's companion tried to get him to stop attacking us. I looked into the window of the restaurant and gestured to the women (with the common "call me" phone gesture) screaming "call the police." They simply stared back at me, blankly, and watched the ugly situation unfold -- no acknowledgement whatsoever of what was happening or what to do next.

At last, Drunk Bum's companion managed to pull him away from the car so we could leave. They made their way back into the restaurant. God only knows what happened from there. Perhaps Employee #2 grabbed the broom again. Drunk Bum's companion just wanted us to all get along the whole time. Throughout the whole ordeal he managed to hang onto the single pink carnation he was clutching.

I surely didn't expect what happened. And, I am beginning to realize just exactly how naive I am, and how much I still have to learn about life. Typically, I don't necessarily believe that my thought processes or beliefs are the correct ones. I'm open to new ideas. Others, not so much. But it's life's lessons, not another's perception, that should cause spiritual growth. Right?

I don't have a problem questioning anything that seems illogical or ridiculous. Religious zealot? Fine. Just don't try to make me live like you. Republican? George W. Bush? Go ahead on. Don't expect my support. (In fact expect me to work against you.) But, I felt like engaging Drunk Bum was wrong after the fact. Except that I didn't engage him. He attacked me. Right? Regardless, my reaction to him could have put Eric and myself into an more undesirable and potentially dangerous situation than it actually ended up being.

While I know it would be utopia for us all to appreciate our differences, God knows, it's nearly impossible for me to want the best for people that I think are evil. It's hard for me to pray for blessings upon the likes of Hitler or "W." Evil walks among us regardless of whether God, Jesus, Heaven or Hell exist. I was reared as a Southern Baptist by a Pennsylvania Dutch Quaker and a heathen who I'm not sure had any spiritual upbringing at all. I believe that there is a higher power. I believe that we, as humans, have no logical perception as to the power of that being. I believe that the world's churches are crap and are based upon two-thousand year's of man's "tinkering" with what Christians are supposed to believe/know/trust. Why the hell else would there be a Pope? Why do we need preachers in the pulpit or a "King James Version" of the bible? Spiritual living isn't a bunch of "me-toos" following a single interpretation. Spiritual living is a personal relationship with whomever you choose to call God. Period.

I don't particularly think Drunk Bum is evil, but I think his life has been decimated by evil. I suppose I could have tried to handle the situation in a more loving manner. But I I became scared and annoyed. I can't help but think I was supposed to learn something from the situation.

I am beginning to drift away from my original reason to post. I'm tired. I'm not happy about today. I have long-overdue complete physical at 8:15 A.M. I need to go to bed. Bless you.

1 comment:

Gina Bruce said...

well Cheese & Rice, sister.

I'm glad you're ok. Don't beat yourself up too much. The "fight-or-flight" impulse is coded within us as in all animals. Nature took over.

Have a warm and safe weekend, for pete's sake. And stay away from IHOP. Near my mamma's down Alabammy, there's a Waffle House with a great big old tall sign. But for the longest time that sign was busted. At night, in 4-foot tall letters, beaconing out across the bay, welcoming weary traveler from both western coastal Alabama and even the panhandle of Florida....