Friday, October 16, 2015

Don't Fence Me In...

While standing third in line at a “restaurant” that induces as much shame as it does phantom labor pains, I was blessed with a second row seat as an older couple placed their order.

“I want a number three with a diet, and a number 4 with a black coffee. Both small, to stay.” The man spoke the order to the young Asian woman behind the counter in a voice louder than necessary, pronouncing each syllable as if it were its own word, and adding a patronizing emphasis to boot.

Coffee with that meal? Somebody’s constipated!

The young lady punched in the man’s order with competence, and without the need for it to be repeated.

He repeated the order anyway, again employing loud, distinct, and condescending pronunciation.

“That’s a number three with diet, and a number 4 with black coffee, both small, to stay.”

After an exchange of currency, the couple stood to one side and began waiting for their food to arrive, giving me a chance to get a better look at them.

The man was dressed in pressed denim shorts that hung below the knee. The waist of those shorts (and perhaps a belt?) remained forever hidden beneath an apron of belly fat that pressed and stretched against the fibers of his American flag tee shirt like the desperate, regretful face of a how-many-people-can-fit-inside-a-phone-booth prank participant stuck against the glass, no relief in his future and regret on his mind.

That fat wanted out, real bad.

Adorning the man’s feet were brand new, super white, brand-less tennis shoes, accompanied by tan socks that he had pulled up to cover his calves. A camera with a lens that had to have been developed for a Cold War spy satellite hung from a strap around his neck. I say hung, but in reality the camera wasn’t hanging; it rested comfortably on his belly. The strap was in fact, superfluous.

This guy is living the ‘MURICAN dream…

I placed my order without issue, repetition, or volume, then took my receipt, joined the waiting and continued my observations.

The man’s wife stood beside him in a state of permanent befuddlement, as if wondering in each new moment who she was, as well as how, when, and why she had come to be where she was.

“I wonder what all the Mexicans think about these Orientals coming over on slow boats and taking over their low paying jobs that no one else wants except for hard-working Americans that were born here?” The man said aloud.

Is my mouth hanging open right now? Did he just say that out loud?

“They could at least learn to speak Engrish when they come here, am I right?” The man looked around, presumably hoping for a couple of good ‘ole boy nods in agreement.

From what I could see, he didn’t get any.

“Number 73!” the Asian girl said in a loud, clear, happy and accent-free voice, while holding aloft a tray of food.

“I tell you, this country needs more than a fence; we need enforcement.”

Okay, so I want to punch a geriatric, ignorant, loud-mouthed bigot with bad dress sense and a camera for a penis; does that make me a bigger dick than he is a racist?

“Number 73!” The girl repeated. She looked around the growing group of patrons awaiting food. No one stepped forward, so after a moment she set the tray down on the counter before turning to retrieve another.

“Number 74!”

The man that had ordered directly before me (and after Mr. ‘Murica) stepped forward and took his tray with a polite, even sheepish and apologetic thanks. I looked down at my receipt; my number was 75.

Wait; she’s been calling their number, but he’s been too busy ranting about the sad state of border security to hear her loud, clear, American voice.

I looked over at the angry man and his permanently mystified wife.

Well, that’s just precious.

“My goodness, I wonder if she even got our order right; didn’t that young man order after we did?” The man asked his wife.

“I don’t know,” she replied in the practiced, muted voice of a woman who knew her place.

Bet she’s lived a full life…

“Number 73?” The young woman repeated. “Black coffee?” She added.

“This is ridiculous,” The man huffed, heading for the counter.

“Number 73, black coffee?” She asked as his belly hit the counter.

I watched as the old man fumbled to read the receipt he had been given. He stuffed it into his pocket with a huff and a disgusted shake of his head.

“That took long enough,” he barked, taking the tray from her hands without so much as a hint of gratitude, as if he had earned it just for being born.

You know, maybe he’s right; maybe we do need a fence…

I watched the woman follow her husband into the dining area. She sat across from him and watched as he took a sip of his black coffee. She made no attempt to eat, but rather waited for him to dole out her food.

I just don’t think he’d agree with my thoughts on where we should build it…

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