Every Sunday I gather a line from each of the previous week’s poems. I call it a ReVerse. I like to read the finished word collage a few times and then write what I’m thinking about it in this space.
But…I was detoured today, and so, there is this…
I don’t normally notice them. The judgmental, self-righteous trolls that stare daggers through us as we go about doing the things people do, like living and breathing. Maybe it’s the swelling tide of intolerance, where it’s become the acceptable norm to shun, to hate, to refuse to serve people like us. No cake for you…we don’t do gay.
We have a Sunday morning routine. After we drop our pups at the groomers, we head to our favorite breakfast spot for coffee, omelets and pancakes. It’s a comforting way to pass the time. At least it had been, until today.
Today, after being settled into our booth, we waited…and we waited…and we waited. After 10 minutes it was hard not to suspect that we were being snubbed, especially when our server glanced our way several times, obviously, before turning away to tap into a computer screen, or to fold napkins. Was she hoping we would just leave…no hot cakes for you? It was hard not to take it personally. She got her wish. After 20 minutes we left our booth. Her back was still turned. She hardly noticed.
But we didn’t leave the building of our favorite breakfast spot. It is our lovely, weekly routine after all. We asked to speak to the manager and while we waited I watched our server as she glanced over her shoulder, peered over the rims of her glasses, and raised her eyebrows when she discovered she had won the battle. Her battle. I can only imagine her silent, “hallelujah, thank you lord!”…the victory cry of this “good and faithful servant” having received her reward for standing her hallowed ground against the likes of sinners like us. I can only imagine.
Sadly, I believe I’m not far off the mark. I have been schooled by many of these saints, that I’m headed for eternal damnation, hell, if you will, and that their great and powerful god considers me an abomination. Or at least they do, and they should know because god, their god, speaks to them. Not only that. There are verses in his book; this one and this one and that, proof that their god hates me and so, they should too.
After apologizing, the hostess offered to reseat us; to bring us coffee, to take our breakfast order herself.
I smiled, “Thank you, but not that server’s section please, any section but hers.”
We were escorted to a sunny window booth. The hostess made good on her promise, bringing us coffee and creamer, and one cup, not two. She was most apologetic, serving was definitely not her forté, and of course it was easy to overlook, because she was being so kind. She was so very kind.
The manager stopped by, as I had requested, ready to listen, I could tell.
“We come here every week,” I said. “We love this place. It’s our routine. But today we were blatantly, obviously, ignored by the server of our section; not a word of acknowledgment that we were there. For twenty minutes…”
And then I did something that I hate myself for. I started to cry. It was not a loud, attention-grabbing spectacle of a cry. My face simply flushed and my eyes welled up; a few salty droplets burned my cheeks on the way down.
I apologized of course. I don’t normally let these sorts of things get to me you know. I just wanted breakfast at my favorite spot with my partner of 18 years, coffee with two sugars and cream, a glass of cool water, and pancakes…and to chill, read the news on my phone, and wait for the groomer to call. I just wanted to breathe. But I cried, damn it! Living should not be this hard.
It would be easy to tell you the franchise name. To call for a boycott, for justice; to invite others to rise up against a business who would employ such a sad, hateful zealot. But it’s not about the place or the business. It’s not about shutting everything down that doesn’t value me or my right to be.
It’s about kindness, and the lack of it. It’s about what we are becoming. It’s about the whittling away of civility and the rise of hate, emboldened by our leaders. It’s about the pervasive lie, the worst lie of all…that there is an “us” and a “them”, that others are not to be trusted, that only some people matter.
Yes, it would be easy to lump the whole franchise, or people, into my own personal boycott crusade, but I’d be forgetting the kindness of that hostess, and the manager, and the other servers who have been lovely to us on previous visits, and the one who finally served us today. That would not be very kind of me.
You might be surprised to hear that I pray every day. It’s true. What do I pray for? That might surprise you too. I pray, not for comfort, or heaven on earth; not for prosperity, or to pass an exam, to live forever, or to land the perfect job. I don’t pray to be protected from others who are not like me. I pray simply that the hardness of life not harden my heart. I ask the universe to remind me, most of all, to be kind.
It’s the hardest thing to do and be, and sometimes I fail miserably. I get angry, and defensive. But mornings like this remind me why kindness matters. It’s a very big, small thing to ask, not only of others, but of myself…please be kind. Please. Be. Kind.
There is still a ReVerse in the wings. I will let it speak for itself this week.
Sunday’s Week in ReVerse – 15 April 2018
spring is in flux, bitter
on moonless nights, the veil
the flicker of a new thought
of a single wick consumed
breathing is overrated
a few lone travelers that no one would miss, to save civilization
this very moment I’ll take a stand
one last hurrah, dark night at the gate
much too busy surviving
‘cause all work and no play is a chore
let’s rollick instead, for spite
prickly, pale petal pins
then suspended, in fact,
pause with me a spell
shy and sweet
there’s a lovely stillness
count my blessings, count sheep, pray my soul to keep
the end never comes
might linger til mid-day, it’s my bliss
rarely do I remember my dreams
it’s true…every one sweet