Things Overhead in a Restaurant: Mosques, Loud Neighbors & Bigotry

The saint* and I have a true penchant for being seated next to loud people in restaurants. It reminds me of being assigned the seat next to the noisy kid in grade school. The logic of the teachers, and perhaps the hostess, must be the sound/lack of sound will balance out. But it never works. All it does is annoy us quiet, reflective people and grates on our patience. And if we’re polite, we think we need to make conversation back to the class clown. (I have.) Come, now. Let’s rethink this maneuver.

Today was such an occasion. The two dudes (and dudes is a fitting term) appeared to be employed by some sort of military contract and were talking shop. Loudly. Dude One asked lots of questions, talked most of the time and appeared to encourage Dude Two in his career aspirations. Dude Two appeared to want to move someday and continue his military career elsewhere. Dude One began describing a potential place to Dude Two in punctuated interest:

“…They’ve got everything there, it’s a nice area. They even have a mosque so it’s good for finding terrorists.”

I looked up, startled. The man was in his 30’s or less, possibly Hispanic, but spoke with a jock/valley boy like accent. When he ordered from the South American menu, he had a refined Spanish accent.

I poured my Coca Cola over his $40 polo shirt and left.

I’m paraphrasing what Dude One said, but it was short and quick and he moved on easily. And no, I didn’t pour Coke on him. But if ESP waves could maim, I would have at least knocked him off his polished chair.

I sat there, bouncing between blocking out the Dudes’ conversation and eating my meal. I wondered if I were Muslim and wearing a hijab, if Dude One would have spoken so. Or exactly what he meant by describing mosques in the same tone used to describe good fishing grounds for catching Bass and Rainbow Trout.

This is a sullen entry. I continue to chew on phrases I hear people say to one another; I struggle to remember the positive ones. These are, however, the sound bytes of America, 2018. More will follow.

How do you respond to such bigoted speech, including when you overhear it in public spaces? How do you react? Would be interested in your thoughts and experiences below.

*The saint, aka my spouse.

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